Goud Saraswat Brahmin

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Goud Saraswat Brahmin
Regions with significant populations
Primary populations in Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra[1]
Related ethnic groups
Saraswat Brahmins

Goud (also spelt as Gaud or Gawd) Saraswat Brahmins 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 as their mother tongue.

Parshurama with Saraswat Brahmin settlers commanding Varuna to make the seas recede to make the Konkan Region


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.[2] Sahyadrikhanda and Mangesh Mahatmya allude to migrations of Saraswat brahmins, constituting sixty-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.[3] 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.[4]

The GSB ancestors identified themselves as of the Saraswat section of the northern Gaud division, in contrast to their Maharashtra and Karnataka Brahman neighbors of the southern division. Those neighbors questioned the GSB’s competence to perform all six duties (shatkarma) reserved to brahmans. It was said that the GSB could study the vedas, but not teach them; give alms to brahmans, but not accept them; and have sacrifices performed, but not perform them. There is no substantial evidence to bear out these assertions. They seem mainly to have rested upon a general suspicion of outsiders, and perhaps the inclusion of fish in the GSB diet.[5] In spite of such vilification, Saraswats continued to prosper in Maharashtra.[6]

After settling down in Karnataka and Goa in about 800 CE Saraswats may have taken about a century to acquire patronage from the Shilaharas and the Kadambas of Goa.[7] 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 and North Konkan. The Saraswat Brahmins particularly served as village Kulkarnis, financiers, tax farmers, 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.[2]

Founding myths[edit]

The River Saraswati[edit]

The Saraswat Brahmins believe themselves to be named after the mythical Saraswati river, which was thought to arise in the Himalayas and flow through the present Punjab and Rajasthan region to the western sea near Dwaraka, in Gujarat. Saraswat brahmins are mentioned in the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhavishya Purana.[8]The Saraswati river of Rigvedic and Vedic texts has been historically identified with parts of watercourses near Lake Pushkar in Rajasthan, Sidhpur in Northern Gujarat and Somnath in Saurashtra, Gujarat. A popular belief identifies it with an underground flow at Prayag, Allahabad, emerging at the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna to form the Triveni Sangam. It has been suggested that around 1000 BCE the Yamuna breached and permanently drained the Sarwasati, the most important water course of the Swati Valley civilisation and early Vedic Civilisation; the desertification of their homeland would have compelled the Saraswati migration to the other parts of Bharat Khanda.According to the Sahyadrikhanda of the Skanda Purana, ninety-six Brahmin families belonging to ten gotras migrated to Goa from western India, along with Parashurama.[9][10] Linguistic evidence for such a migration of Saraswats to Konkan and Deccan is based on distribution of Indo-Aryan linguistic expansions, beginning before 500 BCE.[7]

Even if Parashurama is considered as a historical figure, the regionalisation of Brahmins had not taken place during his era and he had brought only Brahmins and not specifically Saraswat Brahmins.[7] According to 19th century Sanskrit scholar and physician, Dr. Bhau Daji and later by Buddhist scholar Dharmananda Damodar Kosambi, there is no connection between Parashurama and the migration of the Brahmins.[11][12] The Sahyadrikhaṇḍa is a later inclusion in the original Sanskrit Skanda Puraṇa, not a part of the original Sanskrit text.[13] The Parashurama legend serves as a symbol of the Sanskritisation that Goan culture experienced with the advent of Brahminical religion to the region.[14] This was achieved to a certain extent through the agency of the Saraswat Brahmins who had migrated to Goa and sought to establish their hegemony.[15]

Tradition and culture[edit]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lola Nayar (1 October 2012). "The Konkan Rail". Outlook India. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Konkana Mahatmya. Samant hari. pp. 21–34. 
  4. ^ D. Shyam Babu and Ravindra S. Khare, ed. (2011). Caste in Life: Experiencing Inequalities. Pearson Education India. p. 168. ISBN 9788131754399. 
  5. ^ Conlon, Frank F. A Caste in a Changing World: The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmans, 1700-1935. Univ of California Pr (June 1977). p. 16. ISBN 0520029984. 
  6. ^ "Dakshinatya Sarasvats- Tale of an Enterprising Community" (PDF). Nagesh D. Sonde. p. 40. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c Mitragotri, Vithal Raghavendra (1999). A socio-cultural history of Goa from the Bhojas to the Vijayanagara. Institute Menezes Braganza. pp. 50–54.  [1]
  8. ^ D. Shyam Babu and Ravindra S. Khare, ed. (2011). Caste in Life: Experiencing Inequalities. Pearson Education India. p. 168. ISBN 9788131754399. 
  9. ^ Shree Scanda Puran (Sayadri Khandha) -Ed. Dr. Jarson D. Kunha, Marathi version Ed. By Gajanan shastri Gaytonde, published by Shree Katyani Publication, Mumbai
  10. ^ Gomantak Prakruti ani Sanskruti Part-1, p. 206, B. D. Satoskar, Shubhada Publication
  11. ^ Kosambī, Dharmānanda. "Dakṣiṇī Sārasvatas". Vividajñāna vistāra (in Marathi). 2 (55): 14. 
  12. ^ Lāḍa, Dr Bhāū Dājī. Indian caste. JAS. p. 54. 
  13. ^ Shastri, (1995) Introduction to the Puranas, New Delhi: Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, pages 118–20
  14. ^ Kamat, Pratima (2008). Tarini and Tar-vir, the unique boat deities of Goa. Panjim: Goa Institute for Culture and Research in History(GOINCARH). p. 5. ISBN 978-81-906485-0-9. 
  15. ^ Purabhilekh-puratatva: Journal of the Directorate of Archives and Archaeology (Volume 2 ed.). Panaji, Goa: Goa, Daman and Diu (India). Directorate of Archives, Archaeology, and Museum. p. 10. 

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". 
  • Kawl, M. K. Kashmiri Pandits: Looking to the Future. 
  • 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. 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. (Subscription required (help)).