Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins

Rājāpur Sāraswat Brāhmins (RSB) (also known as Bhālāvalikar Gauda Saraswat Brahmins) are a Hindu community of India. They belong to the Pancha (five) Gauda Brahmana groups or "Gaudadi Panchakas".
Rājāpur Sāraswat Brahmins are a branch of the Saraswat Brahmins, who were supposed to have resided on the banks of the Saraswati River. They migrated to the Goa region in around 700 BC from the banks of the Saraswati. They got their name from their village of origin, namelyRajapur in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, India, where they had migrated from Goa. The community was known as Gowd Saraswat Brahmins before their migration from Bhalavali/Rajapur. Their migration from Goa was caused by a desire not to by forced into religious conversion by the Portuguese who were present there, and also to escape attacks from Muslim rulers.
They speak a version of the Konkani language that mixes Goan konkani and Marathi. They are disciples of Shri Gaudapadacharya Math, Kavle in Goa.
Saraswat Brahmins lived on the banks of now-extinct Saraswati River that flowed in the northern part of India.  They derived their name from either the river or from their spiritual leader, Saraswat Muni. who lived on the banks of the Saraswati. They belonged to Smartatradition and primarily worshipped Panchayatana (the five deities): ShivaVishnuDeviSurya and Ganesha.  These Brahmins were one of the Pancha Gouda Brahmin groups who lived north of the Vindhyas. 
Saraswat Brahmins mastered the Vedas, and administered the priestly rites in the temples. The Vedas were passed down to the generations by the virtue of word of mouth, as written records didn't exist at that time.  The Saraswat Brahmins had to maintain a very tight hold on their culture to maintain and protect their legacy. 
The first migration of Saraswats to Goa took place around 700 BC. They migrated from the Saraswati, mostly through sea routes in search of greener pastures.  They took up farming and trading business in Goa and worked in partnership with indigenous people. At the same time, they retained their Vedic way of life, performing their rituals and retaining their cultural traditions.  They also brought theirKuladevtas and established temples for their deities. These temples facilitated socio-cultural activities of the community.
Another popular belief is that Sage Parashurama brought Saraswats of 10 different gotras, to the south of Vindhyas to Gomatak, where he asked Varuna to vacate part of the sea-land, which is also called Parashurama Kshetra or Parashurama Shrishti. Then more Saraswat groups followed them. They follow the Shodasha Samskaras with Shrothra-Smartha Chatur Ashrama Karma. These Saraswats are Rigvedi Asulayana Suthra-Shakal Shakha-Adhyayees (student). 
Saraswats prospered for many centuries in Gomantak region. In 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, Saraswats migrated to different places for many reasons. In 1328, army of Tughalaks (Delhi Sultan) captured the Kadamba capital Chandrapur which included Gomantak region and looted it. Gomantak province came under Bahmani (Muslim ruler) rule in 1352 AD and ruled about quarter century, and again in 1472 AD. Bahamani Muslims attacked and destroyed many temples and forced people to convert to Islam. In 1510 Portuguese established their rule in Gomantak after capturing it from Adil Shah of Bijapur dynasty.
The subsequent entry of Christian missionaries made the matter worse for Hindus and Saraswat Brahmins. The Hindu temples were destroyed, Hindus were forced to convert to Christianity, Hindu religious functions were banned, people were also forced to eat beef. In 1559 AD, King Joao III of Portugal issued a decree threatening expulsion or execution of non-believers in Christianity. In about 1560 AD, beautiful temple at Keloshi, Kushasthali (Mangesh, Shanta durga), Shri Gaudapadacharya Math at Keloshi and about 280 temples were destroyed in Berdez and 300 temples in Salcette, and many churches were built. 

To avoid this humiliation and religious persecution, several Saraswat families fled to different directions such asMangalore, north Canara in Karnataka, Cochin in Kerala, Ratnagiri District in Maharashtra to name few, some families who could not afford to flee or resist the persecution converted to Christianity, some who could resist but were not willing to abandon their farms and business stayed on and rebuilt their lives. 
They built few temples in these places and continued Smartha tradition. They have their surnames like Lotlikar,Tendulkar,Salwankar, Karlekar etc. (ref. names given under 'Upanamas' in below table of Gotras) which are the original names of Gomantak villages.
Those who fled and settled in Rajapur/Bhalavali village lived there for about two to three centuries. Rajapur used to be an important centre of maritime trade. The Rajapur town has a creek which was navigable and English and French East India Company had established factories near the creek which were abandoned in the early 1700s. Some families engaged in trade. and others worked in military posts, form which they got surnames such as Nayak and Prabhu. 
