The most common languages in India are the Indo-European group descended from Sanskrit - Hindi, Gujerati, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi - which are spoken by about 70% of the population (circa 500 million) in Northern and Central parts of the country. Sinhalese, spoken in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), is also from this group. Sanskrit names tend to be compounds due to the popularity of the names of gods or their titles but are often written as separate words (Ram Gopal not Ramgopal). In the South, the Dravidian languages - Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam - are spoken by between 20 - 25% (about 100 million) but many names are of Sanskrit origin due to Hindu influence. Very few Dravidian names are widely used.
Urdu, the main language of Pakistan, is also spoken in North-West India, especially by Muslims. It is very similar to Hindi but contains many words borrowed from Arabic and Persian (Indo-Iranian) and is written in Arabic script. Until Pakistan was created by Partition in the 1950s, there was an even greater mix of cultures and religions within India. To some extent, they had been kept artificially peaceful by the rule of the British Empire. This also created conflicts however, and produced the separate class of Anglo-Indians (those with any quantity of European blood, no matter how small) with their own traditions and prejudices.
North : final '-a' usually left out (Raja becomes Raj)
South : '-a' retained, often with '-n' or '-m' added (Raja becomes Rajan or Rajam)
East (esp. Bengal) : Sanskrit 'a' often becomes 'o', v' becomes 'b', 's' becomes 'sh', 'j' becomes 'y' and 'ks' becomes 'x'.
The Sanskrit ending '-ra' becomes '-er' in many parts of the country (Chandra - Chander)
|abha light/splendour||abhi fearless||aja/i protector||aka/ana without||amala pure||amara deathless|
|amba mother||ambara sky||amit infinite||amrita immortal||ananda joy||ananta endless|
|anasa indestructible||anda||anga limb||anil fair||anna food||ansa share|
|ansu rays||anta||anti||anu follower||apa water||apara measureless|
|apu flawless||arcis illuminating||ardha half||arha deserving||aru tawny/red||asa space|
|astaka eight parts||asva horse||ati excess||atma soul||atman||ayah iron|
|babhru fire||bahu many/much||bala power||bhadra blessed/good||bhaga bestower||bhaktra|
|bhanu light/glory||bhava existence||bhima terrible||bhoja generous||bhuj||bhuvana earth|
|brhad possesses||caka||cakra disc||caksu eye||canda fierce||candra shining|
|carana devotee||caru beautiful||cinta thought||citra distinguished||citta mind||dama restrained|
|danda staff/club||datta given||daya compassion||deva god||dhara||dhrsta brave|
|dhrta constant||dipa light||dita||ditya||dridha firm||dy(a)u heaven|
|eka unique||endra||gaja elephant||gandha fragrant||garbha||gatra body|
|gopa cowherd||guna virtue||guru teacher/master||hansa swan||hara destroyer||harsa delight|
|havana sacrifice||hema gold||hima snow||hiranya gold||ibha elephant||idhma sacrificial fuel|
|inda||ini||irá primal water||ira wind||jai victor||jala water|
|jana people||jara old age||jasa fame||jata matted hair||jaya victory||jina victory|
|jita conquered||jiva life||jvala light||jyoti brilliant||ketu||lika|
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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