Singh


Singh

Also see Sinha

Singh (Hindi: सिंह singh, Punjabi: ਸਿੰਘ, Gujarati: સિંહ sinh) is a common title, middle name, or surname in Northern India and South India used by Hindu Kshatriya warriors and kings.[1] eg. Man Singh I, Maharana Pratap Singh. It is derived from the Sanskrit word Siṃha meaning "lion and used by Ahir kings of Nepal".[2] It is also used in Sri Lanka by Sinhalese people and in Nepal by Newa people. Narsingh is an avatara of Vishnu described in the Puranas, Upanishads and other ancient religious texts of Hinduism, and one of Hinduism's most popular deities, as evidenced in early epics, iconography, and temple and festival worship for centuries.

It was later adopted into Sikhism in 1699 as per the instructions of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the use of Singh as a last name is mandatory for all baptized male Sikhs since 1699, regardless of their geographical or cultural binding. The surname has also been widely adopted by other groups of India like Yadavs and Jats. Some Brahmins like Bhumihar Brahmins (see Kingdom of Kashi and Royal House of Benares) and Maithil Brahmins (see History of Mithila) also use this name. "Singh" has gradually emerged as a hereditary title[3] to be used as a middle name, highlighting connections to a warrior status or occupation. However, this is not an exclusive usage, and many Hindu groups including Scheduled Castes and Vaishya have adopted this title without any significant warrior status or ties.

Contents

Etymology

The word "Singh" is derived from the Sanskrit Siṃha meaning lion. Several variants of the word are found in other languages:

  • In Hindi Devanagari script, the name is written सिंह ("siṅh", IPA: [sɪŋɦə]) always pronounced सिंघ ("singh", IPA: [sɪŋɡʱə]). Other variants include Simha, Sinha, and Singhal[4][5]
  • In Punjabi (Gurmukhi script), the name is written as ਸਿੰਘ (Singh) and pronounced as Singh , In malayalam simham means lion.
  • In Malayalam, the word for simham (സിംഹം) means lion in english
  • In Tamil, the word for lion is Singham or Singhe written as சிங்க, also derived from Sanskrit (see Singapore)
  • In Gujarati, it is spelled as સિંહ (Sinh). Another variant is Sinhji, the form of Singh used in Gujarat, where the 'g' is dropped and the suffix of respect, 'ji' is added
  • In Burmese, it is spelled သီဟ (thiha), derived from the Pali variant siha.
  • Chinese is said to have also derived the word for lion from Buddhist missionaries from India: the word Shizi 獅子.[6] However, other sources state this was borrowed from Elamite[7]
  • In Thailand, Singha, written as Thai: สิงห์ with final syllable marked as silent, refers to a mythical lion; the zodiac sign of Leo; a popular brand of beer, Singha; and is frequently used as a place name (for instance, Ban Singh Tha). Singhakhom Thai: สิงหาคม, in which the /ha/ is pronounced, is the Thai solar calendar month of August. Sing Toe Thai: สิงโต, which omits /ha/ entirely and adds Thai for big or grown up, refers to the lion. All except Toe are of Sanskrit origin
  • A common surname of Bihar, "Sinha" also may have had origins in the word "Singh"
  • Simba means "lion" in the Swahili language (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/simba)
  • The term Sinhalese referring to settled peoples of Sri Lanka, meaning "lion blood" (Sinha = lion, le = blood) may also be construed as having origin in the word 'Singh'. The Sinhalese people are said to be descended from Prince Vijaya (a king who is fabled to have descended from a lion)

History

According to the numismatic evidence, the earliest examples of names ending with "Simha" are to be found with the names of the two sons of the great Satrapa rurler Rudraraman in the second century CE.[8] The same dynasty also featured a ruler called Rudrasena, whose eldest son was named Vishwasimha.

The first ruler of the Solanki/Chalukya clan who bore the title Simha ruled around 500 CE. The Vengi branch of the Chalukyas continued using Simha as a last name till the eleventh century.[8] The Rajputs started using Singh in preference to the classical epithet of "Varman". Among the Rajputs, the use of the word Simha came into vogue among the Paramaras of Malwa in 10th century CE, among the Guhilots and the Guhilot of Narwar in the 12th century CE, and the Rathores of Marwar after the 17th century.[8]

In the 18th century, the non-Rajput martial tribes, including the Brahmins, the Kayasthas and the Baniyas of what are now Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, also started using the title Singh in imitation of the Rajputs.[8] In the 19th century, even the Bengal court peons of the lower castes also adopted the title Singh.[8]

The adherents of Sikh faith adopted Singh as a surname in 1699, as per the wish of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru.[9] In the Spring of 1699, on the day of Baisakhi, Guru Gobind Singh Ji (originally named Guru Gobind Rai Ji), made it mandatory for all Sikh males to append the name suffix Singh after their name and "Kaur" for Women.

