Karhade Brahmin

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For other uses, see Bhandari (disambiguation).
Karhade (Karada)
Regions with significant populations

Primary populations in: Maharashtra - primarily Tal - Konkan, Goa, Karnataka - primarily coastal Karnataka, Mangaluru, Udupi and interior Shivamogga up to Belagavi, Madhya Pradesh - erstwhile Maratha dominions like Gwalior, Indore, Uttar Pradesh - Jhansi, Kanpur, Bundelkhand,Kasargodu region of Kerala.

Populations in:


Marathi in Maharashtra, Kannada in Karnataka and parts of Kerala, Konkani in Goa, Karhadi i.e. marathi dialect in some parts of Kerala, Bhati Bhasha in Goa and Malayalam in some pockets of Kerala.

English used for professional purposes, Sanskrit used for religious purposes
Related ethnic groups

Deshastha Brahmins
Konkanastha Brahmins

Nagar & Bhojaka of Gujarat.

Karhade (also written as Karada[citation needed]) Brahmins (Marathi: कर्‍हाडे/कराडे) are a predominantly Pancha Dravida Brahmin sub-group, who speak Marathi and to a lesser extent Kannada, Malayalam In isolated pockets in Northern Kerala and Southern Konkan a few Karhada families still speak the old Karhadi dialect of Marathi which although lexically similar to its parent languages is heavily influenced by Dravidian languages such as Tulu, Kannada and Malayalam.[citation needed]

Etymology and Origin[edit]

The exact theory about the origins of the origins are varied, some of the most common ones which have been documented are as follows;

- Professor D. R. Bhandarkar concludes that the Karhade must have had at least some partial extraction from the Gurjar (Saka) clans. This however may only apply to the Gurjar / Padhye sub-group of Karhade, who were settled in the Rajapur. Copper plate grants have been found showing some Gurjar origins of some families, especially those with the Kashyapa and Naidhruva gotra.[citation needed]

- there is evidence that during the Chalukya sovereignty over the Deccan during the 10th and 11th centuries, settled Brahmins in the Konkan and Goa regions. The exact origin of these Brahmins is unclear, however at least in one copper-plate grant (found with the Phansalkar Khot family of Terwan) by a Chalukya king to a group of 19 Brahmins settled near Rajapur, there is mention that these Brahmins, as one of their sacerdotal activities would be responsible for creating and maintaining orchards - called Karhataks, in the region surrounding the Vimaleshwar temple. The purpose of these Karhataks, being sustenance of the temple and its occupants, and also growing the flora required for yajna and homa rituals. Similar copper plate grants have been found with other Karada families in southern Konkan. The Bombay gazette complied by the British contains transcripts of many such copper plates, which are now available for public research.[citation needed]

- it is characteristic of Karhada habitats in Rajapur, Goa and Kasaragodu, to have Durga temples on four corners of their domain, the domain traditionally contained well engineered orchards (Karhataks) also called Kulagar in Goa. Even today many Karhada are actively involved in horticulture.[citation needed] priesthood and temple related activities.

- a much more popular and simplistic theory (however unfounded) relates the origin of this tribe to the modern day town of Karad which is on the banks of the upper Krishna river on the Deccan plateau. However, if this theory is accepted, it becomes difficult to explain when, why and how they migrated to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Goa & Karnataka - The 'Sahyadri Khanda' in a rather demeaning way to Karhade and Chitpavan Brahmins, indicate that the Karhade were resurrected from the bones of a camel.[citation needed]

Traditionally the Karada Brahmins in close association with the Rajapur Gaud Saraswat and Naik Maratha communities, were involved in horticultural activities and were pioneers in ground water cultivation and irrigation techniques. Like the Havyaka of Karnataka, the Karade have been involved in Betelnut cultivation and other horticultural activities surrounding the temples. These orchards originally called Karhatak, can still be found in the Konkan and are called Kulagar in Goa.[citation needed]

Most modern Karhade share the gotra with other Brahmins of the sub-continent. It is not known how the various Brahmin tribes with such diverse origins came to inherit the same paternal lineages. The Gotra system may have been philosophical/ideological at its roots rather than the popular belief that it indicates the genealogical origins.[citation needed]

Culture and Language[edit]

Amruteshwar temple characteristic of the style popularised by the well known Karhada minister of the Seuna Yadava kingdom of the Deccan - Hemadri Pandith Hemadpant.

