Maharashtrian Brahmins is a term used to describe Brahmin communities native to the Indian state of Maharashtra. Maharashtrian Brahmins are classified into two sub-divisions "Desh" and "Konkan". The "Desh" people are the Marathi-speaking section of Deccan plateau and The "Konkan" people are the Konkani-speaking section of the coastal lowlands between the Western ghats and the Arabian sea, which is known as Konkan division..
The Brahmins of Maharashtra include Deshastha, Chitpavan, Saraswat , Karhadeand Devrukhe. Brahmins constitute 9 - 10 percent of the population of Maharashtra. Almost 60 percent of Maharashtrian Brahmins are Deshastha Brahmins, followed by the Chitpavans, Saraswats, Karhades, and Devrukhes. The British era census of 1901 found the Deshastha throughout the then Bombay presidency, but particularly on the Deccan plateau.
- 1 Occupation
- 2 Diet, Culture and Festivals
- 3 Anti-Brahmin Violence in Maharashtra
- 4 Comparative Social Issues, Literacy and Women's issues
- 5 References
- 6 Bibliography
"Maharashtrian Brahmins have been known for traditional occupations of broader than those in most of the rest of India.Historically they have been administrators, businessmen and Political leaders".
During the Medieval & Modern India
Under the Bijapur Sultanate
Maharashtrian Brahmins first appeared in Bijapur Adil Shahi dynastys civil bureaucracy, specifically the revenue department, during the reign of Ibrahim Adil Shah I (1534-58), the first anti-foreign Sultan. Meadows Taylor states that whenever the Deccan Sultanates had the political opportunity, as they did under Ibrahim I, they deliberately employed Marathas and Maharashtrian Brahmins as a check against the power of foreigner class, especially the Iranians.
During the reign of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, the Bijapur kingdom 's next anti-foreigner Sultan, the pattern was repeated and an even greater number of Maharashtrian Brahmins were permitted to replace the Iranian revenue officials then being phrased out.  An impressive degree of Hindu- Muslim syncretism, resulting in part from these social changes, can be seen in the linguistic facets of 17th century Bijapuri culture. Ironically even though the number of Iranian administrators dwindled in the reign of Ibrahim II, it is clear that their Maharashtrian successors borrowed and assimilated a great deal of the Persian language, as is reflected in the revenue documents that survived from that period.The language used in these documents, which professor G. H. Khare has called Perso-Marathi.
A linguistic analysis of the influence of the Persian on 17th century Marathi has revealed that nearly 40% of the words used by the upper-classes of the Marathi-Speaking population were Persian.Even today the Persian content in everyday Marathi has been estimated at 10%, which professor P. M. Joshi has judged to be the most important of the kingdom's legacy.
Under the Maratha Empire
Under Portuguese rule
Saraswat Brahmins served as village Kulkarni,financiers,landlords,diplomats and held other important posts.Many sources of government income in Goa,cochi and elsewhere, including taxes on commodities and customs duties, remained in their hands..
Under British Empire
In Bombay Presidency in 1911 the proportion of the persons per thousand following the hereditary profession of Priest-hood was 123 among Chitpavan Brahmins and 119 among Deshastha Brahmins. During the British rule to the end for many decades most of the Dewans of erstwhile Travancore State were either Maharashtrian Brahmins who had settled in Tanjore, or Pattar. Their patronage filled the public services with Pattar, in all strategic positions from Dewan through Peishkar to village officers.
After the Independence of India
After Independence in 1947 under the new one-man one-vote set-up of the Indian democratic state, and particularly after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination in 1948 at the hands of a Maharashtrian Brahmin, the Brahmins of Maharashtra gradually lost their political and administrative power.
In modern times even the Brahmins rate the occupation of priests very low. This is not surprising for those who know the contemporary local conditions of this occupation. The modern Maharashtrian Brahmin priests are generally very low in educational level and their earnings are very meagre.
Pune's Mayor, Mukta Tilak, while addressing a Brahmin Community in Nasik in 2017, said "some other communities took out massive marches (for reservation), but Brahmins do not feel the need to do so. They (Brahmins) have to leave for other countries to look for opportunities." This kicked off a political storm and controversy and her statements were opposed by organizations such as Sambhaji brigade, National Congress Party and others. NCP corporator Chetan Tupe said, "She herself has availed the benefit of reservation to become a mayor".