There used to be frequent battles between Maratha Kings and Muslim rulers of Bijapur Adil Shahi dynasty in these areas, including Kudal and Savantwadi.  In 1660 Maratha KingShivaji Maharaj attacked the Rajapur and looted English establishments in retaliation to them providing arms and ammunition to rival Muslim rulers. The frequent battles lead to unrest in the area and difficult to live, which made people to leave these areas and find a safer shelter elsewhere. 
So it is believed that Rajapur Saraswats migrated to Karnataka and Kerala between the late 16th century and early 17th century. They mainly settled in Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu Districts of Karnataka and Kasaragod District in Kerala and Rajapur Saraswats settled in Udupi District. As per D.P.Nayak's book Kudaladeshkar Part 2, they migrated to Coastal Karnataka and northern Kerala in the 17th century between 1749 and 1750 AD. 
Though the Rajapur had their identity as Gauda Saraswat Brahmins until they migrated to Karnataka and Kerala, they kept a separate denominational identity. Their new-found habitat of Karnataka and Kerala already had strong presence of Konkani speaking Gauda Saraswat Brahmins who had directly migrated from Goa in 13th and 14th century and they were followers of Vaishnavism as they had converted from Smarta sampradaya to Vaishnavism under the influence of Shri Madhwacharya's Dwaita philosophy and were followers of Kashi Math. They were financially prospered community, as over couple of centuries they had established themselves in trade and business in this region and had their own identity. In those days the spoken language was closely associated with identification of a community. 
During that time migration means leaving a place of living with only worn clothes and grains enough for few days of living, obviously the migrant Rajapurs were not financially strong. They were still followers of Smarta tradition and however they were not in touch with their Kula Guru Peetha Shri Gaudapadacharya Math in Goa. They spoke a different Konkani dialect under the influence of Marathi due to living in Maharashtra for couple of centuries. These socio-economic factors forced them to establish their own new identity separate from Gauda Saraswat Brahmins of the region. Thus the families who came from Rajapur Taluk of Ratnagiri District came to be known as Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins, and who came from Bhalavali came to be known as Bhalavalikar Saraswat Brahmins. 

In the course of time after migrating to Karnataka and Kerala until 1967 they remained disciples of Shri Sringeri Sharada Math established by Adi Shankara which follows Smarta Sampradaya, as they had lost contact with their original Guru Peetha Shri Gaudapadacharya Math in Goa. The reasons for losing the contact with Guru Peetha can be attributed to lack of communication in those days, destruction of hri Gaudapadacharya Math and thereby prolonged absence of successive Swamijis in Gomantak (as they decided to remain in Varansasi) due to of religious atrocities committed by Portuguese in Goa.
In 1942 AD, Shri Durgaparameshwari temple was built at Bantakal in Udupi District by RSBians. The yearly temple festival facilitated gathering of large number of community people at one place. During such a festival in 1947, Shri Kodange Pandith Narayan Nayak addressed the gathering and reminded the community people that their ancestors belonged to Gomantak Saraswats and they were disciples of Shri Gaudapadacharya Math. He also stressed for working towards renewing the relation with the Guru Peetha Shri Gaudapadacharya Math in order to restore the pride and achieve overall development of the Rajapur Saraswath Brahmins. 
Further to this, in 1956 another massive community gathering was organised in Shri Durgaparameshwari temple at Bantakal. In that gathering Puttur Mukund Nayak addressed the gathering and presented compilation of detailed history of Rajapur Saraswat Brahmanas, with details such as Gothras, family deity details, surnames etc. prevalent in the community and comparing it with Goan Saraswats emphasising the ancestral relations. 
In 1963 AD Shrimat Satchidananda saraswati Swami Gaudapadacharya, mathadipati of Shri Gaudapadacharya Math was on a Mokkam at Shri Venkataramana temple in Karkala along with Shri Sudhindra teertha swamiji, mathadish of Kashi Mutt. During this occasion both the Swamiji's were met by RSB community leaders and prayed at their lotus feet to pay a visit to Shri Aadi Shakti Mahalakshmi temple, Lakshmipura, a community temple built and managed by Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins. Later both the Swamijis accepted the invitation and they were welcomed to Laxmipura temple in a grand ceremony with great devotion and respect to Guru peetha. This was a historic event for Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins because they took this opportunity to explain the reasons which had led them to lose contact with Shri Gaudapadacharya Math Saunstan to Shrimat Satchidananda Saraswati Swami Gaudapadachrya in detail and prayed at his lotus feet to accept them again as disciples of the Math and bless them. 
In response to this prayer, Shrimat Satchidananda Saraswati Swami Gaudapadacharya held detailed discussions with other Saraswat math swamiji's for taking a decision. On 15 April 1967, with the divine presence of Shri Swamiji of Kashi Mutt, after performing religious rituals in Shri Adi Shakti Mahalakshmi temple, Lakshmipura, hrimat Satchidananda Saraswati Swami Gaudapadacharya issued a Rayasa (written letter) accepting the RSB community as disciples of Shri Gaudapadacharya Math and whole heartedly blessed them.  Subsequent to this event, in 1971 AD. Shrimat Satchidananda Saraswati Swami Gaudapadacharya, performed his Chaturmas vruta for the first time in Shri Aadi Shakthi Mahalakshmi temple, Laxmipura. 
Predominantly Rajapur Gauda Saraswat Brahmins settled in places near Karkala, Udupi in Karnataka and Bhalavalikar Gauda Saraswat Brahmins settled in Sullia, Bantwal, PutturKodagu in Karnataka state and Kasaragod district in Kerala. It made them divided into two separate groups due to lack of communication. In 1978 with the intervention and blessings of Shri Sachidananda Saraswati Swami Gaudapadacharya of Shri Gaudapadacharya Math, both Rajapur and Bhalavalikar Saraswats came together as single group. 
RSBians follow Smartism or Smarta Sampradaya, Smarta Tradition, as it is termed in Sanskrit is a denomination of the Hindu religion. The termSmarta refers to adherents who follow the Vedas and Shastras. Though large number of Sraswats converted to Vaishnavism under the influence ofShri Madhwacharya, it was believed that the forefathers of RSBians had taken an oath in front of Lord in Mangueshi temple in Goa that they will never convert to Vaishnavism under any circumstances and remained under Smarta Sampradaya. They mainly follow the Advaita Vedantaphilosophy of Shri Gaudapadacharya which was later popularised by his parama Shishya Shri Adi Shankaracharya.They are Rigvedi Brahmins and follow the Ashwalayana Sutra. They are the disciples Shri Gaudapadacharya Math Saunstan located at KavalePonda TalukaGoa and Mathadipati of the Math is as their Kulaguru.
They belong to 10 gotras and worship Kula Devata or family deity as per the Panchayatana puja' system. As per this system of worship in the Smarta sampradaya, it consists of the worship of five deities: Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Surya and Ganesha. The Kula Devata or family deity is kept in the center and the other four surround it. Worship is offered to all the deities. The five are represented by five marks made by keeping handful of white rice and a coconut is kept over the mark in center representing the Kula Devata. 
Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts are the main places in Karnataka where Rajapur/Bhalavalikar Saraswats are concentrated. However over a period Rajapur/Bhalavalikar Saraswats went to different places and cities for jobs, education and better living. Now we can also find the many members of this community living in BangaloreMumbaiPuneKarwarBelgaum and also abroad mainly in Middle East and USA. 
Rajapur/Bhalavalikar Gaud Saraswats refer to themselves as 'Konknay' (Konkanies). Since they migrated from Goa, they continued speaking the Konkani language. The local Marathi language had a heavy influence on their native language, causing them to blend Goan Konkani with presence of many Marathi words. People who migrated to Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu districts of Karnataka and Kerala adopted some words from the KannadaTulu, and Kodava languages.
Families who continued to live in Rajapur/Bhalavali areas adopted either Marathi or Malvan Konkani over a period of time.
Rajapur/Bhalavalikar Saraswats are of 10 gotras, they are:
  • Atreya
  • Bharadwaja
  • Dhananjaya
  • Gautama
  • Jamadagni
  • Kaundinya
  • Kaushika
  • Kashyapa
  • Vasishta
  • Vatsa
Saraswats have a the concept of Panchayatana, means worshipping five Gods like form of Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Surya and Ganesha. 
Kula devata are the deities which a set of families of identical gotras primarily worship. There will be a main temple for each deity built and maintained by these families. Many Kula devata temples are in Goa. People travel from far away places of settlement to these temples in Goa, normally once in a year to perform Puja and take blessings from the Shri Gaudapadacharya Math Newly married couples are supposed to visit their family deity's temple (Kuladev Mandir) soon after their marriage and take blessings of the Kula devata and Kula guru Shri Gaudapadacharya Math. 
