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1. ONOMASTICS Onomastics is the study of names. It is an interesting discipline. The study of how names in a society are formed, and what underlying processes and concepts are involved in their formation and use provide an insight into the culture and social psychology of that society. 2. HINDU PERSONAL NAMES Most Hindu personal names are derived from the names of gods, rivers, seasons, certain qualities, virtues, etc. For example,Mahadev (pronounced as Mahadeva in south India) is the name of Lord Shiva, one of the three major Hindu gods. It literally means "great god." Dayananda means 'the joy of compassion': daya means 'compassion' and ananda means 'joy'. The name of the native place also forms a part of the names of most south Indians. For example, the name U.R. Rao may stand for Udupi Ramachandra Rao, Udupi being the native place and Ramachandra being father's name. 3. ASSAMESE HINDU PERSONAL NAMES In this article an attempt is made to analyze the Assamese Hindu personal names given to males. Only male names are selected this time around. The female names are kept outside the purview of this study, as they will form part of a future study. I selected fifty personal names for this study. The selection was random and not based on any established parameters. The study was aimed at examining the basis for the formation of Hindu personal names in Assamese. 4. SOME IMPORTANT RESULTS RELATING TO ASSAMESE HINDU PERSONAL NAMES FOR MALES This analysis revealed that neither father's name nor place name is suffixed or prefixed to any Assamese personal name. An Assamese personal name typically consists of two segments: a first name and a surname. For example, the name Dr. Bhupen Hazarika (the legendary singer of Assam, Dadasaheb Phalke awardee, and currently the President of Sangeet Natak Academy) has these two

segments. Bhupen is actually the shortened form of Bhupendra, which means 'king of the earth.' Historically,Hazarika was the rank of an officer who was in charge of one thousand soldiers during the Ahom rule in Assam. In course of time this title became the surname, and the subsequent generations inherited it. Some Assamese personal names consist of three segments, namely, first name, middle name, and surname. The first name is the name given by parents, and surname is inherited. The middle name generally does not carry much significance. Yet the deletion of the same may render it informal. In other words, in informal situations the middle is generally omitted. For example, the late Dr. Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya, the Gnanapeeth (highest literary award in India) winner (and incidentally my maternal grandfather, being my mother's uncle), and president of the Central Sahitya Academy was popularly known as Biren Bhatta. There is a complete transformation, as one can see it. Birendra becomes Biren, a process commonly found in Assamese as well as Bengali names, Kumar is completely omitted, and Bhattacharya is shortened to Bhatta. However, such transformations are not permitted in a formal setting. 5. SANSKRIT ORIGIN OF MOST ASSAMESE PERSONAL NAMES An analysis of these fifty names has shown that Assamese Hindu male personal names are mostly derived from Sanskrit words denoting expressions of gods, stars, planets, satellites, rivers, mountains, hills, flowers, different manifestations of nature, jewels, mental condition, name of month, day, etc. 6. CLASSIFICATION OF PERSONAL NAMES Accordingly, the names are classified as follows. Note that the Officers in the list below can be understood to be officers of the Ahom kings. 1. Names related to gods - Eleven out of this list of fifty names are found to refer to gods. i. Iswar Prasad Barua - Iswar (written as pronounced and spelt by Assamese people) means God. Prasad means bestowal or gift. Barua is the rank of an officer under Ahom kings of Assam. ii. Bhagwan Dutta Saikia - Bhagawan - God. Dutta - bestowal or Gift. Saikia - rank of an officer over one hundred soldiers. iii. Mahadev Phukan - Mahadev - Lord Shiva, Phukan - rank of an officer. iv. Bisnuram Medhi - Bisnu - Lord Vishnu, Ram - Lord Ram, Medhi - officers appointed by satras (vaishnavite maths) to collect contributions from the disciples.

