Gowda, also spelled as Gauda (Kannada: ಗೌಡ) is a titular surname widely used in the state of Karnataka in India. The word Gowda which traces its origin with Kannada, one of the Dravidian languages, refers to the administrative head of a typical Karnataka village. In practice, the title might pass through the generations as a hereditary Surname of the headmen's family. Typically, a Gowda in person commands huge clout, respect and landholding in the village and has been vested with the authority of decision making in the village by the virtue of his rights over Gowdike. Lingayats, Vokkaligas, Kurubas the dominant and politically conscious communities of Karnataka widely use the surname in practice. Gowda/Patel/Patil are the surname used by head of Village of any community. The popular variants of the surname include Gowder or Gauder (Usually in North Karnataka) and Gowdru (honorific, plural). Lingayats and Kurubas of North Karnataka also use a variant Nadagowda or Nadagauda, who is a head among the gowdas of the cluster of villages.No any caste with Gowda.
The etymology of Gauda is also heavily debated by scholars. The term and its archaic forms Gamunda, Gavunda, Gavuda (and hence Gauda), appear frequently in the inscriptions of Karnataka, recorded in the Epigraphia Carnatica. In fact the Epigraphia Carnatica is replete with such references to land grants, donations to temples, hero-stones (Veeragallu), stone edicts and copper plates dating back to the age of the Vijayanagara Emperor and earlier. Attributing a Sanskrit origin, H.V. Nanjundayya has derived the word from Grama or Gava meaning a village and Munda meaning head, thus a Gamunda being the head of the village.
Edgar Thurston, the British ethnologist, in his work Castes and Tribes of Southern India, and the popular Kannada linguist Shamba Joshi (Book : Halumatha Darshana) and others attribute the word to be of Sanskrit origin - go (cow) and govala (cowherd) (Govala->Goula->Gowda).
The following communities actively use and nurture the surname:
Some other communities, including the tribals, are also found using the surname. They include:
- K. V. Puttappa − Well known poet(Kuvempu),
- C. Byre Gowda, former agriculture minister
- Krishna Byre Gowda, Current Karnataka Agriculture Minister
- H. D. Devegowda − former Prime Minister of India, former Chief Minister of Karnataka
- Siddaramaiah - Chief Minister of Karnataka - (Son of Siddarame Gowda) Kuruba Gowda
- Girisha Nagarajegowda (born 1988), Indian paralympic silver medalist
- Junje Gowda − founder of male Mahadeswara temple[Kuruba Gowda]
- Ashoka - Great Emperor of India - Kuruba Gowda
- Chandragupta Maurya - Founder of Mauryan Empire - Kuruba Gowda
- Harihara I [Hakka] Bukka - Founders of Vijayanagara Dynasty - Kuruba Gowda
- Kempe Gowda I − The founder of Bangalore
- Kalidasa - Greatest poet of world - Kuruba Gowda
- H. N. Nage Gowda − Poet
- Narayana Gowda − the president of the pro- Kannada organization Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) based in Karnataka
- Shantaveri Gopala Gowda (14 March 1923 – 9 June 1972) was a socialist politician who was thrice elected to the legislature of Karnakata
- D. V. Sadananda Gowda, Indian politician who was the 20th Chief Minister of Karnataka
- Gowdar Mallikarjunappa Siddeswara – Member of Parliament, Davangere.
- Babagouda Patil – senior BJP Leader, former MP and Union Minister of India.
- Mallanagouda Basanagouda Patil – Minister for Water Resources, Government of Karnataka.
- Hanumanthagowda Krishnegowda Patil – Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Government of Karnataka.
- Shivanagowda Rudragowda Patil - Minister for Information Technology, Biotechnology, Science and Technology, Planning andStatistics, Government of Karnataka.
- Basavanagowda Channabasavanagowda Patil – famous Kannada actor and politician.
- V.L. Patil Vasanthrao Lakkangowda Patil- [Kuruba Gowda]-freedom fighter & former Revenue Minister, Social welfare Minister, Transport & Labour, Industry, Horticulture and Member of Parliament.
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