Below given table provides details of gotras and their Kula devatas, prevalent surnames, Upanamas etc. of Rajapur/Bhalavalikar Brahmins. Most of the Upanamas are original Gomantak village names where they used to stay. People use either 'Upanama' or 'Janmanama' as their surname.
GotraPravaraUpanamaJanmanamaKuladevta (Family Deity)BharadwajaAngirasa, Barhaspathya, Bharadhwaja.Madkaikar, Salvankar, Shivaji, Thakur, Wagle.Nayak, Nayak, Shenoy, Nayak, Shanbhag, Sharma.Shantadurga, Mahalakshmi, LakshmiRavalanath, LakshmiNarayana.GautamaAngirasa, Ayushya, Gautama.Kamat/Kamath, Mahajan, Mokoshi.Kamath/KamatSaptaKoteshwar, LakshmiNarayana, Ganapathi.AtriAtreya, Archananasa, Shyavashya.Shendre, Bokde/Bokade, Bandre, Budukule, Goorke, Burake.Nayak, Marathe, Nayak, Prabhu, Shenoy.Mangesh, MahadevaMaharudra, Mahalakshmi, Kamakshi,LakshmiRavalanath.KashyapaAvatsara, Kashyapa, Asike.Sankolkar, Kinare, Mahajan, Bhagav, Dhonde, Manjrekar.Nayak, Juvale, Nayak, Shembekar, Nayak, Nayak, Manjrekar.Narsimha, Nagesha, Mahalakshmi, Shri Mahalsa Narayani, Shanteri, Mangesh.VashishtaVashishta, Indrapramada, Bharadwasu.Haldonkar,Nar, Potkar, Ambelkar, Khandolkar, Lanjol, Lanjekar, Nidod, Sankalkar, Shevde.Nayak, Kamath, Kamat, Prabhu, Nayak, Prabhu, Nayak, Prabhu, Nayak.Bhagavati, LakshmiRavalanatha, Narsimha, Mahalakshmi,NavdurgaRavalnatha, Mahalakshmi, Mahalakshmi, SaptaKoteshvara, Mahalakshmi, Mahalakshmi.VatsaBhargava, Chyavana, Apnavan, Cherva, Jamadagni.Kini,Navelkar, Aslekar, Khandolkar, Kadavanekar, Kamat/Kamath, Valavalkar.Kini,Prabhu, Nayak, Mallya, Prabhu, Nayak, Kamat/Kamath, Nayak.Ganapati Khandola, GanapatiKhandola, Ravalanatha, Nagesha, Mahalakshmi, Narsimha, Shantadurga.KaundinyaVashishta, Maitravaruna, Kaundinya.Shinkar, Lotalikar, Kini, Wakade, Shembekar, Kanchikar, Borkar.MayekarPai, Prabhu, Prabhu, Nayak, Juvale, Sharma, Nayak, Nayak, Nayak.ShenviRamanath, Mangesh, Ramanath, Ravalanath, Ganapati, Mahalakshmi, Mangesh, Shantadurga.Mangesh,Mahalaxmi.DhananjayaAtreya, Archananasa, Dhananjaya,Tendulkar, Patkar, Kalwari, Kavatkar/bhute, Raykar, Mede, Bhagavat, Brahme, Gavalkar, Gudkar, Godbole, Jharame.Prabhu, Prabhu, Nayak, Nayak, Nayak, Nayak, Prabhu, Nayak, Nayak, Nayak.LakshmiRavalanath, LakshmiRavalanath, Mahalakshmi, Ravalanath, Mahalakshmi, Mahalakshmi, Mahalakshmi, Mahalakshmi.KaushikaVishwamitra, Aghamarpana, Kaushika.Mondkar, Kelkar, Bandodkar, Bandelkar, Pandit, Chimbalkar, Juvalosahukar, Kapur.Prabhu, Pai, Nayak, Nayak, Nayak.Nagesha, Nagesha, Mahalakshmi, Nagesha, Shantadurga, Nagesha.JamadagniBhargava, Chyavana, Apnavan.Marathe, Karlekar.Nayak, Prabhu.Somanatheshwara, Lakshmiravalanatha.
Goddess Shri Durgaparameshwari is widely worshipped by Rajapur/Bhalavalikar Saraswat Brahmins as their Ishta devata apart from Kula devata. It may be a legacy of their routes in Bengal, which was part of then Gaud Desh, where worshipping Goddess Durga is very popular. As they migrated bare handed from Goa and then from Rajapur/Bhalavali, they believed Goddess Shri Durgaparameshwari protects them like a 'Durga' (fort) from all evils. The number of Shri Durgaparameshwari temples built by the community despite their poverty is testimonial to their strong faith on the Goddess.

