Dissecting Bengali Personal Names - Part 2 of 7

Written by: Nimish Adani



Time to read min

We take a deep dive in to the fascinating world of Bengali names. This is the 2nd of 7 posts we've written on the subject. Each post is written in the form of notes and observations on the subject.

In this post, we dig in to Bengali names that draw inspiration from the pantheon of Hindu Gods & Goddesses.


There are at least thirty different names by which Shiva is worshipped in the Bengali household. Most of these names are in frequent use as personal names in Bengal. The point to notice here is that some names directly refer to him - Shankar, Shombhu, Kedar, Ishan, Mahesh, Bishwanath, some refer to him indirectly — Umesh (husband of Uma), and others are attributive, i.e., Neelkantha, Ashutosh, Bhola Nath, Poshupati, Ohibhushan.


Durga has something like twenty odd names which Bengalees have taken on as personal names. Some of these again refer directly to her — Uma, Gouri, Sharbori, Baroda, Bhagoboti, Bhabani. Some are indirectly referential — Shibani, Aghorkamini and some are attributive — Annapurna, Parboti, Shailoja, Aporajita.


Saraswati is the goddess of learning, the visual and the performing arts. She is, therefore, not only the presiding deity in schools, colleges and other institutions of learning but is worshipped with enthusiasm in Bengali homes too. Some of the names of this goddess used in Bengali homes are Bimala, Binapani, Bharati, Sharoda and Mahasheta.


Goddess Lakshmi (pronounced Lokkhi) is the goddess of prosperity and domestic well-being. Her names which occur as personal names are: Kamola, Narayani, Indira, Rama and Lokkhi.

Kartick and Ganesh

Ganesh and Kartick are infrequently used as personal names; Ganesh has a variant Herembo, which is thus used, but Kartick has none.


Goddess Kali is another incarnation of mother Durga. She is known as Kali and Shama (so-called because of her dark complexion) and Chondi. Jaba is the name of a flower which is dear to the goddess and, therefore, by transferred epithet has become the name of the goddess herself. All these are used as personal names in Bengali.


Lord Krishna entered the Bengali household in the shape of personal names in about 25 odd forms. Some of the most popular of these are: Krishno, Shyam, Hori, Madhab, Keshab, Gobindo, Janardan, Madhusadan, Ghanesham, Basudeb, Nandolal, Bonomali.


Vishnu the 'protector', of whom Lord Krishna is an incarnation, has been the source of about a dozen names like Bishnu, Shrikanto, Srish, Hrishikesh, Jogendro, Upendro and Narayan.

Other Gods

Brohma, the creator has given a handful of names like Pronob, Onkar and Shayombu: Indra about half a dozen — Amborish, Suresh, Basal, Indro, Sachipati, Suresh, Mahendro. The love-god, Madan is responsible for another half a dozen — Atanu, Monoj, Monmotho, Kamdeb, Madon.

Arjun and his brothers

Of the Pandava brothers, in the great epic Mahabharat, Arjun (Orjun in Bengali) has been the closest to the Bengali heart. Apart from this name itself, his other names which Bengalees have made frequent use of are: Bijoy, Dhananjoy, Falguni, Kirti, Partho. Arjun, however, was an aesthete (having learned music and dance in Indra's court). He even passed off as a teacher of music and dance when the Pandavas had to live incognito. It is the aesthetic temper of Arjun which makes him so attractive to Bengalees.

The Pastoral Beauties

Personal names in Bengali have been fashioned after, not surprisingly, the ideal wives and mothers in the Pauranic literature: Shita, Sabitri, Radha, Urmilla and Orundhuti. But apart from these, Bengalees have shown a preference not for the major characters but minor characters, the bewitchingly beautiful maidens of pastoral sub-plots: Shakuntala, her companions Anusuiya and Priyambada; Debjani, Sharmistha, Tilottama, Menoka and Urbashi; the companions of Durga, Bijoya (Radha's mate), Lolita. As for male names the preference has been for the sages: Nachiketa, Tapos, Jajati, Janak, etc. No fewer than fifty names have been drawn from the Pauranic literature.


The Buddhist influence over the Bengali psyche has been great. Not surprisingly, Buddha has been a source of personal names: Goutom, Buddho, Amitabho, Siddhartho and Tothogoto. The wife of Buddha, Gopa, is also a popular name.

Other Historical Figures

The other historical figures who have lent their names are: Chaitanya, Gorachand, Nityanando, Chandidas and Meera.)

Source: Book of Indian Names by Raja Ram Mehrotra

P.S.: You can read the previous and subsequent parts of this topic using the links below: