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Kaul (also spelled Koul, Caul or Kol; Kashmiri: कौल (Devanagari), کول (Nastaleeq)) is a surname used by the Kashmiri Pandit community in India. The term also refers to the Kaul clan from which several other krams (surnames) of Kashmir have originated.
The word Kaul, meaning well born, is derived from Kula, the Sanskrit term for family or clan. Its use as a surname or appellation is a derivative of the ancient name Kaula which means well born and is related to Saivite beliefs.
There are several theories regarding the origins of Kaul as a surname.
Kaul from Mahakaul
Kaul/Koul from Shakta worship
Another states that since the Saraswat Brahmins of Kas'mira were believers in Shaivism and Shakta, the peak of Shaivism in Kashmir around the 9th century ~ 12th century gave rise to use of the name. This has led many scholars to believe that almost all Kashmiri Pandits were Kauls/Koul and they were later subdivided into different nicknames, & with the passage of time these nicknames became surnames. In recent years the use of the nicknames is being progressively discarded and surname Kaul/Koul is being adopted by almost all such people. The word Kaul/Koul is associated with being an aghoreshwara or enlightened. The practitioners (sadhaks) of the Tantra, associated with Shakti worship, are believed to reach the top of the spiritual ladder, and thus become a Kaul/Koul.
Notable people with Kaul surname
- Bansi Kaul (1949 – ), theatre director
- Brij Mohan Kaul, commanded the Indian forces in the Sino-Indian War
- Hari Kishan Kaul (d. 1942), Kashmiri politician and author
- Kailas Nath Kaul (1905–1983), Indian botanist and agricultural scientist, brother of Kamala
- Kamala Kaul Nehru (1899–1936), Indian freedom fighter and wife of first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
- Kanchi Kaul, Indian TV actress & model
- Manav Kaul, Indian theatre director, playwright, actor and film-maker
- Mani Kaul (1944–2011), Indian film director
- Manohar Kaul (1925– ), painter
- P. K. Kaul (1929-2007), ambassador of India to the United States (1986–1989)
- Siddarth Kaul, Indian cricketer, medium pace bowler
- Sheila Kaul (1915-2015) Indian politician, cabinet minister
- S. K. Kaul (b. 1934), Air Chief Marshal of the Indian Air Force, former Chief of Air Staff (India) (1993–1995)
- T.N. Kaul (1913–2000), Indian diplomat, Indian Foreign Secretary (1967 - 1972)
- V. N. Kaul (b. 1943), Indian civil servant, CAG (2002-2008), Padma Bhushan
- Sanjay Kaul (b. 1962), Indian businessman and founder of the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies
- Shikha Khanduja Kaul, Indian writer
- Kumar Suresh Singh (1996). People of India: Delhi. Manohar Publishers for Anthropological Survey of India. p. 324. ISBN 978-8173040962. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
- Schofield, Victoria (2003). Kashmir in conflict. I.B. Tauris & Co. p. 4. ISBN 1860648983. Retrieved 25 June 2012., ...looms rose to 24,000 by 1813. Despite the religious oppression that many hindus were subjected , they were however, useful to the Afghans because of their administrative experience. Kashmiri Pandits were not prevented into entering into government service & there were some families whose names consistently appear in public service - the Dhars, Kauls, Tikkus & Saprus.
- Irvin Molotsky, Wayne King (2 September 1986). "The Kauls are Everywhere". nytimes.com. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- "Last Name Origins and Meanings". familyeducation.com. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
- Bhat, S.; Kaul, J. N.; Dhar, B. B.; Shalia, Arun (2008). Kashmiri Scholars Contribution to Knowledge & World Peace. New Delhi: APH Publishing. pp. 130–133. ISBN 978-81-313-0402-0. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
- Bhat, S.; Koal, J. N.; Dhar, B. B.; Shalia, Arun (2008). Kashmiri Scholars Contribution to Knowledge & World Peace. New Delhi: APH Publishing. p. 131. ISBN 978-81-313-0402-0. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
- Kaul, Ram Krishen (1982). Sociology of Names and Nicknames of India, with special reference to Kas'mira. New Delhi: Utpal Publications. p. 98. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
- Bhat, S.; Koal, J. N.; Dhar, B. B.; Shalia, Arun (2008). Kashmiri Scholars Contribution to Knowledge & World Peace. New Delhi: APH Publishing. pp. 130–133. ISBN 978-81-313-0402-0. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
- Koal, Ram Krishen (1982). Sociology of Names and Nicknames of India, with special reference to Kas'mira. New Delhi: Utpal Publications. p. 161.