Some of the Kuladevata temples located in Goa are:
  • Shri Laxmi Narayan, KundaimGoa
  • Shri Laxmi Ravalanatha, Gavanavada, MarshalGoa
  • Shri Ganapati, Khandola, MarshalPondaGoa.
  • Shri Bhagavati Haldonkarin Samsthan, Khandola, Marshal, Ponda, Goa.
  • Shri Mangesh Maharudra, Mangeshim/Priyol, Ponda, Goa.
  • Shri Mahalsa Narayani, Mardhol, Ponda, Goa.
  • Shri Lakshmi Narsimha, Veilinga, Ponda, Goa.
  • Shri Nagesh Maharudra, Nageshim, Bandiwadem/Bandora, Ponda, Goa 
  • Shri Mahalakshmi, Bandiwadem/Bandora, Ponda, Goa 
  • Shri Navadurga, Madkai, Goa.
  • Shri Ramnath Shanteri Kamakshi, Ramnathim, Ponda, Goa.
  • Shri Shantadurga, Kavale, Ponda, Goa.
  • Shri Laxmi Ravalnath, MulgaoGoa.
  • Shri Shantadurga Ravalnath MulgaoGoa
This is a list of the prevalent surnames known to occur in the Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins (RSB) community:
  • Ambelkar
  • Bandelkar/Bandodkar/Bandodekar/Bandre
  • Bhagwat
  • Bhandarkar/Bhandankar/Bhandare
  • Bhat
  • Bokade/Bokde
  • Borkar
  • Chimbalkar
  • Dhonde
  • Gavalkar
  • Godbole
  • Kamat/Kamath
  • Kelkar
  • Kindre/Kinare
  • Lotalikar
  • Madkaikar
  • Marathe
  • Mondkar
Saraswats wherever they migrated and lived, they built some fine temples. These temples facilitated community gatherings, carrying out religious rituals & traditions also it helped to safeguard the Culture they carried over centuries. Rajapur/Bhalavalikar Saraswat Brahmins have built many temples, some of them are :
  1.  Shri Durgaparameswari, Post Bantakal, Udupi Dist, Karnataka, Pin:574 115. (Established in 1942)
  2. Shri Adishakti Mahalaxmi, Laxmipura, Hirgana, Karkala Taluk, Udupi Dist. Karnataka, Pin:574 127. (Established in 1891)
  3. Shri Narsimha, Narasinghe, Post Parkala, Udupi Dist, Karnataka, Pin:576 107.
  4. Shri Durgaparameswari Temple, Adpadi-Kodi, Post Palli, Karkala Taluk, Udupi, Karnataka, Pin:574 244.
  5. Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple Montimar (Established in 1833), Montimaru, Post Manchi, Bantwala Taluk, Dakshina Kannada Dist.,Karnataka, Pin:574 323.
  6. Shri Durgaparameshwari, Mogeru, Post Katukukke, Via Perla, Kasaragod Taluk, Kerala, Pin:670 552. (Established in 1884)
  7. Shri Rama Bhajana Mandira, Kodange, Parkala, Karnataka, Pin:576 107.
  8. Shri Durgaparameshwari Bhajana Mandira, Kerpala Road, Sullia post, Dakshina Kannada Dist, Karnataka, Pin:574 327.
  9. Shri Bhavani Shankar Mandir, 24, Ronak Bhavan, Bachani Nagar Road, Malad East, Mumbai, Pin:400 097.
  10. Shri Datta Mandir, Kodvali.
  11. Shri Gajanana Mandir, Rajapur.
  12. Shri Navadurga Temple, Bhalavali.
  13. Shri Ravalanath, Bhalavali.
  14. Shri Lakshmi-Madhav, Bhalavali.
  15. Shri Bhagavathi, Bhalavali.
  16. Shri Mukhyaprana, Rajapur.
  • Navelkar
  • Nayak
  • Pai
  • Patkar
  • Prabhu
  • Rao
  • Salvankar
  • Sharma
  • Shendre
  • Shenoy
  • Shevde
  • Sinkar
  • Tendulkar
  • Wagle

Goud Saraswat Brahmins of Cochin

Cochin Gowd Saraswat Brahmins, also known as Cochin GSB's are a sub-group of the Gowd Saraswat Brahmins, who are native to Cochin andTravancore in the Kerala state of India. They are descended from those GSB's who settled in former princely states of Cochin and Travancore. GSBs of northern Kerala are similar to GSBs of Canara in speech and customs, whereas GSBs of former princely states of Cochin and Travancore have developed their own dialect and Customs, which distinguish them from rest of GSB community. In Geographical terms, Cochin GSBs are those who live in the ernakulam district of Kerala.

