Sunday, March 7, 2010

A note on Mukhopadhyay

Note on Mukhopadhyay
Mukhopadhyay (Sanskrit: मुखोपाध्याय , Bengali : মুখোপাধ্যায় ) is a bharadvAja gotra, Radhi Bengali Brahmin surname.

Also spelled as Mukhopadhya, Mukhopadhyaya), it is the same as Mukherjee (also spelt as Mukherji, Mukerji, Mukherjea, Mookerjea, Mookherjee) is the same as Mukhati (also spelt as mukhuti).

Mukhopadhyay - Religious Teacher of Mukhoti Village
Mukhopadhyay can be split into two parts - Mukh and Upadhyay. Mukh refers to Mukhati village near Bankura in West Bengal and Upadhyay (in Sanskrit) refers to teacher - Mukhopadhyay thus means "teacher or religious teacher of Mukhoti village".

Mukha + Upadhyay -> Mukhopadhyay (Sanskrit)
Mukh + Uvvajhey/ Ovaajhey -> Mukhuvajhhey/ Mukovajjhye (Ardha- Magadhi Prakrit dialect / proto-Bengali dialect)
Mukh + Ujjhey -> Mukkujye (Old Bengali )
Mukherjee (A gift from the British rulers of India)

On Mukherjee
Please note that in British English, unlike General American, the sound "er" is pronounced as Indian "uh" - i.e., the "r" is silent. Thus Mukherjee is the closest way the British could spell and pronounce Mukujjye. The ( মুখার্জি) 'Mukhaarji' that the Mukherjee's call themselves, is again an Indian-Bengali pronunciation of the word "Mukherjee" with a fully rounded "r".

Thus there are 4 versions of the same surname:
a. Mukhopadhyay (mukhopAdhyAya) - Sanskrit version
b. Mukkujye (mukkujjye) - Old Bengali/ Prakrit version of Mukhopadhyay
c. Mukherjee (mukajI) - Brit-Anglicized version of Mukhujye
d. Mukharjee (mUkhArjI) - Bengali pronunciation of Mukherjee

Origin of Mukhopadhyay Race
As per ancient genealogical and historical texts, sometime between 732 AD to 1078 AD, a King called Adisura (AdIshUra) invited 5 learned Brahmins (sAgnika paMchabrAhmaNa) from a place called Kolancha (kolAMcha), which some assume to be Kanauj in Uttar Pradesh (I do not think so).

Among these sAgnika paMchabrAhmaNas, one individual was Sriharsha (shrIharsha) of Bharadwaja Gotra (bharadvAja gotra) who was the first rADhi brAhmaNa in Bengal. His son Srigarbha (shrIgarbha) is the traditional head of the Mukhopadhyay clan.

You may refer to genealogical texts of harimishra, eDumishra, vAchaspati mishra (in Sanskrit) or to Bengali texts by Nagendranath Basu etc. or Dr Tanmoy Bhattacharya's excellent and meticulously researched treatise in English at

So this, in brief, is a summary of the history of the Mukhopadhyays.


  1. What about the surname Mukhoty? My paternal grandmother had this as a last name. I was told they were originally Mukherjees, but due the indiscretions of a forefather who fraternized (ie. socialized and ate meals together) with a non-Kulin brahmin, they were forced to adopt a corrupted form of the last name.

  2. Upadhyay are all brahmans and Mukhoty is more logical for Mukhopadhyay.No strings of lower upper status attached.