Singh is used by Sikhs, Bhumihar Brahmins and Kshatriya communities such as Yadavs, Kurmis, Gurjars,[10] Jats,[11] Rajputs, etc. as either a middle name or a surname. e.g. Ajay Singh Yadav, Kotwal Dhan Singh Gurjar, Chaudhary Charan Singh, Maharaja Bhim Singh Rana, Mulayam Singh Yadav etc.

The last name "Singh" is in fact used by a wider population from Punjab to Uttar Pradesh and from Kashmir down into Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharastra to Uttarakhand as well as the far eastern states of Manipur, Assam, Tripura, Sikkim, and even Bhutan, spanning the entire subcontinent and even reaching Southeast Asia. It is also found in use among West Indians of Indian origin namely in places of Guyana, Trinidad, and Surinam, as well as people of Indian origin found in Mauritius and Fiji Island.

Naming patterns

Singh is often used the traditional way, as previously described, by having it as the middle name after the first name and followed by the clan/family name by many communities, groups & peoples.[12] For example, "Yogendra Singh Yadav","Prahlad Singh Patel", "Bhupinder Singh Hooda", "Mahendra Singh Dhoni", and "Bhairon Singh Shekhawat". Sikh examples include, "Jassa Singh Ahluwalia", "Jassa Singh Ramgarhia" & "Hari Singh Nalwa" . Thus Singh can be used as a middle name before the individual's surname (last name), a common practice among many groups in India e.g. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (Pattern, 1: First Name, 2: Singh, 3: Family lineage name). Many adherents of Sikh faith across the World, some of which may come from many other races, countries, cultures and groups also use the name "Singh" as a middle name with last name as "Khalsa" e.g. "Avtar Singh Khalsa" (Pattern, 1: First Name, 2: Singh, 3: Belonging to Khalsa Spiritual Family). Another practise among Sikhs is to use village/town/city/country lineage after middle name Singh to avoid using the caste lineage e.g. "Parkash Singh Badal" (Pattern, 1: First Name, 2: Singh, 3: Village/Town/country lineage). Singh is also used as a surname (last name) (for example, "Manmohan Singh", "Vijay Singh", and "Harbhajan Singh").

Earlier, a common practice among the Rajput men was to have Singh as their last name, while Rajput women had the last name of Kumari(Princess) which is derive from "Kanwar"(Prince). However, many Rajput women have Singh in their name as well.[13] Several times during history due to various reasons Rajputs have migrated out of Rajputana their native region; many of those that settled in other parts of India have since come to use Singh as their last name even though they belong to separate Rajput gotras and clans, this happened over several generations due to the local population preferring to popularly calling them just Singh in the new places they settled outside Rajputana, this was usually enough to denote that they belonged to the Kshatriya varna and were Hindu Rajput warriors by caste.[14]

Immigration issues: Common surname

A section of around a million adherents of Sikhism that live abroad in Western countries only keep Singh or Kaur as their last name. This has caused legal problems in immigration procedures especially in Canada with Canadian High Commission in New Delhi, India for a decade stating in letters to its Sikh clients "the names Kaur and Singh do not qualify for the purpose of immigration to Canada" people with these common Sikh surnames have to change their last names before coming to Canada.

The ban was denounced by the Sikh community, after which the Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced it was dropping the policy, calling the whole thing a misunderstanding based on a "poorly worded" letter.[15]

See also

  • Asiatic Lion
  • Narsingh or Narasimha, a half-man (Nar) and half-lion (Singh) incarnation of Vishnu in Hindu religion.
  • Rajputs
  • Yadavs
  • Kaur
  • Rajput Regiment (Indian Army)

