|Languages||Primary mother tongue is Chitpavani (a dialect of Konkani) and Konkani but also have proficiency in native languages,|
|Populated states||Konkan (Coastal Maharashtra, Goa and coastal Karnataka); some parts of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat|
The Chitpavan Brahmin or Kokanastha Brahmin (i.e., "Brahmins native to the Konkan") is a Hindu Maharashtrian Brahmin community inhabiting Konkan, the coastal region of the state of Maharashtra in India. The community came into prominence during the 18th century when the heirs of Peshwa from the Bhat family of Balaji Vishwanath became the de facto rulers of the Maratha empire. Under the British Raj, they were the one of the Hindu communities in Maharashtra to flock to western education and they provided the bulk of social reformers, educationalists and nationalists of the late 19th century. Until the 18th century, the Chitpavans were held in low esteem by the Deshastha, the older established Brahmin community of Maharashtra region.
The upper castes, that is, Marathi Brahmins, Saraswat Brahmins and Prabhus (CKPs and Pathare Prabhus) were only about 4% of the population in Maharashtra. A majority of this 4% were Brahmins. As per the 1901 census, about 5% of the Pune population was Brahmin and about 27% of them were Chitpawans.
- 1 Origin
- 2 History
- 3 Military
- 4 Culture
- 5 Notable people
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
The Chitpavan are also known as Konkanastha Brahmin. They have two common mythological stories of origin, of which the more contemporary story is based on the etymology of their name, meaning "pure of mind", while an older belief uses the alternate etymological meaning : "pure from the pyre" and is based on the tale of Parashurama in the Sahyadrikhanda of the Skanda Purana.
The Parashurama mythological story of shipwrecked people is similar to the mythological story of the Bene Israel Jews of Raigad district. The Bene Israel claim that Chitpavans are also of Jewish origin.
The Konkan region witnessed the immigration of groups, such as the Bene Israel, and Kudaldeshkars. Each of these settled in distinct parts of the region and there was little mingling between them. The Chitpavans were apparently the last major community to arrive there and consequently the area in which they settled, around Ratnagiri, was the least fertile and had few good ports for trading. While the other groups generally took up trade as their primary occupation, the Chitpavans with the rise of the Peshwa in the 18th century became known as military men, diplomats and administrators.
Rise and fall during the Maratha rule
Very little is known of the Chitpavans before 1707 A.D. Around this time, Balaji Vishwanth Bhat, a Chitpavan arrived from Ratnagiri to the Pune-Satara area. He was brought there on the basis of his reputation of being an efficient administrator. He quickly gained the attention of Chhatrapati Shahu. Balaji's work so pleased the Chhatrapati that he was appointed the Peshwa or Prime Minister in 1713. He ran a well-organized administration and, by the time of his death in 1720, he had laid the groundwork for the expansion of the Maratha Empire. Since this time until the fall of the Maratha Empire, the seat of the Peshwa would be held by the members of the Bhat family.
With the ascension of Balaji Baji Rao and his family to the supreme authority of the Maratha Empire, Chitpavan immigrants began arriving en masse from the Konkan to Pune where the Peshwa offered all important offices to his fellow castemen. The Chitpavan kin were rewarded with tax relief and grants of land. Historians cite nepotism and corruption as causes of the fall of the Maratha Empire in 1818. Richard Maxwell Eaton states that this rise of the Chitpavans is a classic example of social rank rising with political fortune.
Treatment of untouchables under Peshwa rule
The Peshwa rule forced untouchability treatment on the Mahars and other communities such as Mang. Specifically, they had to walk with a broom tied to their loincloth to wipe off their foot prints and an earthenware pot tied to their neck so their spit could not fall on the ground thereby polluting the road for upper castes. They were not allowed to move in public places in the mornings or evenings as their long shadows could defile caste Hindus. They were not allowed to read and write.
