Shauna Singh Baldwin sbaldwin at EXECPC.COM
Fri Nov 19 01:19:55 UTC 1999

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
     among Sikhs is obvious, any additional information (and/or
     would be highly appreciated (one question that comes to mind: Are
     those Singhs named after some important person in the history of
     Many thanks in advance,

Dear Stefan:
All Sikh men are called Singhs, but all Singhs are not Sikhs. There are
Rajput Hindu families that
predate Sikhism and have the last name Singh, meaning Lion. The Tenth
Guru, Guru Gobind Singh,
created the Khalsa, the ideal Sikh, 300 years ago on April 14, 1699 and
said, among other things,
that he should bear the last name Singh, with the objective that no one
should practise caste in
Sikhism (There is a diff between ideal and practise, of course) since
with the same last name, a
family's caste/occupation name could be hidden/dropped. Sikh women were
to bear the last name
Kaur, or Princess, so that men should think of us as valuable as
princesses. (Again there is a
difference between theory and practise). The Encyclopedia of World
Religions, recently reprinted, is
an excellent source as it now has a chapter on Sikhism by Eleanor
Nesbitt. Also, refer to Ethics of
the Sikhs by Avtar Singh, and The Sikhs, by Owen Cole and Piara Singh

Shauna Singh Baldwin
What the Body Remembers ( Knopf Canada; Transworld UK; Nan
USA; Seuil France, Bertelsmann, Germany; Mondadori Editore, Italy. 1999)

English Lessons and Other Stories (Goose Lane, Canada 1996; Harper
Collins India, 1999)
A Foreign Visitor's Survival Guide to America (John Muir Publications
USA, 1992)

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