Definitions

Mukherjee

Mukherjee

Mukherjee (মুখার্জি Mukharji) or Mukerji is a Bengali surname, common among residents of the Indian state of West Bengal. According to the Hindu Indian caste system, Mukherjees belong to the Kulin Brahmin group and along with Chatterjee, Banerjee, and Ganguly, constitute the top rung of the Bengali Brahmin caste.

Origins

All Mukherjees belong to the Bharadwaj Gotra or the clan of Rishi Bharadwaj. The Mukherjees belong to the Kulin Brahmin class and are also classified as Radh Brahmins. The origins of most Brahmins in Southern Bengal was the Gangetic plains of Northern India, chiefly Kanauj (modern day Allahabad). The Mukherjees, along with Banerjees, Chatterjees and Gangulys moved on to settle on the western banks of the Bhagirathi river (a Ganges distributary also known as Hooghly) in Southern Bengal during the reign of the Sena Dynasty of Bengal. This region is known as Radh or Radh Bhoomi, leading to these clans of Brahmins being categorized as Radh Brahmins.

Etymology

While Mukherjee is a somewhat anglicized version of an original form that is uncertain, it has not evolved directly from the sanskrit Mukhopadhyay (মুখোপাধ্যায় Mukhopaddhae). Mukhopadhyay, is a Sanskritization of the same original surname and was possibly degraded from the purer Sanskrit form Mukhyopadhyay (in Sanskrit Mukhya - chief, Upadhyay - priest). Mukherjee is also spelled as "Mukerji", "Mukherji", "Mookerjee", "Mukerjee", "Mukherjea" and "Mookherjee" by different families.

Families with surnames Mukhati or Mukhuti are believed to be of the same origins as Mukherjees and it is possible that these surnames represent the older forms of the Mukherjee surname. According to a rather questionable alternative hypothesis in common belief, Mukhati or Mukhuti came to be the surname of some Mukherjees who took to the fields and worked with the langol (plough) akin to the Babhans in neighbouring Bihar.

There are several hypotheses on the origin of the jee in Mukherjee (and in the related Chatterjee and Banerjee surnames). The widely held belief is that it originates from Jha or Ojha, a common Brahmin surname in the Gangetic Plains of Northern India (modern day Uttar Pradesh and Bihar), possibly a throw back to their common past.

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