Essay by Mukta Salve on atrocities
A 15 year old female student of Jyotiba Phule called Mukta Salve from the Mang community, another untouchable caste, wrote in an essay in 1855 that during Peshwa rule untouchables were often murdered using oil containing toxic red lead and then buried in the foundations of mansions of upper castes.She further wrote that Passing the Talimkhana (local gymnasium) by a Mahar or Mang often resulted in the person's head being cut off and played with. Those resisting any sanctions could be trampled under an elephant on the grounds of the Peshwa's palace.
Battle of Koregaon
Many Mahars enlisted in the armies of the British East India Company and served the British in their war against the Peshwas. On 1 January 1818 in the Battle of Koregaon between forces of the East India Company and the Peshwa, Mahars soldiers formed the biggest contingent of the Company force. The British won the battle and this effectively ended Peshwa rule.
Role in Indian politics
After the fall of the Maratha Empire in 1818, the Chitpavans lost their political dominance to the British. The British would not subsidize the Chitpavans on the same scale that their caste-fellow, the Peshwas, had done in the past. Pay and power was now significantly reduced. Poorer Chitpavan students adapted and started learning English because of better opportunities in the British administration.
Some of the prominent figures in the Hindu reform movements of the 19th and 20th centuries came from the Chitpavan Brahmin community. These included Dhondo Keshav Karve, Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, Vinoba Bhave.
Some of the strongest resistance to change came from the very same community. The vanguard and the old guard clashed many times. D. K. Karve was ostracised. Even Tilak offered penance for breaking caste or religious rules. One was for taking tea at Poona Christian mission in 1892 and the second was going to England in 1919.
The Chitpavan community includes two major politicians in the Gandhian tradition: Gopal Krishna Gokhale, whom Gandhi acknowledged as a preceptor, and Vinoba Bhave, one of his outstanding disciples. Gandhi describes Bhave as the "jewel of his disciples", and recognised Gokhale as his political guru. However, strong opposition to Gandhi came from the Chitpavan community. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the founder of the Hindu nationalist political ideology Hindutva, was a Chitpavan Brahmin and several other Chitpavans were among the first to embrace it because they thought it was a logical extension of the legacy of the Peshwas and caste-fellow Tilak. These Chitpavans felt out of place with the Indian social reform movement of Phule and the mass politics of Gandhi. Large numbers of the community looked to Savarkar, the Hindu Mahasabha and finally the RSS. , drew their inspiration from fringe groups in this reactionary trend.[full citation needed]
Anti-Brahmin violence in the 20th century after Gandhi's assassination
After Gandhi's assassination by Nathuram Godse, a Chitpawan, Brahmins in Maharashtra, became targets of violence, mostly by members from the Maratha caste. The motivating factor for the violence was not love for Gandhi on the part of the rioters but the denigration and humiliation that the Marathas were subjected to due to their caste status.
In the Patwardhan princely states such as Sangli, the Marathas were joined by the Jains and the Lingayats in the attacks against the Brahmins. Here, specifically, advanced factories owned by the Chitpawans were destroyed. This event led to the hasty integration of the Patwardhan states into the Bombay Province by March 1948 - a move that was opposed by other Brahmins as they feared the Maratha predominance in the integrated province. During early 20th century, the ruler of Kolhapur state, Shahu had collaborated with the British against the Indian freedom struggle - a struggle that was identified with Chitpavans like Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was also instrumental in shaping anti-brahmin attitude in the non-brahmin communities during that period. This led to great violence against Brahmins in Kolhapur.
The Chitpavans have considered themselves to be both warriors and priests. Their involvement in military affairs began with the rise of the Peshwas and their willingness to enter military and other services earned them high status and power in the Deccan.
Traditionally, the Chitpavan Brahmins were a community of astrologers and priests who offer religious services to other communities. The 20th century descriptions of the Chitpavans list inordinate frugality, impassive, hard work, cleanliness and intelligence among their attributes. In their original home of Konkan, their primary occupation was farming and some earned money by performing rituals among their own caste members. During the heydays of the Maratha Empire, the city of Pune became the financial metropolis of the empire with 150 big and petty moneylenders. Most of these were Chitpavan or Deshastha Brahmins. Later, Chitpavans became prominent in white-collar jobs and business.