Under the patronage of Adi Sankara Karhades are (Smarta ) and followers of the Advaita school of philosophy. They are Rigvedi Brahmins and follow the Ashwalayana Sutra.

One of the distinctive features of the Karhades belief system, is that their titulary deities (Graam Devatha ) is Shakti or Durga. Four 'Durga' temples are in the four corners of Kerala-Karnataka region where there is concentration of Karhaade population – Kongoor at Mangalore and Aavala, Agalpaady and Thaire in Kasaragodu. Similarly in the Marathi speaking domains, (of Mangaluru, Udupi, Shivamogga districts of Karnataka) Karhada populations have always patronised Mahalakshmi-Kolhapur and Shanta - Durga-Goa. Similarly, the Marathi dominions host 3 1/2 'Durga' temples in its four corners, Kolhapur, Tuljapur, Vani and Mahur. Originally the Kshaharatas perhaps spoke an old Eastern-Iranian language, however under the increasing cultural influences from the Satavahanas gradually their languages were Prakritised. They used Kharoshti and Brahmi scripts for writing. Subsequent Brahminisation during the Middle Ages inspired the Karhades to learn Sanskrit as a medium to officiate religious ceremonies.

Most modern day Marathi-speaking Karhade live in Maharashtra and Goa, though a significant population exists in Madhya Pradesh. A southern branch of Karhade Brahmins settled around the Kasaragodu region (north of the Chandragiri river) of the Malabar coast and are called the Karada and share their traditions with fellow Tuluva Brahmins of Kasargode and Dakshina Kannada/Udipi. Other Tuluva Brahmins of the region are Shivalli and Havyaka. South of the Chandragiri river, collectively the Tulu and certain Karhada Brahmins, who assimilated with the Kerala Brahmins are called Embranthiri / Bhattathiri.

In Goa Karhade have two subcastes, viz. Padyes who speak a unique dialect of Konkani/Bhati Bhasha and Bhatt Prabhus who speak standard Konkani.[1]

In some pockets the Karadi dialect has been preserved or has influenced the spoken languages of Karhade, e.g. the Karada Bhashe of Dakshina Kannada/Kasargodu, the Karhadi Boli of Rajapur/Sawantwadi and some peculiarities of the Marathi spoken by the Karhade of Bundelkhand.

Particular mention is made of the Karhadi dialect of Kasaragodu have studied this intra-community language unique to the region.

The modern Karhade celebrate several festivals according to the Hindu Calendar.

Karhadas have actively participated and patronised classical and folk music and art forms. In the Marathi speaking areas, Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki and several others have contributed immensely to the Hindustani Classical music.Another Karhada from Belgaum, Annasaheb Kirloskar promoted the Marathi Natyasangeet. In Kasaragodu region, they have been involved in the local art forms of Yakshagana and Talamaddale.

Food and Culinary Culture[edit]

The diet of all sub-groups of Karhada Brahmins is essentially lacto vegetarian. weather conditions, availability of ingredients and regional influences have impacted Karhada cuisine. Dairy based products such cow milk, butter milk and Ghee are consumed in large quantities. Many from this community have developed expertise in culinary art. Anecdotally in Maharshtra, there is a saying which goes as follows; "Karadyani Swayampak karava, Deshasthane vadava aani Kokanasthane avarava" - Translated meaning - Karada should cook, the Deshastha should serve and the Chitpavan should tidy up - that tanatamounts to a perfect meal.

Population estimates[edit]

The exact population of Karhade Brahmins is not known since the sub-caste wise census was not conducted after 1931. In 1931, the population of Karhades in Ratnagiri, Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Satara, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Nasik, Khandesh was 22,997.[2]

The Joshua project lists the total population of Karhade Brahmins as 87,000.

