More on concatenated Bengali last names

The credit of this post goes to Mr. Rudrin Purakayastha. With his permission, I am simply editing as this post, his comments on my previous post, entitled “Concatenated Bengali names.” I have not checked the complete correctness of the views, but they seem logical…

Concatenation of surnames is not unique in Bengal, If you study in depth then you see that it is also present in other parts of our country like Thakore Desai, Dutt Chowdhury, Sinh Rathore, etc.

Bengali vaidyas started identifying themselves as off-shoots of Brahmin Father and Vaishya mother, calling themselves as either Sengupta or Sensharma (where Gupta indicates vaishya and Sharma brahmana). This practice is hardly 200-250 years old. There are vaidyas today with non-compounding surnames such as Das, Dutta, Kar, Sen, Gupta etc.

Most Bengali kayasthas have their surnames common with lower castes as Kayastha is not only an Kshatriya clan, but this also means writer in Sanskrit. This is a profession that can be taken by brahmins and other castes.That is why Purakayastha surname is also found in Bengali Brahmins.

Whenever an ancient bengali takes up the profession of kayastha he used to combine that title with his surname. Some examples:

SenMajumdar is a person with a surname Sen, but the profession of a Majumdar (similar to the Marathi word Mujumdar, which actually derives from the Pharsi majmuadaran).

GhoshMoulik: Kayastha Ghoshes are generally kulin but some of them are Moulik (not kulin) they use it to distinguish themselves.
Roy is a small jaminder and Roychowdhury is the bigger one.

3 thoughts on “More on concatenated Bengali last names

  1. I am interested to know the origin of the word Vaidyas (which is a cast in India) and is there any relation between the words vaidyas and ” Vedas”? I also want to know what is “Baidyo ” cast in Bengal? I was told that in ancient India there was a group of people called “Vaidyas” , whose occupation was to do research on Anatomy,Medicine etc. ,i.e. on the laws of nature to inculcate a spirit of truth or knowledge of the physical world among mass. I was also told that lateron they became untouchable as per the decision of the brahmins or Priests. I know the fate of the great philisophers like Socretes,Bruno,Galileo …who were either executed or tortured /imprisoned by the priests for revealing the fact of a law of the nature. I really want to know from my learned friends ,did a similar kind of attempt to suppress our knowledge on physical sciences, by the so called priests, were made in the ancient India ? If the story of “vaidyas” in ancient India is fact, then the backlog in our knowledge base in science should make us suffer till tpoday ! Please let me know your views in this regard.

  2. Dear Debasis,

    “Dvijeshu Vaidya shreyangsha “ – Mahabharata, Udyagparba

    1) Vaidya is a title conferred to the Brahmin who has completed the four Vedas including the Ayurveda and he is considered academically superior to other Brahmins(dvija) and is called “trija”(thrice born). It’s not a title one can get by birth, but one has to attain it by studying.- Charaka samhita

    2) A Vaidya (after he becomes one) can deal with any other study like Nyay,tarka, kavya,vyakaran,mimansa, jyotisha etc and need not practice medicine only. But none other than the Vaidya-brahmin is allowed to practice medicine. Vashistha was a Vaidya, he was chiefly a priest.

    3) Saraswati river, which used to flow through Punjab is a very important river in Vedic civilization. Many eminent Vedic scholars resided on the bank of this Saraswati river and many of them studied and practiced Ayurveda. A traditional line of Vaidyas was created among these saraswat Brahmins and they had connections with Shakadwipi Brahmins who were also adept in medicinal studies.After saraswati river dried up, the Saraswat Brahmins migrated to different parts of India, one branch went to south via Rajasthan,Gujarat and Maharashtra and another went to Kashmir,Haryana,UP. They not only continued their pursuit of knowledge but also became kings/rulers and ruled over many places.

    4) Vaidya community of Bengal, a unique close-knit and aristocratic community, is a branch of this Saraswat Brahmin community with predominatly Shukla-Yajurvedi Kanva-shakha heritage .(It should be noted that Vaidya surname and some exclusive gotras like Dhanvantari are only found among Saraswats of other places, also many Saraswats claim descent from a Rajarshi Raja Rattan Sen) They were traditional teachers and practitioners of Ayurveda and it had become a family-tradition. The first flow of Vaidyas into Bengal came from South-western India via Orissa in early 11th century. They were called “Ambastha-Brahmin” because Ambastha was a place in Punjab where many Saraswat Brahmins including vaidyas resided . They named themselves after the name of their ancestral place. Ashwapati Sen, Adishur, Samanta Sen, the kings of the Sena dynasties were all Vaidyas coming from southern India. Later , king Adishur invited four more Vaidya pandits(of Dhanvantari, Shaktri, Moudgalya and Kashyapa gotra) from Kannauj (UP).

    5) So Vaidyas share common ancestry with Saraswat Brahmins of Punjab,Kashmir,Rajasthan, Maharashtra,Karnataka, Kerala(There are traditional ayurvedic “Ashta-vaidya” Brahmin families in Kerala) and related clans like Bhumihars,Tyagis etc. Vaidyas had marital alliances with Maharashtriya and Odiya saraswats even upto 14 th century(Bopdeva, the famous vaidya scholar, author of “Mugdhabodha” is one such example) and Saraswats are aware of that. Vaidyas have maintained the “Rajarshi” or “Brahma-kshatra” tradition started by Parshurama of doubling up as both scholars and rulers. Vaidyas have not only given birth to a galaxy of scholars(including famous Ayurvedic kavirajs, poets like Dhoyee, Vijay gupta, krishnananda Kaviraj, kavi karnapur and Lochandas, Astrologers like Prajapati dash, Mathematicians like Acharya Shubhankar, saints like Ramprasad sen and Krishnanda Swamy, Scientists like Amal Kumar Roychaudhuri and Philosophers like Surendranath dasgupta, Kshitimohan Sen and Amartya Sen) but also many kings like Sen dynasty, Adishur, Shriharsha Sen, Rajballabh Sen, Rambhadra Ray etc.

    6) The Vaidyas have been wrongly interpreted as Vaishyas or “sankar”(hence Shudras) by some evil scholars with hidden agenda in some puranas. But there are many verses in Veda and in ancient purans that prove doubtlessly that the traditional vedic sanskritist clan of vaidyas cannot be non-Brahmin.Due to some vindictive steps by Lakshman Sen(following a dispute with his father) and later a conspiracy by some shrewd pundits (who were jealous of the prosperous vaidyas)at the court of Raja Ganesh demoted the Vaidyas to a state of Vaishya/Shudra-hood for 150 years(on account of their coming in proximity with the untouchables during treatment and dealing with human wastes). But with the endeavor of different Vaidya and other Brahmin pandits(from all over India) and some kings like Raja Rajballabh, Vaidyas performed Shuddhi or Prayashchitta and returned to the Brahmin-status. Now-a-days, they have returned to the original tradition of using “Sharma” during rituals and following other Brahmin customs.

    7) Till date, they are the most literate among all Bengali-clans and most of them are cultured, academically inclined, and well-established. They have excelled as teachers, doctors and administrators and also showed excellence in literature, music and art.

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