SV: Background of the Sikh name `Singh'?

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Tue Nov 16 20:39:46 UTC 1999

Stefan Baums [SMTP:sb51 at SOAS.AC.UK] skrev 16. november 1999 20:18:
> Hello all.
> A friend of mine has to write an article for the Danish National
> Encyclopaedia (Gyldendal) about the Indian (Sikh?) name `Singh'.
> While the Sanskrit etymology and the fact that the name is widespread
> among Sikhs is obvious, any additional information (and/or references)
> would be highly appreciated (one question that comes to mind: Are all
> those Singhs named after some important person in the history of
> Sikhism?).

May I suggest that your friend consult the following book:

W. Owen Cole/Piara Singh Sambhi. The Sikhs. Their Religious Beliefs and
Practices. Routledge. London, 1989.

On page 36, the explanation of the use of the Singh name runs:

"The members of the new brotherhood, which was called the Khalsa (pure ones),
were to have no dealings with those who followed rival leaders or their
successors and were also instructed to wear five symbols - uncut hair, a comb,
a steel wrist guard, a sword, and short breeches. Initiated men took the name
"Singh" (Lion) [...] women were admitted to the Khalsa, taking the name "Kaur"

In other words, the use of the Singh name is not related to any particular
person. It has rather a symbolic value.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at

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