Most of the Chitpavan Brahmins in Maharashtra have adopted Marathi as their language. A minority spoke a dialect of Konkani called Chitpavani Konkani in their homes. Even at that time,[when?] reports recorded Chitpavani as a fast-disappearing language. But in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka, it is spoken in places like Durga and Maala of Karkala taluk and Shishila and Mundaje of Belthangady Taluk.
The Marathi spoken by Chitpavans in Pune is the standard form of language used all over Maharashtra today. This form has many words derived from Sansrkrit and retains the Sanskrit pronunciation of many, misconstrued by non-standard speakers as "nasalised pronunciation".
Earlier, the Deshastha Brahmins believed that they were the highest of all Brahmins and looked down upon the Chitpavans as parvenus (a relative newcomer to a socio-economic class), barely equal to the noblest of dvijas. Even the Peshwa was denied the rights to use the ghats reserved for Deshastha priests at Nashik on the Godavari river.[full citation needed]
The rise in prominence of the Chitpavans compared to the Deshastha Brahmins resulted in intense rivalry between the two communities. 19th century records also mention Gramanyas or village-level debates between the Chitpavans and Daivajnas, Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus and the Chitpawans, Saraswat Brahmins and the Chitpavans, Pathare Prabhus and the Chitpavans and Shukla Yujurvedi Deshastha Brahmins and the Chitpavans. These were quite common in Maharashtra.
- Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath and his descendants, Bajirao I, Chimaji Appa, Balaji Bajirao, Raghunathrao, Sadashivrao Bhau, Madhavrao I, Narayanrao, Madhavrao II, and Bajirao II
- Nana Phadnavis (1742 - 1800), regent to Madhavrao II
- The Patwardhans - military leaders under the Peshwa and later rulers of various princely states
- Balaji Pant Natu - spied for the British against the Peshwa era Maratha Empire and raised the Union Jack over Shaniwar Wada.
- Lokhitwadi (Gopal Hari Deshmukh) (1823-1892)- social reformer
- Nana Sahib (1824 – 1859) - adopted heir of the deposed Peshwa Bajirao II and one of the main leaders of the Indian Rebellion of 1857
- Mahadev Govind Ranade (1842–1901) - judge and social reformer
- Vishnushastri Krushnashastri Chiplunkar (1850 – 1882) - essayist, editor of Nibandha Mala, a Marathi journal, educator, mentor to Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, founder of the Chitrashala press
- Vasudev Balwant Phadke (1845 – 1883) - a petty government clerk in Pune who led an armed rebellion against the British. Later an Educator.
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856 – 1920) -Educator, Writer and Early Nationalist Leader with widespread appeal.Described by British colonial administration as the "Father of Indian Unrest"
- Gopal Ganesh Agarkar (1856 – June 1895). journalist, educator and social reformer
- Keshavsut (Krishnaji Keshav Damle) (March 15, 1866 - November 7, 1905) -Marathi language poet
- Dhondo Keshav Karve(1858 – 1962) - Social reformer and advocate of women's education
- Anandibai Joshi (1865 – 1887) - First Indian woman to get a medical degree from a university in the west - Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania - in 1886
- Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866 – 1915) - Early Nationalist leader on the moderate wing of the Congress party
- Chapekar brothers (1873-1899),(1879-1899) - Brothers who assassinated British plague commissioner Walter Rand for his heavy handed approach to plague relief in Pune in 1897
- G.N.Sahasrabudhe, a social reformer, who, along with two other reformers- Chairman Surendranath Tipnis of the Mahad Municipality and A.V.Chitre, helped Ambedkar during the Mahad Satyagraha.
- Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar (1872 – 1947) - Writer, Journalist, Nationalist leader. Served on the Viceroy's Executive Council (1924–29).
- Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, -(28 May 1883 – 26 February 1966)Freedom fighter, social reformer and Formulator of the Hindutva philosophy
- Senapati Bapat (12 November 1880 - 28 November 1967) - Prominent Indian freedom fighter who acquired title of Senapati meaning Commander.
