Sharma is a common surname in India and Nepal. The Sanskrit stem (nom. ) can mean 'joy', 'comfort', 'happiness'. An alternative English spelling of the name used in the city of Varanasi and the Indian states of Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Kerala is "Sarma". Some Assamese people also use Sarmah. According to Indian sociologist S. Devadas Pillai, "The suffix Sharma indicates that the chanter is a Brahman..."