According to the French political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot, in Maharashtra, Brahmins may still be resented by the Maratha caste and the Dalits but they(Brahmins) have now lost their political power.
Diet, Culture and Festivals
Gregory Naik describes the Deshastha Brahmins as "usually intelligent, courteous, and hospitable".
Sociologist Govind Sadashiv Ghurye states that the Brahmin government of Pune passed caste specific laws for alcohol consumption. Gupchup in her study on social change in the Bombay Presidency during the early 19th century states that liquor sale to Brahmins, Saraswath Brahmins, Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus and Pathare Prabhus was forbidden but there was no such ban for other castes and castes such as the Bhandaris were allowed to manufacture it.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak believed that the Deshastha, Chitpawan and Karhade should get united. He encouraged this by writing comprehensive discussions on the urgent need for these three sub-castes to intermarry and dine together.
Anti-Brahmin Violence in Maharashtra
20th Century Violence
After Gandhi's murder by Nathuram Godse, a Chitpawan, Brahmins in Maharashtra, became targets of violence, mostly by some elements from the Maratha caste. However, in Sangli, the Jains and the Lingayats also joined the Maratha in their attack against the Brahmins. The exact number deaths are unknown. Thousands of offices and homes were also set on fire. Molestation incidents were also reported during these attacks. On the first day alone, the number of deaths in Bombay were 15 and 50 in Pune.
As per V.M.Sirsikar, former Professor and Political Scientist at the University of Pune, "It will be too much to believe that the riots took place because of the intense love of Gandhiji on the part of the Marathas. Godse became a very convenient hate symbol to damn the Brahmins and burn their properties."
Renowned author and professor emeritus of political science at the State University of New York at Buffalo, Donald B. Rosenthal, in his book "Caste in Indian Politics" stated that the motivation for the violence was the historical discrimination and humiliation that the Maratha community faced due to their caste status. He wrote,"Even today, local Brahmins claim that the Marathas organized the riots to take political advantage of the situation".
In Satara alone, the official reports show that about 1000 houses were burnt down in about 300 villages. There were "cruel, cold-blooded killings" as well - for example, one family whose last name happened to be 'Godse' had three of its male members killed.
Maureen Patterson, professor of south asian studies at the University of Chicago, concludes that the greatest violence took place not in the cities of Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur - but in Satara, Kolhapur and Belgaum. Destruction was very large in Kolhapur where Shahu had actively collaborated with the British against the Indian freedom struggle - that was locally identified with Chitpawans like Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Shahu was also actively involved in the anti-Brahmin movement. In Sangli, the Jains and the Lingayats joined the Marathas in the attacks against the Brahmins. Here, specifically, the factories owned by the Chitpawan Brahmins were destroyed. This event led to the hasty integration of the Patwardhan states into the Bombay Province by March 1948.
21st century threats of violence
Purshottam Khedekar, the chief of "Maratha Maha Sangh" (a Maratha caste based organization) and Sambhaji Brigade, published writings in 2011 that had defamatory statements about the sexual habits, orientation and character of Brahmin men and women. He made a call for "instigating communal riots purposefully started to kill Brahmin men." However, Ramteke, an Ambedkarite, has written against Khedekar's writing. He said: "We should keep a distance from Khedekar and his movement against Brahmins. Dr Babasaheb [Ambedkar] never stooped to this level. If we continue to associate with him, it will malign our image. The government should ban the book and the organisation". In 2011, a news report said that the "Maratha politicians have mostly been silent on the issue". A case has since been registered against Khedekar.
Comparative Social Issues, Literacy and Women's issues
This section needs expansion with: post independence literacy research by Damle and marathi marriage issues by Mokashi, wastage of education per caste - research by Dubey etc., Gordon Johnson's research on Chitpwans and Deshastha literacy, Christine Dobbins' research etc.. You can help by adding to it. (July 2018)
In 17th century Maharashtra, Brahmins, CKPs and Saraswat Brahmins were the only communities that had a system of higher education for males. Education of all other castes and communities was very limited and consisted of listening to stories from religious texts like the Puranas or to Kirtans.[need quotation to verify]
Indian sociologist Sharmila Rege writes that the "caste composition of the emerging intelligentsia" in the British rule indicated the dominance of upper castes. For example, from 1827 to 1848, in the Elphiston institute of Bombay the upper classes such as the Saraswat Brahmins, Prabhus (CKP and Pathare)[a], Brahmins and Parsis formed majority of the students where as in Pune during the latter part of the 19th century, most students were Brahmins.
