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Saraswat Brahmin

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The Saraswats are a sub-group of Hindu Brahmins of India who trace their ancestry to the banks of the Sarasvati River. The Saraswat Brahmins are mentioned as one of the five Pancha Gauda Brahmin communities.

Parshurama with Saraswat Brahmin settlers, commanding Varuna to make the seas recede in order to create the Konkan Region

History

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.[1] They were spread over a wide area in northern part of the Indian subcontinent. One group lived in coastal Sindh and Gujarat, this group migrated to Bombay State after the partition of India in 1947. One group was found in pre-partition Punjab and Kashmir most of these migrated away from Pakistan after 1947. Another branch, known as Goud Saraswat Brahmin, are now found along the western coast of India.[2]

Some Saraswats in Agra claim Ravana belonged to the Saraswat sub-caste of Brahmins.[3]

Culture

Social status

In Goa, the Saraswats were considered inferior in the caste hierarchy by the Chitpavan Brahmins. The Chitpavans, who are vegetarians looked upon the Saraswats as a polluted sub-caste because of their meat eating habits.[4]

Diet

In Goa, the Saraswat Brahmins are Non-vegetarian and take fish of all kinds, chicken and mutton.[5] In coastal districts of Karnataka, Gaud Saraswats are the Madhva Vaishnavite Saraswat Brahmins, followers of Madhvacharya,while the Saraswats are Smarthas, followers of Shankaracharya.[6] They are largely vegetarians.[7] The Saraswat Brahmins of the Konkan region are pescatarians.[8] There are even reports of Saraswat Brahmins of northern India of eating fish.[9][10][11]

Marriages

The Saraswats are divided into various territorial endogamous groups, who at one time did not intermarry.[12] Marriages between Saraswat and non-Saraswat Brahmins are on the increase though they were unheard of before, mainly because the Saraswats eat fish and occasionally meat, while all other Brahmins are vegetarians.[13][14]

References

  1. ^ D. Shyam Babu and Ravindra S. Khare, ed. (2011). Caste in Life: Experiencing Inequalities. Pearson Education India. p. 168. ISBN 9788131754399.
  2. ^ James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. Rosen. pp. 490–491. ISBN 9780823931804.
  3. ^ Qureshi, Siraj (12 October 2016). "A Dussehra without burning Ravana". India Today. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  4. ^ Arun Sinha. Goa Indica: A Critical Portrait of Postcolonial Goa. Bibliophile South Asia. p. 50. Retrieved 1 January 2002.
  5. ^ The Scheduled Castes, Volume 21. Oxford University Press. 1995. p. 185. The Saraswat Brahmins are non-vegetarian and take fish of all kinds, chicken and mutton.
  6. ^ S. Anees Siraj (2012). Karnataka State: Udupi District. Government of Karnataka, Karnataka Gazetteer Department. p. 189.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Understanding Society: Readings in the Social Sciences. Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 273. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  9. ^ Frederick J. Simoons (1994). Eat Not this Flesh: Food Avoidances from Prehistory to the Present. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 284.
  10. ^ Kaw, M. K. (2001). Kashmiri Pandits: Looking to the Future. APH Publishing. ISBN 9788176482363. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Forward castes must think forward as well". Hindustan Times. 23 November 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  12. ^ Kumar Suresh Singh (1998). India's Communities, Volume 6. Oxford University Press. p. 3175. The Saraswat Brahman are an ancient and a dynamic community of India, spread from Jammu and Kashmir to Konkan. They are divided into various territorial endogamous groups, who at one time did not intermarry.
  13. ^ Gopa Sabharwal (2006). Ethnicity and Class: Social Divisions in an Indian City. Oxford University Press. p. 131. ISBN 9780195678307. In fact, marriages between Saraswat and non-Saraswat Brahmins are on the increase though they were unheard of before, mainly because the Saraswats eat fish and occasionally meat, while all other Brahmins are vegetarians.
  14. ^ Ramesh Bairy. Being Brahmin, Being Modern: Exploring the Lives of Caste Today. Routledge. Retrieved 11 January 2013.