Gaud Saraswat Brahmin

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Gaud Saraswat Brahmin
Parshurama with Saraswat Brahmin settlers, commanding Varuna to make the seas recede in order to create the Konkan Region
Regions with significant populations
Primary populations in Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Kerala[1]
Konkani[2] (primarily)
Related ethnic groups
Saraswat Brahmins

Gaud Saraswat Brahmins (also Goud or Gawd, archaically as Shenvi) are a Hindu Brahmin community in India and a part of the larger Saraswat Brahmin community. They belong to the Pancha (five) Gauda Brahmana groups. They are popularly referred to by the acronym GSB. They primarily speak Konkani, including different dialects, as their mother tongue.[2]


There are many interpretations on how the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins received the name "Gaud" and the information about it is scant.

The debates in Rajapur during Shivaji's coronation had the local Brahmins claiming that they are Gowdas while the GSBs claimed that they were "Gauda Brahmins" ie. hailed from Trihut in Bengal. [3][4]

Authors Jose Patrocinio De Souza and Alfred D'Cruz interpretes that the word Gauda or Goud may have been taken from Ghaggar, with Goud and Saraswat having the same meaning, that is an individual residing on the banks of river Saraswati.[5] While these brahmins are only known as Saraswats in the vast region of Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal, the term Gaud Saraswat was applied to them by the natives after the former migrated to the South.[6] Author V. P. Chavan opines that they might have received the name Gaud Saraswat after they started following Gaudapada, a scholar of Advaita Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy.[6]

Historically they have been known as Shenvis and that is how they are referred to in all historical documents and British records. [7] The name GSB is a modern construction based on newly curated caste history and origin legends.


According to the Sahyadrikhanda of the Skanda Purana, ninety-six Saraswat Brahmin families belonging to ten gotras migrated to Goa from the Saraswati river basin, along with Parashurama.[8][9] Reference to Saraswat names are found in Shilaharas as well as Kadamba copper plate inscriptions. The inscriptions found in Goa bear testimony to the arrival of Brahmin families in the Konkan region.[10]

The Shilahara kings seem to have invited supposedly pure Aryan Brahmins and Kshatriyas from the Indo-Gangetic plain to settle in Konkan. These castes are the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins and Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus.[11][12]

Sahyadrikhanda and Mangesh Mahatmya allude to migrations of Saraswat Brahmins, constituting ninety-six families, who settled in eight villages of Goa. There were regional variations among the Saraswats, such as those among Bardeskars, Pednekars and Sastikars. The Konkana mahatmya, from the 17th century CE, deals with the internal rivalry of the Saraswats and strained relations between these groups.[citation needed]In Kalhana's Rajatarangini (12th century CE), the Saraswats are mentioned as one of the five Pancha Gauda Brahmin communities residing to the north of the Vindhyas.[13]

The GSB ancestors identified themselves as of the Saraswat section of the northern Gaud division, in contrast to their Maharashtra and Karnataka Brahman neighbours of the southern division. Many Saraswats left Goa after the invasion of Malik Kafur to the neighbouring regions and during the period of religious persecution of the Portuguese also Saraswats migrated to Uttar Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, Kerala and South Konkan. The Saraswat Brahmins particularly served as administrators, village revenue collectors (Kulkarnis), financiers, landlords, priests, teachers and merchants in the intra-Asian trade, and diplomats. Many sources of government income in Goa, Konkan and elsewhere, including taxes on commodities and customs duties, remained in their hands.[10]

Diet and culture[edit]


There is a misconception that most of the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins are fish eaters. Many are pure vegetarians instead, namely those who follow Madhvacharya,[14][15][16][17] while the smarthas include seafood as part of their diet.[18][19][20][21] Most of the GSB's in the Karnataka (mainly concentrated in Kanara), Kerala and Tamil Nadu regions are followers of Madhvacharya.[22][23] In Goa also there are many GSB's who follow Madhvacharya and are mainly concentrated in the Bardez and Salcete regions.[24][25][26][27]

Classification and culture[edit]

