Before anyone flag this post as duplicate of why-gods-name-to-people let me clarify that this question is specific to name Shantanu and I am not asking why people name their kids with Hindu God's names hence I think it is not duplicate.

As many of us already know, it is very common that Many of Hindu people have their names starting from Hindu God's names.

And the reason to follow this practice is : the sin destroying effects the Lord's names.

But to the best of my knowledge, and most will agree with me, that the most famous Hindu character with the name Shantanu is in the epic Mahabharata, where Shantanu is best known for being the father of Bhishma (and not God or any incarnation of god).

His own identity is not that special when compared to his successors like his Son Bhishma or Arjuna later in his family.

Wikipedia does mention some good qualities of him, but that does not substantiate him to god-like status.

Also, Meaning of name Shantanu is: Whole (Does not sounds god-like name)

Now Still I found many people with name Shantanu in Hindu community and that also includes few famous personalities too.

What is so special Shantanu did(either in Mahabharata or any other incidence) which influenced Hindu community in general, to use his name for naming their own kids?

Or is there any other character with Name Shantanu who was god-like figure?

  • 2
    Another meaning of Shantanu is Sham Tanuh Yasmat Sah - one who causes good health. This is because Shantanu had the boon of healing with just his touch. So probably this meaning of Shantanu is the reason for the name.
    – Surya
    Mar 29, 2016 at 14:59
  • 1
    Also it is not necessary that a person's name has to be God's name. There are so many people with ordinary names.
    – Surya
    Mar 29, 2016 at 15:00
  • sure, the name need not has to be god's. but I was curious why his Shantanu is so common despite not being the name of the god! Mar 29, 2016 at 15:55
  • 1
    Well, as I said, it could be due to the positive meaning of the name.
    – Surya
    Mar 29, 2016 at 16:01
  • 1
    Interesting observation. Isn't it possible that MahAbhArata's ShAntanu might have been named after some then famous demi-God/sage. Probably after that it might have forgotten with time.
    – iammilind
    Mar 29, 2016 at 17:10

2 Answers 2


According to Devi Bhagavata, THE NINTH BOOK, Chapter VI, On the coming in this world of Laksmî, Gangâ and Sarasvatî , Shantanu was avatar of Lord Vishnu. This could be the reason for naming people after him.

Lord Vishnu had three wives, Ganga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. Saraswathi felt that Sri Hari was partial to Lakshmi and Ganga and cursed others to born as tree and rivers . Ganga inturn cursed Saraswathi to born as Rivers. Lord Vishnu placated them by saying that they would return His abode after purifying people of Booloka. He also said to Ganga that He would born as Shantanu and marry Ganga.

O Gange! You will also have to take incarnation in Bhârata as a river, purifying all the worlds, to destroy the sins of the inhabitants of Bhârata. Bhagiratha will take you there after much entreating and worshipping you; and you will be famous by the name Bhagirathî, the most sanctifying river in the world. There, the Ocean born of my parts, and the King S'ântanu also born of my parts will be your husbands. O Bharatî! Let you go also and incarnate in part in Bhârata under the curse of Gangâ. O Good-natured One! Now go in full Amsas to Brahmâ and become His wife. Let Gangâ go also in Her fullness to S'iva. Let Padmâ remain with Me. Padmâ is of a peaceful nature, void of anger, devoted to Me and of a Sâttvika nature.

  • Oops..And I used to always think in my own imagination that Shantanu means Father of Bheeshma. The thought of Shantanu himself named after Vishnu never crossed my mind! Aug 18, 2016 at 18:10

It is mentioned in Adi Parva of Mahabharat Shantanu's touch used to restore old people to youth.

"Those old men that were touched by this monarch not only felt an indescribable sensation of pleasure but also became restored to youth. Therefore, this monarch was called Santanu.

He had some great qualities mentioned in Adi Parva. He was a famous king known throughout the world and even Mahabharat states that there never really was a king like him.

The monarch Santanu, the most adored of the gods and royal sages, was known in all the worlds for his wisdom, virtues, and truthfulness (of speech). The qualities of self-control, liberality, forgiveness, intelligence, modesty, patience and superior energy ever dwelt in that bull among men, viz., Santanu, that great being endued with these accomplishments and conversant with both religion and profit, the monarch was at once the protector of the Bharata race and all human beings. His neck was marked with (three) lines, like a conch-shell; his shoulders were broad, and he resembled in prowess an infuriated elephant. It would seem that all the auspicious signs of royalty dwelt in his person, considering that to be their fittest abode. Men, seeing the behaviour of that monarch of great achievements came to know that virtue was ever superior to pleasure and profit. These were the attributes that dwelt in that great being--that bull among men--Santanu. And truly there was never a king like Santanu.

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