References

  1. ^ Raymond Thomas Smith (1996). The matrifocal family: power, pluralism, and politics. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-91214-8, ISBN 978-0-415-91214-3. 
  2. ^ Feuerstein, Georg (2002) [1998]. The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice. Motilal Banarsidass/Hohm. p. 444. ISBN 8120819233. OCLC 39013819. 
  3. ^ The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English 2008 defines Singh as: "Singh / sing/ • n. a title or surname adopted by certain warrior castes of northern India, esp. by male members of the Sikh Khalsa". From the Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English 2008, originally published by Oxford University Press 2008 Singh encyclopedia.com; Also see: Oxford University Press, India
  4. ^ Dahiya, Bhim Singh (1980). Jats, the Ancient Rulers: A Clan Study. New Delhi: Sterling. p. 5. OCLC 7086749. 
  5. ^ Vanita, Ruth (2005). Gandhi's Tiger and Sita's Smile: Essays on Gender, Sexuality and Culture. New Delhi: Yoda Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-8190227254. OCLC 70008421. 
  6. ^ The Wisdom of China and India - By Lin Yutang ISBN 0-394-60759-7
  7. ^ Miao linguistics.com
  8. ^ a b c d e Qanungo, Kalika Ranjan (1960). Studies in Rajput History. Delhi: S. Chand. pp. 138–140. OCLC 1326190. 
  9. ^ A History of the Sikh People (1469-1988) by Dr. Gopal Singh Isbn: 8170231396
  10. ^ P.K. Mohanty (2006). Encyclopaedia Scheduled Tribes In India 5 Vol. Set. Gyan Publishing House. p. 184 to 185. ISBN 9788182050525. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=DfZBc1Gy9g4C&pg=PA185&. "At page 184 "Gujjars belonged to the Kshatriya and Brahmin castes, while they formerly ruled the Gujara-Prathihara Kingdom....during the 6th and 12th Centuries" .At page 185 "With the decline of Budhism in the 8th-10th centuries in parts of northwest India, and the rise of brahmanism, Gujjars were mainly assimilated into the Kshatriya or brahmin castes. While the majority of Gujjars are classified as Kshatriya, evidently from their clan/caste/family names such as chauhan,Rana, Rathore, Bhonsle there are others who have been classified as very high brahmins"." 
  11. ^ Miller, D.B. (1975). From hierarchy to stratification: changing patterns of social inequality in .... Oxford University Press. p. 64. http://books.google.com/books?ei=zTWdS7mmDIOUlAS-9fGtCQ&cd=7&id=K98EAAAAMAAJ&dq=jat+kshatriya&q=Jat+kshatriya#search_anchor. 
  12. ^ Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, Volume I
  13. ^ Kolff, Dirk H.A., The Rajput of Ancient and Medieval North India: A Warrior-Ascetic; Folk, Faith and Feudalism, Edited by NK Singh and Rajendra Joshi, Institute of Rajasthan Studies, Jaipur, India. Rawat Publications, Jaipur and New Delhi. isbn 81-7033-273-8
  14. ^ Joshi, Rajendra, Feudal Bonds; Folk, Faith and Feudalism, Edited by NK Singh and Rajendra Joshi, Institute of Rajasthan Studies, Jaipur, India. Rawat Publications, Jaipur and New Delhi. ISBN 81-7033-273-8
  15. ^ 'Singh' ban denounced

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Singh — (Hindi/Panjabi: Löwe, Sanskrit: Siṃha) ist ein im indischen Raum weit verbreiteter Name, der insbesondere im Sikhismus als religiöser Nachname genutzt wird. Er wird von allen männlichen Sikhs getragen und soll die Verbunden und Gleichheit in der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Singh — est un nom de famille d origine indienne souvent assimilé aux Sikhs. Issu du mot sanskrit sinha, Singh signifie « lion ». On retrouve ce terme dans le nom de la cité État de Singapour, qui est « la ville du lion ». En Inde et… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Singh — common surname and middle name in North India, later (1699) adopted by Sikhs as a title after their initiation ceremony, also a surname adopted by male Sikhs; 1620s in English, from Hind. Singh, from Skt. simhah lion …   Etymology dictionary

  • Singh — Singh, Manmohan …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Singh — Très fréquent aujourd hui en Angleterre, le nom est surtout porté par les Sikhs, qui l ont donné à pratiquement tous les hommes. Il signifie lion …   Noms de famille

  • Singh, V.P. — ▪ prime minister of India in full  Vishwanath Pratap Singh  born June 25, 1931, Allahabad, India died Nov. 27, 2008, New Delhi       politician and government official who was prime minister of India in 1989–90.       Singh studied at Allahabad… …   Universalium

  • Singh — Found recorded in the spellings of Sinha and Singh, this famous surname is Sikh (Hindi Indian) in origin. Given the translation of The lion , it is perhaps not surprising that it is one of the most popular names in the world, however that is not… …   Surnames reference

  • singh — ba·ra·singh; singh; …   English syllables

  • Singh — indischer Name zu Sanskrit simha »Löwe«. Singh ist eigentlich ein Namenzusatz oder Titel, den männliche Sikhs vor ihrem Familiennamen tragen …   Wörterbuch der deutschen familiennamen

  • Singh — [sɪŋ] noun a title or surname adopted by certain warrior castes of northern India, especially by male members of the Sikh Khalsa. Origin from Punjabi siṅgh lion , from Sanskrit siṃha lion …   English new terms dictionary


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