Gaud Saraswat Brahmins have both Madhvas and Smarthas among them. The Gaud Saraswats following Dvaita Vedanta of Madhvacharya are followers of Kashi Math and Gokarna Math, while the followers of Advaita Vedanta of Adi Shankara are followers of Kavale Math.[28][29][30] Among Gaud Saraswat Brahmins the Madhvas are Vaishnavites, while the Smarthas are considered as Shivites. According to author A B de Bragnanca Pereira says, "The main deities worshipped by Shaivite are Mangesh, Shantadurga and Saptakoteshwar, while the Vaishnavites deities are Nagesh, Ramnath, Mahalakshmi, Mhalsa, Lakshmi, Narasingha, Kamaksha and Damodar".[31]

Notable people[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lola Nayar (1 October 2012). "The Konkan Rail". Outlook India. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b Richard Gabriel Fox (1970). Urban India: Society, Space, and Image: Papers Presented at a Symposium Held at Duke University. Duke University. p. 27.
    J. Rajathi (1976). Survey of Konkani in Kerala. Language Division, Office of the Registrar General. pp. 145–150.
    George, Anjana (9 October 2016). "Navarathri celebrations in Kerala: Kerala celebrates Navarathri in 9 diverse ways". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
    "GSB community concludes its celebration". The Times of India. 28 August 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  3. ^ Viśveśvara Bhaṭṭa (1960). Bendrey, V. Sitaram (ed.). Coronation of Shivaji the Great (Gagābhaṭṭakrlaḥ: Śrīśivarājabhiṣekaprayogaḥ): or, The procedure of the religious ceremony performed by Gagabhatta for the consecration of Shivaji Maharaj as a Sawraj's king. P. P. H. Bookstall. pp. 24–27.
  4. ^ Gajanan Bhaskar Mehendale (2012). Shivaji His Life and Times. Param Mitra Publications. p. 480. ISBN 978-9380875170.
  5. ^ Souza, Jose Patrocinio De; D'Cruz, Alfred (1973). Saligao: Focus on a Picturesque Goan Village. Jacob R. de Souza Adoni Printers and Publishers for the Mae de Deus Church (Saligao) Centenary Celebrations Committee. p. 31.
  6. ^ a b Chavan 1991, p. 20
  7. ^ Census of Bombay. 1864. p. I.
  8. ^ Shree Scanda Puran (Sayadri Khandha) -Ed. Dr. Jarson D. Kunha, Marathi version Ed. By Gajanan shastri Gaytonde, published by Shree Katyani Publication, Mumbai
  9. ^ Gomantak Prakruti ani Sanskruti Part-1, p. 206, B. D. Satoskar, Shubhada Publication
  10. ^ a b Pinto, Celsa (1994). Trade and Finance in Portuguese India: A Study of the Portuguese Country Trade, 1770–1840 (Volume 5 of Xavier Centre of Historical Research Porvorim: XCHR studies series ed.). Concept Publishing Company. pp. 53–56. ISBN 9788170225072.
  11. ^ Raj Pruthi, Rameshwari Devi (2004). Religions And Faiths In India. Mangal Deep Publications. p. 204. ISBN 8175941693. There was a craze in the southern and eastern countries for the importation of the supposed pure Aryan Brahmins and Kshatriyas from the indo-gangetic valley in the north. The silhara kings of Konkan also seem to have invited both brahmins and kshatriyas from the north for settling in the south about this time.They are the Gauda Sarasvata Brahmins and the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus of Konkan. The Gauda Sarasvata Brahmins and the Kayastha Prabhus are naturally often referred to as 'Aryas' which is corrupted to 'Aiyyas' in the inscriptions. The local Brahmins were referred to as 'Bhats', and the imported northerners as Aryas...
  12. ^ Narayan Keshav Behere (1946). The Background of Maratha Renaissance in the 17th Century: Historical Survey of the Social, Religious and Political Movements of the Marathas. p. 81.
  13. ^ D. Shyam Babu and Ravindra S. Khare, ed. (2011). Caste in Life: Experiencing Inequalities. Pearson Education India. p. 168. ISBN 9788131754399.
  14. ^ S. Anees Siraj (2012). Karnataka State: Udupi District. Government of Karnataka, Karnataka Gazetteer Department. p. 189.
  15. ^ The Illustrated Weekly of India, Volume 91, Part 2. Published for the proprietors, Bennett, Coleman & Company, Limited, at the Times of India Press. 1970. p. 63. The Saraswats are largely a vegetarian community, whose coconut- based cuisine is famed for its variety.