GSBs started trickling into Cochin from late 13th century onwards following the military campaign by Alla-ud-din Khilji. The largest and the last great migration happened in A.D 1560 in wake of the inquisition in Goa. History of Cochin GSBs can be divided into three eras.
The Islamic incursions into Goa in late 13th century triggered a migration of Goud Saraswat Brahmins, a small number of them settled in Cochin. In the 14th century, following a great flood, Cochin (only a village before the Portuguese turned it into their first city in India) started to emerge as an important trade post, and commercial prospects attracted many Goud Saraswat Brahmins to Cochin. 
The Goud Saraswat Brahmins of Cochin played a key role in the emergence of Cochin as the international trade center. Local rajas had granted them privileges to encourage trade in their domain. With the advent of Europeans, Cochin GSBs quickly developed trade links with them.
In A.D 1542 Kashimath samstan was established thus establishing religious autonomy of Cochin GSBs. A papal bull initiated inquisition in Goa 1560, triggering massive exodus of GSBs from Goa. A large contingent of GSBs joined existing GSB settlement of Cochin. Most of the newcomers were from the modern day Salcette district of southern Goa and were mostly entrepreneurs. The capital and skills brought in by GSBs played a major role in the ascendancy of Cochin which became one of the most important city of India.
The political ascendancy of Europeans in Cochin saw GSBs emerge as one of the most important trading communities of Cochin. The Saraswat Brahmins with their language skills and commercial acumen established themselves as the intermediaries between the Europeans and the native. Cochin GSBs did not play any role in inland trade of Kerala. All major GSBs temples were established in this period. Prosperous GSBs patronised the temples.
The GSB temples and the Kashimath samstan are reminders of the success and stature that Cochin GSBs achieved in this era.
In 1654, the Tirumala Devasom recorded the arrival of 360 families in Cochin. Among them was Devaraya Kamathi, one of the most prosperous merchants in Goa, who brought so many bags of gold coins that it required 200 persons to carry them. 
Towards the end of the 18th century, the importance of Cochin as a commercial hub started diminishing. As a result Dutch power in Cochin started to wane. This development has adversely affected Saraswat Brahmins, who depended on Dutch for trade and protection. In 1772 the GSBs of Cochin came under the jurisdiction of Cochin rajas, disagreements appear to have developed between the two. The Saraswat Brahmins who did not invest enough resources in building and maturing relationship with indigenous communities found themselves in a position of weakness and isolation.
Another major development which affected GSBs in an adverse manner was the crowning of Sakthan Thampuran in late 18th century who was, for reasons not clear, ill disposed towards them. Following a dispute, Sakthan Tampuran ordered sacking of Cochin tirumala devaswom and GSB businesses. Many prominent GSBs were killed and the Cochin GSB temple was looted. Social status of Cochin GSBs suffered immensely from this episode. This was the beginning of a long isolation of Cochin GSBs from the rest of the Kerala population.
Around the same time, British replaced Dutch as the paramount power of Cochin. This episode was much more far reaching in consequences as far as Cochin GSBs were concerned. The British did not have any commercial interest in Cochin as Dutch did, which inevitably led to the decline of Cochin as a commercial hub. The Cochin GSBs who were the middlemen between Europeans and Malayalis were thus deprived of the source of income. The GSBs of Cochin, who mainly consisted of entrepreneurs and not literary class, simply did not have the know how to survive in the new order. Large sections of the community was quickly reduced to poverty under the circumstances. While community as a whole declined, the GSB temples continued to be rich providing the focal point around which the GSB life revolved, both in spiritual and secular sense.
By early 20th century, Cochin GSBs were reduced to an impoverished minority. Around this time cochin GSBs started making forays into inland trade. A small but prosperous entrepreneur class emerged in the ranks of Cochin GSBs. 1930s were the times when Kerala witnessed major social changes which saw the caste system weakening. GSB community remained largely impervious to these changes, and preferred to live in isolation. Land reforms initiated by government of Kerala contributed a lot to the decline of GSBs temples, a decline which continues even today. These two centuries were a period of great stagnation and degeneration among GSBs, a blow from which Cochin GSBs are yet to recover completely.
