Banerjee (Bengali: ব্যানার্জি Bênarji) or Bandyopadhyay (Bengali: বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায় Bôndopaddhae) is a prevalent brahmin surname in the Bengal region of India. The name is also spelt Bannerjee, Banerji, Banerjie,Bonnerjee and Bandopadhyaya by different families.
Banerjees are Rarhi Kulin Brahmins of Sandilya gotra, who in the past were considered the highest caste in Bengal (along with Mukherjees, Chatterjees and Gangulis). They are descendents of the Bhattanarayana (originally from Uttar Pradesh) and members of the Sandilya gotra. During the Bengal renaissance and Young Bengal movement some of the people with Bandyopadhyay surname converted into Christianity and anglicized their name as Banerjee (or some into Bonnerjee). Others simply anglicized their name without converting. Recent genetic studies have shown that high percentage of Y-DNA haplogroup R1a1a is observed among these people which is very common in West Bengal Brahmins (72%).
"Indian (Bengal) and Bangladeshi: Hindu (Brahman) name, the first element of which, Ban-, is a shortened form of the village name Bandoghat. The final element -jee is derived from jha (greatly reduced form of Sanskrit upadhyaya ‘teacher’); thus, Banerjee ‘teacher from the village of Bandoghat’. In Bengali names formed with -jee, the initial element is believed to indicate a village granted by Ballal Sen, a legendary ancient king of Bengal, to the ancestor of the person bearing the surname. A Sanskrit version of this name, Vandyopadhyaya, was coined later, from the elements vandya ‘venerable’ + upadhyaya ‘teacher’. "
— Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4
Notable people with the surname Banerjee
Vidyasagar the Indian Bengali polymath (born Ishwar Chandra Bandopadhyaya)
- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni India
- Dibakar Banerjee, film director, India
- Kali Banerjee, actor, India
- Kanu Banerjee India
- Karuna Banerjee India
- Nikhil Banerjee India
- Rachana Banerjee, actor India
- Rina Banerjee US
- Ruprekha Banerjee India
- Sarnath Banerjee India
- Victor Banerjee, actor, India
- Jenni Banerjee, actress, Finland
- Bidisha Bandyopadhyay, writer/broadcaster UK
- Nina Banerjee-Louhija, Finnish writer, Finland