- Dadasaheb Phalke- (30 April 1870 – 16 February 1944) Pioneer of Indian film industry
- Krushnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar-(25 November 1872 – 26 August 1948) Editor of Kesari and Navakal[full citation needed]
- Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande (1860 – 1936) - eminent maestro of Hindustani classical music
- Vishwanath Kashinath Rajwade (1863–1926) - Historian
- Anant Laxman Kanhere (1891-1910) - Indian nationalist and revolutionary, hanged for the murder of British Collector of Nashik, A. M. T. Jackson in 1910[a]
- Vinoba Bhave-(1895 – 1982), Gandhian leader and freedom fighter
- Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre (1896 – 1981) - Poet and writer in Kannada language. Winner of the Jnanpith Award
- Narhar Vishnu Gadgil-(10 January 1896 – 12 January 1966) Congress leader and Member of Nehru's cabinet
- Irawati Karve - (1905 – 1970), anthropologist
- Nathuram Godse- (19 May 1910 – 15 November 1949) Mahatma Gandhi's assassin
- Narayan Apte (1911 - 1949) - co-conspirator in the assassination of Gandhi.
- Gopal Godse (1919 – 2005) - co-conspirator in the assassination of Gandhi and Nathuram Godse's younger brother.
- Pandurang Shastri Athavale (1920 - 2003) was an Indian activist philosopher, spiritual leader, social revolutionary and religion reformist, who founded the Swadhyaya Parivar (Swadhyaya Family) in 1954 
- Madhuri Dixit (born 1967) - Bollywood actress
- Kashinath Ghanekar:(Marathi Actor) First superstar on Marathi Stage.
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While Brahmins are found in all the districts of the state, the Saraswats and Prabhus,the two other literate castes of this category,are in significant number only in Mumbai city
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The other intellectual class, the Prabhus were once again subdivided in the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu and the Pathare Prabhus
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...They[untouchables] were forbidden to move in public spaces in the mornings and evenings lest their long shadows define high caste people on the streets. Besides physical mobility, occupational and social mobility was also denied to these people who formed a major part of the population. Human Sacrifices of 'untouchable' people were not uncommon under these eighteenth century rulers who had framed elaborate rules and mechanisms to ensure that the untouchables stayed just as their name suggests-untouchable. In 1855, Mukta Salave...
- Sangharakshita(Dennis Philip Edward Lingwood) (January 1, 2006). Ambedkar and Buddhism. p. 43.
...and the Mahars themselves were forced to go about with a broom tied to the end of their loincloth and an earthenware pot hanging from their neck. The broom was for covering up their footprints and the pot for spitting in, so that the feet of caste hindus using the same road might not come into contact with anything polluting. Those Mahars who dared to rebel against the restrictions imposed on them, or even raise their voice in protest were liable to be trampled to death by elephants in the courtyard of the Peshwa's palace. Mahars could also be buried alive ...
- Banerjee, Shoumojit. "When Mahars fought on home turf, and helped Britain win". The Hindu. The Hindu. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
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(pg 13,14)Destruction was even larger in Kolhapur...(pg14)Shahu Maharaj had actively collaborated with the British against the freedom movement, which was locally identified with Chitpawan Brahmins like B.G.Tilak...(pg14) The biggest violence took place in the seven Patwardhan (Chitpawan) princely states such as Sangli, where the remarkably advanced factories owned by Chitpawans were largely destroyed. Here, Jains and Lingayats joined the Marathas in the attacks. The events hastened the integration of Patwardhan states (by march 1948) into the Bombay province, an integration opposed by the Brahmins - fearing Maratha predominance in the integrated province.
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The occupation of the Chitpavans in their original territory of the Konkan was farming, with some income from performing rituals among their own caste.
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- Gokhale, Sandhya (2008). The Chitpwans. Shubhi Publications. p. 204.
The jati disputes were not a rare occurrence in Maharashtra. There are recorded instances of disputes between jatis such as Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus and the Chitpawans, Pathare Prabhus and the Chitpawans, Saraswat brahmin and the Chitpawans and Shukla Yajurvedi and the Chitpawans. The intra-caste dispute involving the supposed violation of the Brahmanical ritual code of behavior was called Gramanya in marathi.