Sub-Groups and Other Classification[edit]

Sub grouping tend to follow regions of settlement and thus the language spoken at home. The following groups can now easily be identified:

Karhada Brahman: The Maharashtrian "proper" group constitutes the largest group and mostly hail from, reside in or have strong connections with modern Maharashtra, Belgaum, Indore, Baroda and Vidarbha. This groups speaks standard Marathi. It has traditionally been endogamous with other Karhade sub-groups such as Gurjar / Padhye, except with Rigvedi Deshastha Brahmins, with whom intermarriages were not uncommon. In modern times the group is exogamous with Chitpavan Brahmins also. Typical surnames being Mulye,Dhamankar, Upadhye, Alawani, Dhore, Naware, Naphade, Hardikar, Athalye, Paradkar, Moghe, Gune, Lagvankar, Palsule, Kher, Bhadbhade, Mahajani, Sapre, Khanwalkar, Tambe, Valame, Shahane, Mainkar, Agte, Tikekar, Bhatwadekar, Pandit, Kirloskar, Bhadkamkar, Thakur, Kakirde, Ambekar, Pandith amongst others. Traditional occupations included temple priests, administrative positions although quite a few families actively pursued horticulture.

Gurjar / Padhye: This ancient sub-group hails from the southern Konkan area – notably from Rajapur extending into the erstwhile Sawantwadi state. This group speaks standard Marathi but is believed to have once spoken a dialect that is very rare in modern times. Typical surnames in this sub-group are Bhagwat, Kashelkar, Gurjar, Gurjarpadhye, Patwardhan, Shouche, Tatke, Ghate, Mirashi, Degwekar, Prabhudesai, Thakurdesai, Sardesai, Padhye, Huzurbazar, Kirtane, Yogi and others. Traditional occupations were temple priests and horticulturists. The family deity of this sub-group is Arya Durga of Devi Hasol and Ankola, and most belong to the Kashyapa and / or Naidhruva gotra. This sub-group has traditionally been exogamous with Karhade, Padye and Rigvedi Deshastha. In modern times, intermarriages with Chitpavan are also common. They also worship the Sun God in the form of Lord Shri Kanakaditya whose ancient 12th Century Temple is at Village "Kasheli" in Taluka Rajapur of District Ratnagiri and his wife "Shri Devi Kalika" from the neighboring village "Adivare". Shri Kanakaditya Temple at Kasheli is one of the very few Sun Temples in India, besides Konark in Orissa. The idol of the Sun God in this temple at Kasheli is believed to have been brought from Somnath (Gujarat) by a temple dancer named 'Kanaka' and hence the name Kanaka-Aditya - Aditya meaning the Sun.

Goan / Padye: This is the largest sub-group residing or having strong connections with modern Goa. They speak variant of standard Marathi called Bhati Bhasha and are primarily temple priests and horticulturists (Kulagar). Typical surnames are Nigale, Tengshe, Abhisheki, Nawathe, Dhavalikar, Prabhudesai, Desai, Sardesai and Thakurdesai.

Goan / Bhat Prabhu: This sub-group appears to be a further sub-group of the Padye. This group constitutes descendants of a formerly degraded group of Padye, who were readmitted into the group in the earlier part of the 20th century. They speak standard Konkani.

Kasaragodu Karada: This sub-group is believed to have descended from a few Karhade/Gurjarpadhye and Padhye families who emigrated out of Rajapur/Goa during the Portuguese times. Among the karadas of kasaragodu, it is a popular belief that they migrated out of Maharashtra over 900 years ago. This sub-group still retains the use of the Karada Bhasha – which is a form of old Marathi highly influenced by local Dravidian languages. The Kasaragode Karada like their northern kinsmen were traditionally temple priests and horticulturists. Typical villages or origin are Bayaru, Agalpady, Padre, etc.

Karhada from Tulunadu: This relatively smaller sub-group descends from economic migrants of Maharashtrian Karhade and / or Gurjar Padhye origins during the ascent of the Maratha Confederation across India. Settlements are primarily around Mangaluru/Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka. They have traditionally been priests, cooks and horticulturists. They speak standard a dialect close to Marathi. Due to linguistic affiliations (and perhaps because they migrated much later to this region) this group is exogamous to the Kasaragodu Karhada, Chitpawan of Dakshina Kannada and occasionally Padhye of Goa.

Sagar Karhade: Like the Tulunadu Karhada - a small but influential group of Karhada families emigrated to northern India, wherever the Maratha Confederation was dominant. Places like Indore, Gwalher, Jabalpur and notably Bundelkhand received many Karhada immigrants. Especially in Sagar, a Karhada sub-culture can be argued to have been formed. Most Sagar Karhada held high positions during the Maratha rule, and now are mostly professionals. The speak standard Hindi and can communicate in Bundeli and Marathi. This sub-group is endogamous to all Marathi speaking Brahmins such as Karhade, Deshastha and more recently Chitpawan.

