According to James Tod, The Princes of Garh Mandla, for ages continued the surname of Pal, which is indicative of their nomadic occupation. The Aheers, who occupied all the Central India and have left Aheerwara a memorial of their existence, was a bunch of the same race, Aheer being a synonym for Pal.
In Bengal, during the reign of the Gupta Empire beginning in the 4th century AD, when systematic and large-scale colonization by Aryan Kayasthas and Brahmins first took place, Kayasthas were brought over by the Guptas to help manage the affairs of state. During this period, the Kayasthas had not developed into a distinct caste, although the office of the Kayasthas (scribes) had been instituted before the beginning of the period, as evidenced from the contemporary smritis. Tej Ram Sharma, an Indian historian, says that
The names of brahmanas occurring in our inscriptions sometimes end in a non-brahmanic cognomen such as Bhatta, Datta and Kunda, etc., which are available in the inscriptions of Bengal. Surnames like Datta, Dama, Palita, Pala, Kunda (Kundu), Dasa, Naga and Nandin are now confined to Kayasthas of Bengal but not to brahmanas. Noticing brahmanic names with a large number of modern Bengali Kayastha cognomens in several early epigraphs discovered in Bengal, some scholars have suggested that there is a considerable brahmana element in the present day Kayastha community of Bengal. Originally the professions of Kayastha (scribe) and Vaidya (physician) were not restricted and could be followed by people of different varnas including the brahmanas. So there is every probability that a number of brahmana families were mixed up with members of other varnas in forming the present Kayastha and Vaidya communities of Bengal.
Andre Wink states
Abu al-Fazl, describes these kings (the Pal Kings) as Kayastha. Bengal, in effect, became the land of the Kayasthas, having been ruled by the Kayasthas for about 2000 years. Sanskrit sources such as Rajtarangini however do not yet regard Kayastha as a caste in any sense but as a category of "officials" or "scribes". Between the fifth or sixth centuries (when we first hear of them) and the eleventh-twelfth centuries, its component elements were putative Kshatriyas and, for the larger majority Brahmins, who either retained their caste identity or became Buddhists while laying down the sacred thread. The Kayasthas obtained aspect of a caste perhaps under the Senas.
Accordind to Radhey Shyam Chourasia, an Indian historian, the Palas do not trace their origin to any ancient hero. The dynasty is so called because the names of all kings had the termination - Pala. The family has no illustrious ancestry.
The opinion of Guptajit Pathak, another historian, is that the Palas of Kamarupa, who had the same surname as the Palas of Bengal and Bihar (Gaura and Magadha), "were perhaps of non-Aryan origin".
Several kings of Pala dynasty were Buddhists.
According to the Khalimpur Plate of Dharmapala, Gopala I, the founder of the dynasty, "was the son of a warrior Vapyata and the grandson of a highly educated Dayitavishnu". Unlike other contemporary dynasties, the Palas "do not claim descent from any mythological figure or epic hero". The Kamauly Copper Plate inscription suggests that Palas call themselves Kshatriyas belonging to Solar dynasty. "According to Manjusree Mulakalpa, Gopala I was a sudra and according to Abul Fazl, the Palas were Kayasthas." In Ramacharita, the Pala King Rampala is called Kshatriya but later in the same book Dharmapala is described as Samudrakula-dipa. Bagchi suggests that "the non-mention of caste may be a reason that the Palas were Buddhists and they were not supposed to mention their caste like the Brahmanical ruling dynasties", though they performed the duties and functions of Kshatriyas for about four centuries.
- Bipin Chandra Pal (1858–1932), soldier for Indian independence, journalist, writer
- Kristo Das Pal (1839–1884), politician, journalist, orator and the editor of Hindoo Patriot
- Rupchand Pal (born 1936), politician
- Saju Paul, Indian politician from Kerala
- Debi Prasad Pal (born 1927), Indian lawyer, judge and cabinet minister
- Ruma Pal (born 1941), Indian Supreme Court judge
- Radhabinod Pal (1886–1967), judge
- Anadish Pal (born 1963), inventor and poet
- Sankar K. Pal, scientist and researcher, Director of the ISI-Calcutta
- Niranjan Pal (1889–1959), screenwriter and director (son of Bipin Chandra Pal)
- Colin Pal (1923–2005), actor and director (grandson of Bipin Chandra Pal)
- Beena Paul, Indian film editor in Malayalam
- Amala Paul, Indian film actress in Tamil and Malayalam cinema
- Arin Paul (1923–2005), director
- Sunil Pal, Bengali actor and comedian
- Tapas Paul, Bengali actor and politician
- Sohini Paul, Bengali actress (daughter of Tapas Paul)
- Arpita Pal, Bengali actress
- Amit Paul, Bollywood playback singer
- Indrani Pal Chaudhuri, director, photographer and digital artist
- Jai Paul, British musician
- Gostha Pal (1896–1976), football player
- Subrata Pal, football player
- Josef Pal, American soccer player
- Rajinder Pal, cricketer
- Bachendri Pal, first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest
- Krishna Pal (1762–1822), early Indian convert to Christianity
- Murugan Pal, entrepreneur
- Gogi Saroj Pal, artist
- Satya Paul, Indian designer
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