  16. ^ Maharashtra, Land and Its People. Gazetteers Department, Government of Maharashtra. 2009. p. 48.
  17. ^ "A Konkani touch!". Deccan Herald. 16 May 2018. Gowd Saraswat Brahmins are often tagged as fish-eating brahmins. However, a sizeable section of them are pure vegetarians.
  18. ^ Understanding Society: Readings in the Social Sciences. Macmillan International Higher Education. October 1970. p. 273. ISBN 9781349153923. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  19. ^ Kaw, M. K. (2001). Kashmiri Pandits: Looking to the Future. APH Publishing. ISBN 9788176482363. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  20. ^ "Gowd Saraswat Cuisine, Where Fish Dishes Hold a Special Place". NDTV Food. 16 June 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Forward castes must think forward as well". Hindustan Times. 23 November 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  22. ^ J. Rajathi (1976). Survey of Konkani in Kerala. Language Division, Office of the Registrar General. p. 6. Culture:The GSBs are Vaishnavites and are followers of Madhvacharya.
  23. ^ S. Anees Siraj (2012). Karnataka State: Udupi District. Government of Karnataka, Karnataka Gazetteer Department. p. 189.
    Karnataka State Gazetteer: Shimoga. Karnataka (India), Director of Print, Stationery and Publications at the Government Press. 1973. p. 110.
    Karnataka State Gazetteer: South Kanara. Director of Print., Stationery and Publications at the Government Press. 1973. p. 111. The Gauda Saraswats are the Madhva Vaishnavite Saraswat Brahmins, while the Saraswats have continued to be Smarthas.
    The Illustrated Weekly of India, Volume 93. Bennett, Coleman & Company, Limited, at the Times of India Press. 1972. p. 18-22. Page 22:Next comes the old Mysore areas, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, parts of Maharashtra proper, Tulunad (South Kanara) and U.P. barring the Karnatak area and Tamil Nadu , the largest community of Madhvas is to be found among the Gaud Saraswats.
  24. ^ Chavan 1991, p. 2122.
  25. ^ Vithal Raghavendra Mitragotri (1999). A Socio-cultural History of Goa from the Bhojas to the Vijayanagara. Institute Menezes Braganza. p. 108. Prior to the 15th century there was no conflict between the followers of Vaishnavism and Shaivism in Goa . However after the spread of Dvaita philosophy in Goa the Saraswat community was divided into Vaishnavites (Madhvas) and Smartas (Shaivites).
  26. ^ The Illustrated Weekly of India, Volume 91, Part 2. Bennett, Coleman & Company, Limited, at the Times of India Press. 1970. p. 8. Later under the influence of Madhvacharya many of them became Vaishnavites.
  27. ^ Venkataraya Narayan Kudva (1972). History of the Dakshinatya Saraswats. Samyukta Gowda Saraswata Sabha. p. 154. The majority of the Saraswats, including those in Goa, are now Vaishnavas.
  28. ^ Chavan 1991, p. 22.
  29. ^ Singh 1995, p. 185.
  30. ^ Chavan 1991, p. 23.
  31. ^ Pereira 2008, p. 59.


Further reading[edit]

  • Suryanath U Kamath (1992). The origin and spread of Gauda Saraswats.
  • Venkataraya Narayan Kudva (1972). History of the Dakshinatya Saraswats. Samyukta Gauda Saraswata Sabha.
  • Ramachandra Shyama Nayak. "Saraswath Sudha". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Kawl, M. K. (2001). Kashmiri Pandits: Looking to the Future. ISBN 9788176482363.
  • Bryant, Edwin (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513777-9.
  • Hock, Hans (1999) "Through a Glass Darkly: Modern "Racial" Interpretations vs. Textual and General Prehistoric Evidence on Arya and Dasa/Dasyu in Vedic Indo-Aryan Society." in Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia, ed. Bronkhorst & Deshpande, Ann Arbor.
  • Shaffer, Jim G. (1995). "Cultural tradition and Palaeoethnicity in South Asian Archaeology". In George Erdosy (ed.). Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia. ISBN 3-11-014447-6.
  • Conlon, Frank F. (1974). "Caste by Association: The Gauda Sarasvata Brahmana Unification Movement". The Journal of Asian Studies. 33 (3): 351–365. doi:10.2307/2052936. JSTOR 2052936.