Gail Omvedt concludes that during the British era, the overall literacy of Brahmins and Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus(CKP) was overwhelmingly high as opposed to the literacy of others such as the Kunbis and Marathas. Specifically, the top three literate castes were Deshasthas, Chitpawans and CKPs. Men were more literate than the women from any caste. Female literacy as well as English literacy showed the same pattern among castes.[b]
In 1902, all communities other than Marathi Brahmins,Saraswat Brahmins,Prabhus (Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus, Pathare Prabhus) and Parsi were considered backward and 50% reservation was provided for them in by the princely state of Kolhapur. Then in 1925, the list was updated and only communities that were not considered backward by the British Government in the Bombay Presidency were Brahmins, Prabhus, Marwaris, Parsis, Banias and Christians.
Researcher and professor Dr.Neela Dabir concludes that until the 20th century, the Marathi Brahmin, CKP and Saraswat Brahmin communities, due to their upper-caste ritualistic norms, traditionally discouraged widow remarriage. This resulted in distress in the lives of widows from these castes (causing them to join Ashrams) as opposed to widows from other marathi hindu castes.[need quotation to verify]
- In Bombay, Prabhus were subdivided into Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu(CKP) and Pathare Prabhu.
- Omvedt does add a proviso saying that :There is difficulty in using such Census data, particularly because the various categories tended to be defined in different ways in different years, and different criteria were used in different provinces for classifying the population. Nonetheless, the overall trend is clear
- Milton B. Singer; Bernard S. Cohn (1970). Structure and Change in Indian Society. Transaction Publishers. p. 398.
- Dilip Chavan (2014). Language Politics under Colonialism: Caste, Class and Language Pedagogy in Western India. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 276.
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The Brahmins in Maharashtra are divided into three sub-castes viz. the Konkanastha, also known as 'Chitpavan ', the Karhade and the Deshasthas
- Tri. Nā Vāḷuñjakara, A. Śã Pāṭhaka (2009). Maharashtra, Land and Its People. Gazetteers Department, Government of Maharashtra. p. 42-50.
- Dhaval Kulkarni. "Brahmins too demand for reservations in Maharashtra". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
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- Richard I. Cashman (1975). The Myth of the Lokamanya: Tilak and Mass Politics in Maharashtra. University of California Press. p. 19.
The Deshasthas, who hailed from the Deccan plateau, the Desh, accounted for three-fifths of the Maratha Brahman population.
- Edmund Leach; S.N.Mukherjee (1970). elites in south asia. Cambridge University press. p. 98.
- Daniel Gold. Provincial Hinduism: Religion and Community in Gwalior City. Oxford University Press. p. 134. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
In Maharashtra, Brahmins have been known for traditional occupations of broader scope than those in most of the rest of India. Not just characteristically priests and scholars as elsewhere, Maharashtrian Brahmins were also recognized as men of action: adminsistrators, businessmen and Political leaders
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- Roberts, John (1971). "The Movement of Elites in Western India under Early British Rule". The Historical Journal. 14 (2): 241–262.
- Deborah S. Hutton (2006). Art of the Court of Bijapur. Indiana University Press. p. 17.
Bijapur Sulthanate certainly inherited patterns of cultural interactions from the Bahamani dynasty. One notable practice was the use of Maharashtrian Brahmins and Marathi-Speaking Soldiers in the kingdom's administration and army.Because the number of muslims in deccan was small, the Deccan Islamic kingdoms depended on the Brahmins, primarily from the Maharashtrian region for the administration and tax Collection
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- Gordon, Stewart (1993). Cambridge History of India: The Marathas 1600-1818. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-521-26883-7.
- Kulkarni, G.T. (1992). "DECCAN (MAHARASHTRA) UNDER THE MUSLIM RULERS FROM KHALJIS TO SHIVAJI : A STUDY IN INTERACTION, PROFESSOR S.M KATRE Felicitation". Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute. 51/52,: 501–510. JSTOR 42930434.
- Eaton 2015, p. 90.
- Eaton 2015, p. 91.
- Saki (social activist.) (1998). Making History: Stone age to mercantilism. Vimukthi Prakashana. p. 320.
