Roman Catholic Kshatriya
The Roman Catholic Kshatriya is a caste among the Goan and Mangalorean Catholics, of modern-day descendants of Goan Kshatriya and Vaishya converts to Roman Catholicism. They are respectively known as Chardo in the Goan Catholic dialects of Konkani (Devanagari: चारड्डो) and Charodi (Kannada: ಚರೋಡಿ; Tsāroḍi), in the Mangalorean Catholic dialect of Konkani. They are an endogamous group and have traditionally avoided inter-marriage with Catholics of other castes.
The precise etymology of the word Chardo is unclear. The two most probable explanations are as follows:
- The roots of this Konkani word probably lies in the Prakrit word Chavada, which the name of a tribe of warriors who migrated to Goa from Saurashtra in the 7th and 8th centuries, after their kingdom was destroyed by the Arabs in 740 AD.
- Another explanation given by historian B.D. Satoskar is that the Konkani word comes from the Sanskrit word Chatur-rathi or the Prakrit Chau-radi, which literally means "the ones who ride a chariot yoked with four horses".
The Kshatriyas of Goa constituted the nobility and warrior class, and ranked second in the Hindu Varna system. Those involved in the trading profession were known as Chattim, which was an occupational appellation common to Brahmins as well. The origins of a Christian caste can be traced back to the Christianisation of the Velhas Conquistas (Portuguese: Old Conquests) that was undertaken by the Portuguese during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was during this period that the Jesuit, Franciscan and Dominican missionaries converted many Kshatriyas to Christianity. The caste appellation of Chardo eventually fell into disuse among the Hindu Kshatriyas, who began calling themselves Marathas (Konkan Marathas), to differentiate themselves from those Kshatriyas who had embraced Christianity. Another reason for the name change was because of the ascendancy of the Marathas in the political arena of the Maratha Confederacy. The Marathas and Vaishya Vanis who were among the last to convert, were incorporated into the Chardo caste.
The earliest known instance of Kshatriya conversions to Christianity took place in 1560, when 700 Kshatriyas were baptised en masse in Carambolim, Tiswadi. Their decision to embrace Christianity was made after deliberation of the village assembly, and came about as they were subjects of the Portuguese government. Another instance of a Kshatriya group seeking conversion to Christianity is mentioned in a letter of a Jesuit missionary Luís Fróis, dated 13 November 1560:
"Mass Baptisms in this village (Batim in Bardez) took place on 25 August 1560. The priests who had been sent to make preparations for the christening were asleep when at midnight of the 24th (August) more than 200 persons (men, women and children) knocked at their door and declared that they wished to become Christians. The women were very well dressed and wore plenty of gold. The men were also well dressed with feathers in their caps and guns on their shoulders. This group was led by one man named Camotim (Kamat). He wore scarlet satin pants, had a silver sword at his waist and a gun on his shoulder. All of them were baptised on the above-mentioned day. These people belonged to the Chardo class, consisting of warriors, men of a much better personality than the Brahmins."
The Charodis form the second largest group in the Mangalorean Catholic community. In South Canara, many Charodis took up service in the army of the Keladi Nayakas, and came to constitute the bulk of the Christian soldiers in their army. The Lewis-Naik family of Kallianpur near Udupi, produced many distinguished soldiers and officers in the Keladi army. In recognition of their service, the Nayakas rewarded them with large tracts of land in Kallianpur. During the Indian independence struggle, Chardos were perceived by Indian nationalists to be more sympathetic to Indian nationalist leanings and less likely to be pro-Portuguese loyalists than Bamonns. In his autobiography, Indian nationalist Eddie Pereira (himself of Chardo heritage) stated about the origins of the Chardos:
"If records are to be trusted, the Chardo Kshatriya lineage had its origin in the annals of the epic narratives of the Ramayana. Our ancestors derived their inspiration from the heroes of Raghuvamsha... We all call ourselves Chalukya Chardo Kshatriyas and so we belong to a warrior caste of the fourfold social order in ancient India... Shri Ramachandra, King of Ayodhya, is the hero of the Ramayana, one of the sacred epics of India. This Ayodhya of Ramchandra was the Chardo place of origin. Chardos are mainly found in Goa and the surrounding area out of Goa. Fallen as the Chardo Kshatriyas were from the high ideals of unity and freedom, they have in them the spirit of bravery of their indomitable ancestors. They never held their personal life dear, but welcomed even death in the later years of their struggle. Yet they had to migrate from place to place to keep their tradition, culture and the way of life intact."
The Chardos have traditionally been an endogamous group, and while they never inter-married or mingled with the low caste Sudirs (Konkani: Shudras), Mahars and Chamars, the statutes and norms of the Roman Catholic church restrained them from discriminating against the latter.
- Christianisation of Goa
- Christianity in Goa
- Christianity in Karnataka
- Cuncolim Revolt
- Caste system among Indian Christians
- Roman Catholicism in Goa
- Roman Catholicism in Mangalore
- Roman Catholic Brahmin
- Forward caste
- Konkani people
- Konkan Marathas
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