- India's Communities, Volume 5. Oxford University Press. 1998. p. 1804,2079.
(quote on page 1804):The Chitpavan are vegetarian and rice is their staple cereal. (quote on page 2079): Among them the Chitpavan, Desastha, Karhade and Devdny Brahman are pure vegetarian though nowadays, they occasionally take non-vegetarian food.
- "Madhuri Dixit is Mad(s) about food".
Cooking mantra Chicken tikka masala, says Dixit is her speciality, as is kande pohe.
- Chaurasia, R.S. (2004). History of the Marathas. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 9. ISBN 9788126903948.
- The Marathas 1600-1818, Part 2, Volume 4 By Stewart Gordon
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- Bal Ram Nanda (1977). Gokhale: The Indian Moderates and the British Raj. Princeton University Press. p. 17.
His[Deshmukh's] family of Chitpawan Brahmans, one of the greatest beneficiaries of the Peshwa regime...
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The true nature of these groups, said fearful Bombay officials, had been revealed in 1879 in the response of the region's politically active intelligentsia to the actions of W.B.Phadke, a chitpawan ex-government clerk from Pune.
- Pinney, Christopher (2004). Photos of the gods : the printed image and political struggle in India. London: Reaktion. pp. 46–47. ISBN 978-1861891846.
a petty government clerk in Poona, Vasudev Balvant Phadke, led an uprising that would anticipate the revolutionary terrorism that would come to mark India in the first half of the twentieth century. Like B.G. Tilak, Phadke was a Chitpawan brahman...
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By the early 1880s, Indian women started to benefit from the opening of medical studies to women in Europe and the United States, the first being Anandibai Joshi (1865–1887), born in Pune to a Chitpavan Brahmin family. She was married (according to custom) when she was nine years old. In 1883, at age eighteen, she went to the United States (with her husband)and studied medicine at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where she graduated in medicine in 1886
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- Shailaja Paik. Dalit Women's Education in Modern India: Double Discrimination.
- Omvedt, Gail. Dalits and the Democratic Revolution: Dr Ambedkar and the Dalit Movement in Colonial India. p. 138.
- SRI NARASIMHA CHINTAMAN "ALIAS" TATYASAHEB KELKAR, K. N. Watve, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol. 28, No. 1/2 (January–April 1947), pp. 156-158, published by Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 
- Wolf, Siegfried (Editor) (2009). Heidelberg Student papers, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar:: Public Enemy or national Hero (PDF). Dresden: Heidelberg University. p. 10. ISBN 978-3-86801-076-3.
- Y. D. Phadke (1981). Portrait of a revolutionary: Senapati Bapat. Senapati Bapat Centenary Celebration Samiti. p. 2.
Among such young men initiated into revolutionary activities was Pandurang Mahadeo Bapat who later on became widely known as Senapati (General) Bapat. On 12 November 1880, Pandurang Bapat was born in a Chitpawan or Konkanastha Brahmin family at Parner in the Ahmednagar
- Jain, Kajri (2007). Gods in the Bazaar: The Economies of Indian Calendar Art. Duke University Press Books. p. 151.
- Jeffrey, R., 1997. Marathi: Big Newspapers Are Elephants. Economic and Political Weekly, pp.384-38
- Subramanian, L., 2000. The master, muse and the nation: The new cultural project and the reification of colonial modernity in India∗. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 23(2), pp.1-32.
- Kulkarni, A.R., 2002. Trends in Maratha Historiography: Vishwanath Kashinath Rajwade (1863–1926). Indian Historical Review, 29(1-2), pp.115-144.
- "Organiser, Volumes 35-36". Bharat Prakashan. 1983.