Lakhminath Bezbarua - Lakhminath - consort of goddess Lakshmi, i.e. Lord Vishnu; Bezbarua - medical officer. vi. Maheshwar Neog : Maheshwar -Lord Shiva. Neog - An officer (especially of Intelligence). vii. Mukti Nath Sarma: Mukti - salvation, Nath - Master (Muktinath means giver of salvation i.e. Lord Shiva), Sarma - surname used by Brahmins (Sharma elsewhere in the country is pronounced Sarma in Assamese). viii. Bisnu Prasad Rabha: Bisnu - Lord Vishnu. Prasad - bestowal, Rabha - name of an ethnic community in Assam. ix. Gopinath Bordoloi: Gopi - milkwoman Nath- master. Gopinath together means Lord Krishna. Bordoloi - chief astrologer of Ahom kings. 2. Names related to mind/state of mind i. Bodheswar Hazarika: Bodh - power of understanding, Iswar God, Hazarika (already explained). ii. Moneshwar Kalita: Mon - mind, Kalita (pronounced Kolita) name of an Assamese upper caste. iii. Tosheshwar Hatibarua: Tosh - satisfaction, ishwar - God, Hatibarua - an officer. 3. Names related to seasons i. Ritu Kumar Sarma: Ritu - season, Kumar - bachelor, Sarma surname used by Brahmins. ii. Basanta Borpujari: Basanti - spring, Bor - Head/priest, Pujari priest. iii. Hemanta Saikia: Hemanta - autumn, Saikia - (already explained) iv. Sarat Kotoky: Sarat - the third season of six Indian seasons, Kotoky - an emissary. 4. Names related to jewels/metals i. Ratnadhar Barkotoki - Ratna - jewel; Dhar- the holder; Barkataki chief accounts officer. ii. Hiranath Barman - Hira -diamond, nath - master, owner; Barman surname used by warrior community. iii. Manik Barua - Manik -gem; Barua - already explained. iv. Sonadhar Dolakasoria - Son/sona - gold; Dola -palanquin; Kasoria - by the side of; Dolakasoria - security guards by the side of the king's palanquin. v. Rupnath Barua - Rup - silver/beauty/shape; nath - owner, Barua already explained vi. Mukuta Bora - Mukuta - pearl; Bora - An officer over 20 soldiers.







Maniram Dewan - Mani - gem; Ram - Lord Ram; Dewan minister Names related to Month/Day etc. i. Moghai Ojah: Moghai - one born in the month of Magh (10th month of Hindu calendar); Ojah - teacher, instructor ii. Puhai Bez: Puhai - one born in the month of Puh (9th month of Hindu calendar); Bez - faith healer iii. Aghona Haloi: Aghona - one born in the month of Aghon (7th month of Hindu calendar); Haloi - Sweetmeat maker iv. Budhai Dutta: Budhai - one who is born on Wednesday; Dutta bestowal. The important point to note here is that names under this category are found archaic and are not found commonly. Names related to flower and fruit i. Golap Borbora: Golap - rose, Bor-chief; Bora - officer over 20 soldiers ii. Padum Barua: Padum - lotus, Barua - already explained. iii. Dalim Gogoi: Dalim - pomegranate; Gogoi - a surname used by Ahoms Names related to river, sea etc. i. Sagar Bormudoi: Sagar - sea; Bor - chief/main; Mudoi - trader, dealer ii. Luit Das: Luit - local name of the river Brahmaputra; Das servant (of god) iii. Lohit Kumar Rajbangshi: Lohit - Another name of tiver Brahmaputra; Kumar - Bachelor, young one; Rajbangshi - an ethnic community Names related to food items i. Makhan Chandra Buragohain: Makhan -butter; Chandra - moon; Buragohain - Prime Minister of Ahom kings. ii. Dadhi Barik: Dadhi - curd; Barik - officer for collecting revenue from satras (Vaishnavite maths) Names related to beauty, physical strength, wealth, etc. i. Bitupon Bujarbarua: Bitupon - lovely, beautiful; Bujarbarua intelligence officer of the Ahom kings ii. Bolobhadra Das: Bol - strength, energy; Bhadra - civilized; Das servant (of god) iii. Dhaniram Bailung: Dhani - rich; Ram - Lord Ram; Bailung astrologer and Priest of Ahom community iv. Joyram Khaund: Joy - victory; Ram - Lord Ram; Khaund - officer in charge of immersing ashes of Ahom kings in the Ganges


Loknath Bharali: Lok - people, Nath - master; Bharali storekeeper vi. Mohan Gayen: Mohan - mesmerizing; Gayen - singer of Assamese folk song. 10. Names with non-Sanskrit Origin Though Assamese has many personal names derived from the surrounding tribal languages and Tai language (the language of the Ahoms who ruled Assam for six hundred years before the British), only one name has been identified from this list of fifty words. Lachit Barphukan: La-seven(Tai); Chit -son(Tai); Barphukan - the rank of Viceroy of lower Assam during the reign of Ahom kings. This rank was conferred as a great honour. Lachit Barphukan has been the all time hero of Assam, considered as the epitome of courage, valour and patriotism. It was this great general who defeated the Mughal army of Aurangzeb at Soraighat, i.e. the banks of the Brahmaputra. 7. A FEW CONCLUDING REMARKS 1. Analysis of Hindu personal names gives an insight into the social psychology of the community. Study with a larger sample will give further insight. 2. The caste of the individual is never revealed in the first name. Surnames do reveal the caste sometimes, but not always. 3. First names are derived from various sources as identified and classified above. Middle names are drawn from a smaller pool, generally Prasad, Kumar, Ram, Chandra, Nath, etc 4. Most of the surnames came from the ranks given by Ahom kings but these names are inherited now.


I acknowledge with gratitude the help and encouragement I received from my grandfather Mr. Muktinath Sarma, an advocate, teacher, and history scholar.