Linguistic and regional differences have led to the various sub-groups evolving hitherto independently of each other. Modern means of communications, notably through social media, person-to-person contacts, travel etc., will no doubt lead to an increased occurrence of intermarriages and perhaps the evolution of a greater sense of Karhada identity in the future. In reality, amalgamation through inter-marriages with other Brahmin sub-groups who share the same linguistic and regional background is taking place.


Karhade Brahmins have been significant participants throughout the history of India.[3]

Govindrao Tembe[Harmonium]

Personal names[edit]

Names in Karhade families generally follow conventions.[3]

Marathi and Konkani -Speaking Karhade and Padye Brahmins[edit]

After the standardization of family names during the British rule, the names of Marathi and Konkani speaking Karhadas are nowadays characterised by three part structure;

The given name is granted to the infant typically during the first month, during the Barsa ceremony. Traditional examples are Vishnu, Mahadeo, Durgadas, Bhagwan, Ramachandra, Bhargavram and Shankar. Honorary suffixes such as pant, rao, shastri and bhat were attached to male names to signify status. Traditional examples among females were Savitri, Narmada, Ahilya and Ganga, with suffixes such as bai, tai and akka.

The father's name, is the given name of the father (or husband of married women). The honorary suffixes are usually dropped.

The surname is often derived from the family's original village. Like other Marathi people, the suffix -kar is attached at the end, e.g. one who hails from the village Satavla, would call himself Satavlekar. Other surnames suggest the occupation or simply ones gotra. Listed below are Karada surnames.

Thus when asked, a Karhada would recite his name typically like Vishnupant Mahadeo Satavlekar and his other half might call herself Savitribai Vishnu Satavlekar.

Nicknames such as Dada, Tatya, Nana, Anna and Appa often replace the first and middle names among the immediate family and in case of socially prominent personalities. In the latter case the suffix -saheb applies to such affectionate nicknames. Thus Dada Satavlekar to his close relatives and Dadasaheb Satavlekar to his community.

Some Karhada families that assimilated into Hindustani- and Gujarati-speaking regions of Northern and Western India, modified their erstwhile Marathi surnames. Surnames ending "e" were altered to end with a "ia" or "iya". Thus Jade became Jadiya, Athale became Athalya and Nawathe became Nawathia.

Karhade Brahmins settled in Tulu, Kannada and Malayalam-Speaking regions[edit]

The standardization of family names during the British rule, affected the southern branch, Tulu, Kannada and Malayalam speaking Karhada names are also characterised by three part structure: the practice of using fathers / husbands name next to one's name (eg. Narayana Govinda Bhat, Usha Narayana Bhat) is extinct. To distinguish one Narayana Bhat from another Narayana Bat the name of locality or village or even Gotra is used i.e. Darbhe Venkatramana / Girisha Bharadwaja etc.

Thus, the third part of southern names is typically derived from the original village. However, the suffix -kar is not attached, e.g. one who hails from the village Pathanadka, would merely call himself Pathanadka. This is distinct from the Shivalli practice of using the suffice -aya - where the surname in the example above would have been Pathanadkathaya. Other surnames suggest the occupation or simply use gotra.

Male traditional given names include, Keshava, Narayana, Madhava, Shreerama, Shankaranarayana, Venkatesha and Ganapathi. Females include Lakshmee, Saraswati, Savithree, Paarvati, Ahalya and Godavari, Ganga etc..

Southern Karhadas use words such as bhat, bhatta, sharma, sasthry' Bhat' is indicative of Brahmin status - every Brahmin including Havyaka or Shivalli is called 'bhat' irrespective of sub-caste or family name. It is a common practice to append 'sharma' to one's name at the time of Munja. For example, Brahmopadesham indicates that after Upanayana Samskaara, one attains 'brahminhood'. The early migrants were priests, scholars, astrologers and cooks - making them all Bhats, Jois, Sharmas, Pandits, Shastrys, Paadhyes and Upaadhyes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gune, Vitthal Trimbak (1979). Gazetteer of the Union Territory Goa, Daman and Diu 1. Goa, Daman and Diu (India). Gazetteer Dept. p. 229. 
  2. ^ "Karhade Brahmanancha itihas" by Late V. V. Athalye (Page 37)
  3. ^ a b "Eminent Karhade Brahmin Personalities". The Karhaadaa. Retrieved 2013-01-31. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]