THE NASIK ASSASSINATION - By : Mrs. Sunanda Swarup ...Anant Kanhere, who actually killed Jackson, was a sixteen-year-old chitpavan Brahman youth...The whole episode will not be complete without mentioning about Jackson, who was assassinated. Ironically enough the records show that he was a popular Collector and liked by many. He was a Scholar of Sanskrit and was even known as Pandit Jackson. He was very fond of the theatre, dramas...Even On the eve of assassination, he had gone to watch the play “Sharada” which was organised in his honour
- Bimanbehari Majumdar (1966). Militant Nationalism in India and Its Socio-religious Background, 1897-1917. p. 94.
On December 21, A. M. T. Jackson was murdered at Nasik by Anant Laxman Kanhere. Jackson was a learned Indologist. He contributed many interesting papers on Indian history and culture and was popularly known as Pandit Jackson. His fault was that he had committed Ganesh Savarkar to trial and acquitted an Engineer named Williams of the charge of killing a farmer by rash and negligent driving. He was not harsh in punishing people charged with sedition. W. S. Khare, a pleader of Nasik delivered some seditious speeches. Jackson ordered him to execute a personal bond of Rs. 2,000 and to be of good behaviour for one year with two substantial and respectable sureties of Rs. 1,000 each.
- Pramod Maruti Mande (2005). Sacred offerings into the flames of freedom. Vande Mataram Foundation. p. 27.
At that time an Englishman named Jackson was the Collector of Nashik District. A cruel man by nature, he greatly harassed the people. He used to hold public assemblies to hear the people's grievances, but this was just a show, meant to put a gloss on his despotic administration. There was no justice for the people. Rather,they were subject to great tyranny.
- Maloni, edited by Mariam Dossal, Ruby (1999). State intervention and popular response : western India in the nineteenth century. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. p. 87. ISBN 9788171548552.
- Amur, G.S. (1994). Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre (Ambikatanayadatta). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 7. ISBN 9788172015152.
- Maloni, edited by Mariam Dossal, Ruby (1999). State intervention and popular response : western India in the nineteenth century. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan. p. 79. ISBN 9788171548552.
- Alex Damm, ed. (2017). Gandhi in a Canadian Context: Relationships between Mahatma Gandhi and Canada. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 54.
Moreover, the two principal conspirators behind Gandhi's assassination, who were hung for their actions – Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte – were both Chitpawan Brahmins from Maharashtra as was Savarkar, their ideological mentor. The Chitpawans had a long history of supporting violence against the alleged enemies of Brahminical Hinduism.
- Thomas Blom Hansen (1999). The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India. Princeton University Press.
Gandhi's assassin Naturam Godse, a Chitpavan brahmin from Pune, had been a member of the RSS for some years, as well as a member of the Hindu Mahasabha. In the early 1940s Godse left the RSS to form a militant organization, Hindu Rashtra Dal, aimed at militarizing the mind and conduct of Hindus, to make them “more assertive and aggressive” (interview with Naturam Godse's brother Gopal Godse, still a member of the Hindu Mahasabha, in Pune, 3 February 1993)
- Nadkarni, M.V., 2009. Social change through moral development?. Journal of Social and Economic Development, 11(2), pp.127-135.
- "Shah Rukh is not a good dancer but has charisma: Madhuri". Times of India.
Also, we both come from similar backgrounds and are Kokanastha brahmins and have had typical Maharashtrian upbringing that makes us culturally similar.
- Deepak Gore. Origins of Chitpavan Brahmins (PDF).
- S. M. Edwardes (2009-07-31). "Chapter XIV - A Konkan Legend". By Ways of Bombay. ISBN 978-1-4068-5154-0. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
- Ravinder Kumar (1968). Western India in the Nineteenth Century. Routledge & Kegan Paul.
- Chitpavans under the British Raj-Singh, R.; Lele, J.K. (1989). Language and society : steps towards an integrated theory. Leiden: E.J. Brill. pp. 32–42. ISBN 9789004087897.
- O'Hanlon, Rosalind (2002), Caste, Conflict and Ideology: Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Low Caste Protest in Nineteenth-Century Western India, Cambridge South Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-52308-0
- Naravane, M.S (2006), Battles of the honourable East India Company: making of the Raj, APH Publishing, pp. 78–105, ISBN 978-81-313-0034-3