Shah (surname)

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Shah is an Indian surname. It is often confused with the Persian "Shah" meaning "King". It is derived from Sanskrit Sadhu (meaning gentleman[1]).

The surname like various other Indian surnames was also adopted by various other people.[2][3] The Shah surname is adopted by the trade communities (The Banias/Vanias ) in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states.The Shah/Sah surname is also used by Gond community in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Banias include the Jains and the Vaishnavas. It was widely used by the Jains even outside of Gujarat and Rajasthan, for example in Delhi/Haryana (see Nattal Sahu), Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh (see Sahu Jain) and Maharashtra, India.

The Hindi word 'Shahukara', meaning banker, is derived from Sahu (Sanskrit "Sadhu") and kar (Sanskrit for doer).[4]

Shah, a different last name, derived from the Persian word "Shah", is a surname found among the Iranian peoples of Central Asia, Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan.Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page). ) and Prakrit Sahu, while the actual spelling "Shah" in Western culture was popularized by the title of the former Persian King. As a result, especially in Western culture, use of the spelling "Shah" has become far more pronounced than the other variants.[5] The word Sadhu/Sahu is also separately used to indicate a Jain monk. See Namokar Mantra.

In the Gujarat and Rajasthan region, the surname Shah derives from the vernacular sah (from Sanskrit Sadhu, "merchant"). The surname appears to have been altered under the influence of the Persian word for "king" (Shah) or its variants.[citation needed]

One early use of the title Sadhu occurs in an inscription on an AD 850 Parshvanth image in the Akota Bronzes.[6]

In numerous 12-13th century inscriptions the shravaka who installed the image, is given the title "Sahu".[7]

सं १५१० वर्षे माघ सुदी ८ सोमे गोपाचल दुर्गे तोमर वंशान्वये राजा श्री डूंगरेन्द्र देव राज्य पवित्रमाने श्री काष्ठासंघ माथुरान्वये भट्टारक श्री गुणकीर्ति देवास्तत्पट्टे श्री मलयकीर्ति देवास्ततो भट्टारक गुणभद्रदेव पंडितवर्य रइघू तदाम्नाये अग्रोतवंशे वासिलगोत्रे सकेलहा भार्या निवारी तयोः पुत्र विजयष्ट शाह ... साधु श्री माल्हा पुत्र संघातिपति देउताय पुत्र संघातिपति करमसीह श्री चन्द्रप्रभु जिनबिंब महाकाय प्रतिष्ठापित प्रणमति ..शुभम् भवतु ..

A Gwalior Fort Inscription 1453 CE[8]

For example:

Here the word Sahu is equivalent to the Sanskrit word "sadhu". Some inscriptions use "sadhu" itself :

  • From Bahuriband (Katni, MP): "Svasti shri samvat 1070 phalgunavadi ...

madhavannandinugrahitah sadhu-shri sarvadharah .."

The word Sadhu here does not mean a monk but a "gentleman". Some inscriptions abbreviate sahu by just "sa" just like the abbreviation in English, "Mr."

Shah may also relate to the Chands of Gorakhpur who were sent to Nepal as a punishment after the martyring of Bandhu Singh of tarkulha devi

They were given the Zamindari of 52 villages which they named as Shivraj (now Kapilvastu) they had good relationship with the Taluqdars of Oudh and had held important posts in Nepal's durbar Shri Gaya Prasad Shah - Former minister Ministry of Food and Supplement Shri Shiv Pratap Shah - Former deputy speaker of the Jan Sabha and Former Minister Ministry of Finance Dr. Rudra Pratap Shah - Royal Advisor Shri Raghavendra Pratap Shah - Former Minister, Ministry of Telecommunications Shri Ajay Pratap Shah - Former Member of Parliament Shri Abhay Pratap Shah - Former Chairman , Krishna nagar VdC , Kapilvastu Shri Abhishek Pratap Shah- Former Member of Constituent Assembly and Member of Parliament

In some business communities, genealogies are recited during marriages, where all ancestors would be respectfully called "sahu". The term "sahukari"means the profession of banking/trading. In the Bundelkhand Jain community, the father-in-law (or son's/daughter's father-in-law) used to be called "sahaji". Thus the words "Shah" etc. all indicate a respected member of the mercantile community. Today it is used by Gujarati business communities.

People with the surname[edit]

This list includes people with both the Indian surname Shah and the surname of Persian origin meaning king. Notable people with the surname include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shakespear, John. A dictionary, Hindustani and English: with a copious index, fitting the work to serve, also, as a dictionary of English, Nepali and Hindustani. 3rd ed., much enl. London: Printed for the author by J.L. Cox and Son: Sold by Parbury, Allen, & Co., 1834, p.1035
  2. ^ Kumar, R. (2006). Costumes and textiles of royal india. ISBN 1851495096
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Shah Name Meaning and History". Retrieved 2010-12-28. 
  6. ^ Akota Bronzes,Umakant P.Shah, 1959, p. 52-53
  7. ^ Kasturchand Jain Suman, Bharatiya Digambar Jain Abhilekh aur Tirth Parichay, Madhya-Pradesh: 13 vi shati tak, Delhi, 2001
  8. ^ Gopachal ke Jinamandir Archived October 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Indian Sculpture: 700-1800, Volume 2 of Indian Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection, Pratapaditya Pal, University of California Press, 1988, p. 306