- Kulkarni, Sumitra (1995). The Satara Raj, 1818–1848: A Study in History, Administration, and Culture - Sumitra Kulkarni. ISBN 978-81-7099-581-4. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
- "India : Rise of the peshwas - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. 2011-11-08. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
- Trade and Finance in Portuguese India: A Study of the Portuguese Country Trade 1770-1840 (XCHR Studies Series No. 5). p. 53.
- 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.
- Tri. Nā Vāḷuñjakara; A. Śã Pāṭhaka (2009). Maharashtra, Land and Its People. Gazetteers Department, Government of Maharashtra. p. 168.
- T. Madhava Menon (2002). A handbook of Kerala, Volume 2. International School of Dravidian Linguistics. p. 837.
For decades, the Dewans of erstwhile Travancore, and Cochin, were either Maharashtrian Brahmins who had settled in Tanjore, or Pattar. Their patronage filled the public services with Pattar, in all strategic positions from Dewan through Peishkar to village officers.
- Madhav Deshpande (1979). Sociolinguistic Attitudes in India: An Historical Reconstruction. Karoma Publications. p. 95.
After Independence in 1947 under the new one-man one-vote set-up of the Indian democratic state, and particularly after Mahatma Gandhi's assassination in 1948 at the hands of a Maharashtrian Brahmin, the Brahmins of Maharashtra gradually lost their political and administrative power
- A. C. Paranjpe (1970). Caste, Prejudice, and the Individual. Lalvani Publishing House. p. 67.
However, it is clear that even the Brahmins rate the occupation of priests very low . This is not surprising for those who know the contemporary local conditions of this occupation. The modern Maharashtrian Brahmin priests are generally very low and their earnings are very meagre
- "A war of labels". 9 January 2018.
- India's Communities, Volume 5. Oxford University Press. 1998. p. 2079.
Among them the Chitpavan, Desastha, Karhade and Devdny Brahman are pure vegetarian though nowadays, they occasionally take non-vegetarian food.
- Usha Bambawale (1982). Inter-religious Marriages. Dastane Ramchandra and Co. p. 123.
- Philip Thangam (1993). Flavours from India. Orient Blackswan. p. 11.
- Shailendra Bhandare. "CASTE CONSCIOUS CUISINE OF MAHARASHTRA". Outlook traveller. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Gregory Naik (2000). Understanding our fellow Pilgrims. p. 65.
The Deshasthas are physically sturdy, of a relatively dark complexion, usually intelligent, courteous, and hospitable
- Govind Sadashiv Ghurye (1969). Caste and Race in India. Popular Prakashan. p. 5.
Thus the Brahmin government of Poona, while passing some legislation prohibiting the manufacture and sale of liquors, excluded the bhandaris kolis and similar other castes from the operation thereof but strictly forbade the sale of drinks to Brahmins, Shenvis, Prabhus and Government officers
- Vijaya Gupchup. Bombay: Social Change 1813-1857. p. 166,167.
(page 167) The Bhandaris were given a permit for the manufacture of liquor but were forbidden to sell their products to castes such as Brahmins and Shenvis and the Prabhus because these were required by their caste laws to abstain from drinking.(page 166) The other intellectual class[besides Brahmins], the Prabhus were once again subdivided in the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu and the Pathare Prabhus.
- Sandhya Gokhale (2008). The Chitpavans: social ascendancy of a creative minority. p. 147.
As early as 1881, in a few articles Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the resolute thinker and the enfant terrible of Indian politics, wrote comprehensive discourses on the need for united front by the Chitpavans, Deshasthas and the Karhades. Invoking the urgent necessity of this remarkable Brahmans combination, Tilak urged sincerely that these three groups of Brahmans should give up caste exclusiveness by encouraging inter sub-caste marriages and community dining."
- Mariam Dossal; Ruby Malon (eds.). State Intervention and Popular Response: Western India in the Nineteenth Century. p. 11.
- Ullekh N P (2018). The Untold Vajpayee: Politician and Paradox. Random House India. p. 39.
- Koenraad Elst (2001). Gandhi and Godse:A review and Critique. pp. 12, 13, 14.
(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.
- "Department Profile : Department of Politics and public Administration : University of Pune". www.unipune.ac.in.
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- City, countryside and society in Maharashtra. University of Toronto, Centre for South Asian Studies. 1988. p. 40.