From 1950 onwards Cochin GSBs have started taking up white collar jobs, Banks founded by GSBs of Canara provided opportunities which previously did not exist. This gave rise to a small GSB middle class. Isolation of GSB community, however, prevented them from the reaping the benefits of Gulf boom of 70s. Towards the end of this period Cochin GSB community consisted of a small wealthy upper class, a small middle class, and large low income group. The success of the GSB entrepreneurs was evident from the fact that GSBs businessmen figured in among the top tax payers of Kerala state in disproportionally high number as late as early 1990s.
The advent of 1980s ushered an era of changes, both economical and social, within Cochin GSB community.
At the economic front, Kerala witnessed a change in the commercial landscape with flood of capital from the middle east. The Saraswat entrepreneurs who were hitherto successful were forced to compete with emerging business class flush with Persian Gulf capital, forcing saraswat Brahmin youngsters seek professional career in government and emerging service industry.
At the social front, breaking down of joint family system saw many GSBs venturing out of the ghettos, thus bringing them in contact with various malayali communities. This has resulted in the infusion of some fresh ideas into the community. Coming out of shell, Cochin GSB have started building building skills that enabled them to enter mainstream and compete successfully in a variety of pursuits.
The GSBs have also benefited from the accelerated pace of Globalization and the resulting boom from 1990s. The GSB middle class is fast expanding. Financial status of the community has steadily been improving with the wealth distribution becoming more even. Once an entrepreneur community, Cochin GSBs are now getting employed increasingly in service sector. A small trading class still thrives.
Increased social interaction with Malayali communities, while bringing in number benefits, is also threatens the continuing existence of GSB community as a separate one. This close social interaction has brought in inter caste marriages which could erode GSB population in long run.
Increasing shift of center gravity towards the professional middle class from the entrepreneur class, lower class emulating the middle class and climbing the social ladder, integration with Malayalam speaking communities, etc. are the major trends that shape the Cochin GSB community at the moment.
The Travancore region of Kerala is home to considerable number of Marathi Deshastha Brahmins who migrated from Tanjavur and Madhurai. Past few decades have witnessed sections of this community increasingly identifying themselves as Konkani GSBs. Intermarriages between the Marathi and Konkani Brahmin communities are on the rise. Some of the Marathi Brahmin community have even adapted Saraswat Brahmin Surnames.
Shrimad Vibhudendra Tirtha was the fourteenth Swamiji of the Kashi Matha Samsthan.The Swamiji had initiated a vatu into sanyasa and called him Shrimad Sumateendra Tirtha on 15th March, 1815. Later when the Guru Swamiji was camping in Manjeshwara in 1834, the Shishya-Swamiji was in Kochi. The Swamiji felt that his end was near and immediately sent for his Shishya Swamiji. However, due to the non-availability of suitable, rapid transport facilities, the Shishya-Swamiji could not come to Manjeshwara in time. In order to ensure the continuity of the pujas of the deities of the Kashi Matha Samsthan, the Guru-Swamiji initiated one Abbayya (perhaps Bhat), a scholarly vaidika of the retinue of the Swamiji and named him Shrimad Vasudendra Tirtha and attained Maha Samadhi on 27th February, 1834. His Vridavana is in the Kashi Matha premises in Manjeshwara.
Some time after the passing away of Shrimad Vibhudendra Tirtha Swamiji in 1834, a difference of opinion arose between his two Shishya-Swamijis. It went to such an extent that the younger Swamiji, Shrimad Vasudendra Tirtha demanded the division of all the movable and immovable properties of the Kashi Matha as well as the followers of the Matha and filed a suit in the Calicut court to that effect.
The two shishyas being the official and legal heirs of the entire Kashi Matha, the court agreed with the younger Swamiji and issued the necessary decree for the division of the Matha. But before enforcing the different provisions of the decree two events happened, which prevented the changing course of the history of the Kashi Math.
  • Firstly, the elder Swamiji, Shrimad Sumateendra Tirtha, selected a minor from his followers and initiated him into sanyasa on 1849 and accepted him as shishya, who was namedshrimad Bhuvanendra Tirtha
  • Secondly, the elder Swamiji, Shrimad Sumateendra Tirtha, attained Samadhi on 31 st January, 1851 in Shri Venkatapati Temple, Alleppy, where his Vrindavana is situated. When this happened, Shrimad Bhuvanendra Tirtha was still a minor.
