Pal (surname)

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Pal is a common surname found in India and Bangladesh. It is traditionally believed that 'Pal' originated from Sanskrit 'Pala' meaning protector or keeper.[1]


Pal surname is mostly found among Bengali Kayasthas,[2] a regional subgroup of the Kayastha caste.

Like most of the Bengali Kayastha surnames, 'Pal' or its variant 'Paul' is also found among some other Bengali Hindu castes like Teli, Kumbhakar (potter),[3][4] Subarnabanik and Sadgop.[5]

The Pardhi, a hunter community of Maharashtra is also known as Pal.[6]

The saint Gwalipa told Suraj Sen, the ruler of Gwalior to adopt the surname Pal, which remain prevalent up to eighty three descendants of Suraj Sen.[7]

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.[8]

In imitation of Pal dynasty of Assam, the Chutia also took the surname of Pal.[9]

Also, Pal was the popular surname among the Parmar Rajput rulers of the Garhwal.[10][11]

The rulers of Kullu held the surname of Pal up to about 15th century A.D., which they later changed to Singh.[12]


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.[13] 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.[2]

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.[14]

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.[15]

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".[16]

Several kings of Pala dynasty were Buddhists.[17]

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.[18]





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  1. ^ Sharma, Tej Ram (1978). Personal and Geographical Names in the Gupta Empire. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. p. 56. 
  2. ^ a b Sharma, Tej Ram (1978). Personal and Geographical Names in the Gupta Empire. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company. p. 115. 
  3. ^ Amal Datta (2003). Human Migration: A Social Phenomenon. Mittal Publications,. p. 143. ISBN 9788170998334. 
  4. ^ Alexander Nemerov (2001). The Body of Raphaelle Peale: Still Life and Selfhood, 1812-1824. University of California Press,. pp. 206, 259. ISBN 9780520224988. 
  5. ^ University of Calcutta (1911). Calcutta Review, Volumes 132-133. Publisher University of Calcutta., Original from Indiana University. p. 488. 
  6. ^ People of India: Maharashtra, Part 3. Popular Prakashan,. 2004. pp. 1662–1667. ISBN 9788179911020. 
  7. ^ Trudy Ring, Robert M. Salkin, Sharon La Boda (1994). International Dictionary of Historic Places: Asia and Oceania. Taylor & Francis. p. 312. ISBN 9781884964046. 
  8. ^ James Tod (1922). Annals and Antiquities of Rajast'han, Or the Central and Western Rajpoot States of India. Lyon Public Library. p. 443. 
  9. ^ Swami Bangovinda Parampanthi (1987). Bhagawan Parashuram and Evolution of Culture in North-East India. Daya Publishing House, Original from the University of Michigan. p. 109. ISBN 9788170350330. 
  10. ^ Ajay S. Rawat (2002). Garhwal Himalayas: A Study in Historical Perspective. Indus Publishing,. pp. 278, 275. ISBN 9788173871368. 
  11. ^ B. P. Kamboj (2003). Early Wall Painting of Garhwal. Indus Publishing,. p. 21. ISBN 9788173871399. 
  12. ^ Punjab (India). Public Relations Dept (1956). Kulu, the Happy Valley, Volume 25. Director, Public Relations, Original from Pennsylvania State University. p. 2. 
  13. ^ U. A. B. Razia Akter Banu (1992). Islam in Bangladesh. Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-90-04-09497-0. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  14. ^ André Wink (1991). Al- Hind: The slave kings and the Islamic conquest. 2, Volume 1. BRILL. p. 269. ISBN 9789004095090. 
  15. ^ Radhey Shyam Chaurasia (2002). History of Ancient India. Atlantic Publishers & Dist,. p. 199. ISBN 9788126900275. 
  16. ^ Guptajit Pathak (2008). Assam's history and its graphics. Mittal Publications,. p. 62. ISBN 9788183242516. 
  17. ^ Promsak Jermsawatdi (1979). Thai Art with Indian Influences. Abhinav Publications,. p. 55. ISBN 9788170170907. 
  18. ^ Jhunu Bagchi (1993). The History and Culture of the Pālas of Bengal and Bihar, Cir. 750 A.D.-cir. 1200 A.D. Abhinav Publications,. p. 37. ISBN 9788170173014. 

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