There is no doubt now since about 1000 houses were officially reported to have burnt in some 300 villages spread across all thirteen talukas of the District and Aundh State. There are reports of "cruel, cold-blooded killing" — one family named Godse was said to have lost three male members — and there were other serious physical attacks on Brahmans. In general, the victims of arson and looting were predominantly Brahman...
- "Maureen L. P. Patterson". www.press.uchicago.edu.
- "Laine-baiter Maratha author pens book to bash Brahmins". dna. 22 May 2011.
- Chavan, Vijay ChavanVijay; Dec 15, Pune Mirror; 2016; Ist, 02:30. "Brahmin insult charge on Maratha Seva Sangh chief". Pune Mirror. Text " Updated:" ignored (help)
- Kantak, M. R. (1978). "The Political Role of Different Hindu Castes and Communities in Maharashtra in the Foundation of the Shivaji's Swarajya". Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute. 38 (1): 44. JSTOR 42931051.
- Vijaya Gupchup. Bombay: Social Change 1813-1857. p. 166.
The other intellectual class, the Prabhus were once again subdivided in the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu and the Pathare Prabhus
- Sharmila Rege (2015). Writing Caste/Writing Gender: Narrating Dalit Women's Testimonies. zubaan. p. 32.
The caste composition of the emergent intelligentsia is clearly indicate of the fact that with the British policy of education, upper castes such as saraswats(shenvis) and prabhus could consolidate their hold over the scare opportunities...Between 1827 and 1848, several schools of the Elphistone institution had started and 152 students had completed matriculation. Out of these 152 students, 71 were prabhus, 28 Parsis, 16 Brahmans , 12 Saraswats and 25 belonged to lower castes...In the new English school in Pune, out of 982 students registered in 1886, 911 were brahmins.
- Omvedt, Gail (August 1973). "Development of the Maharashtrian Class Structure, 1818 to 1931". Economic and Political Weekly. 8 (31/33): 1418–1419.
page 1426:There is difficulty in using such Census data, particularly because the various categories tended to be defined in different ways in different years, and different criteria were used in different provinces for classifying the population. Nonetheless, the overall trend is clear...page 1416: Table 1: Literacy of selected castes(male and female). literacy caste(1921,1931): CKP(57.3%,64.4%); Chitpawan(40.9%,55.2%); Deshastha(40.3%,55.8%);sonar(22%,23.1%);shimpi(tailor)(21.2%,29.6%);koshti(weaver)(11.0%,17.5%);Maratha in Bombay(?, 11.3%), sutar(4.0%,7.5%), teli(oil presser): (3.8%,7.5%), Maratha in ratnagiri(2.9%,?), dhobi(washerman) (2.9%, 5.7%); Mali(2.3%,8.7%);Mahar(1.2%,2.9%); dhangar(shepherd) (1.2%,2.7%); chambhar(1.1%, 2.0%); kumbhar(1.1%,2.0%), Mang(0.5%,1.6%), Kunbi(0.6%,?),Bania-Berar(27.9%, 46.6%), Rajput-Berar(8.7%,11.4%);page 1419:Male literacy rates were much higher than the male and female together, but show the same pattern, as does the literacy in English. Not only were the Brahmans and CKPs overwhelmingly dominant, but maratha kunbi figures were amazingly low, especially for bombay province. Even allowing for the effects of sampling differences, the low rates for the marathas kunbis are striking, and it is noteworthy that many artisan castes were more literate. This also tended to be true in the central provinces-Berar.
- André Burguière; Raymond Grew, eds. (2001). The construction of minorities: cases for comparison across time. p. 222.
Reservations for backward communities were instituted in Bombay after 1925, when a government resolution defined backward classes as all except for "Brahmins, Prabhus, Marwaris, Parsis, Banias, and Christians."
- Richard I. Cashman. The Myth of the Lokamanya: Tilak and Mass Politics in Maharashtra.
when he issued the resolution of july 26th,1902, reserving, 50% of future vacancies in the kolhapur state service for the members of the "backward classes"The backward castes were considered to be those groups other than the advanced communities, namely the brahmans ,Prabhus, Shenvis and parsis
- Dr.Neela Dabir (2000). women in distress. Rawat Publishers. pp. 97, 99.
- Eaton, Richard Maxwell (2015). The Sufis of Bijapur, 1300-1700: Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India. Princeton University Press.