In the meantime Shrimad Vasudendra Tirtha was camping in Shri Venkataramana Temple, Kundapura. He was about to get the decree enforced, thereby dividing the Matha into two Mathas and also to select a Shishya. It was at this time that news reached the Swamiji that his co-Shishya, Shrimad Sumateendra Tirtha, attained Samadhi in Alleppey. His Shishya, being a minor, a question arose as to who would be his guardian. The minor promptly and with great foresight requested Shrimad Vasudendra Tirtha to be his guardian.
Now the latter obliged. Further, he gave up the idea of division of the Kashi Matha and even went a step further. He voluntarily and with a broad mind delegated all his rights to his share of the property of the Kashi Matha sanctioned to him earlier by the court decree mentioned earlier, to his ward, the minor Swamiji. He did not proceed with his plans regarding the initiation of some one into sanyasa and accepting him as his Shishya Swami.
For reason not fully known, a rivalry between the Senior Pontiff Sudhindra Thritha and Junior Pontiff Raghavendra Thritha came to light in 2001.  The courts have decided in favour of Senior Pontiff Sudhindra Thirtha, according to the latest reports. The whole episode has created a major discord in the community. Case is still pending in Andhra Pradesh High Court.  
In the absence of reliable census data, it is difficult to ascertain the number of Cochin GSBs. The census reports from early 20th century conducted by Cochin and Travancore princely states give a combine figure of approximately 14,500. The population of these geographies have increased fivefold now. Assuming the GSB population grew at the same rate, a figure of 70,000 may be an extrapolated.
Cheralai area of Ernakulam city, Downtown Ernakulam, Allapuzha Anandanarayanapuramchertala (muttam)ThuravoorKayamkulamKollam, and downtown Ernakulam, North Parur, Varapuzha, Cherai, Vypeen, TRIPUNITHURA (PURNAVEDAPURI),Kottayam and Ettumanoor are the some of the areas one finds significant GSB population.
Most Cochin GSBs speak a dialect of Konkani among themselves. Cochin konkani has incorporated large number of Malayalam words, extent of Malayalam influence varies from place to place. GSBs of Cherelai and Ernakulam and Tripunithura area of Cochin speak purer Konkani. As one moves southwards influence of Malayalam becomes more pronounced.
Almost all of Cochin GSBs write/read/speak Malayalam. Older GSBs hailing from predominantly GSB areas tend to speak grammatically wrong Malayalam with an accent. Malayalam spoken by Cochin GSBs is often caricatured in films and on stage in the past. Younger generation of Cochin GSBs have better command over Malayalam. A Good number of Cochin Konkanis have knowledge of Hindi. English is equally popular. Many GSBs of Cochin also understand Marathi as it is very close to Konkani.
There have been some efforts to develop Konkani, centred most around Cochin, but often they tend to be individual efforts. GSBs of Cochin by and large are indifferent to such efforts. T.D. High school of Cochin offers Konkani as third language. Konkani literature is insignificant save some poems and devotional songs.
Saraswat Brahmins are one of the most ancient tribes within Hindu society, retaining many of the ancient practices. Mainstream Brahmin community always had reservations against the Saraswat Brahmins for many Saraswat Brahmin customs were at odds with mainstream Brahmin traditions and observations, though no such basis can be traced to Hindu scriptures.
The post inquisition Saraswat Brahmin Diaspora experience is remarkably similar in wide areas where Saraswat Brahmins settled. The ruling elites were quick to realise the value of Saraswat Brahmin skills, whereas Social elite tried to undermine Saraswat Brahmins through persistent litigation and smear campaign. The saraswat experience in Kerala was no different.
Kerala society of yesteryears practised a very rigid form of caste system; The sudden appearance of Saraswat Brahmins in large numbers triggered two different and somewhat opposite reactions from elites of Kerala society. The ruling elites welcomed Saraswat Brahmins and granted many rights to them. The Saraswat Brahmins were gifted prime real estate properties to build their temples, they were allowed to build brick houses, and were even given right to collect taxes in many localities. Most of the saraswat Brahmin temples stand on properties gifted by Kshatriya and Nair elite.
The social elite consisting of different indigenous Brahmin sects viewed Saraswat Brahmins in a different light. At the highest level, Saraswat Brahmins belonged to Panch gauda as opposed to the indigenous Brahmins who were part of Panch Dravida group. The Saraswat Brahmins entered Cochin by sea, something which was a taboo in those days. The non vegetarian diet of Saraswat Brahmins constituted probably the most contentious issue. Finally, the saraswat Brahmins did not have any reservations against having a professional partnership with the Europeans in matters commercial. The Saraswat Brahmins thus represented a type of alien Brahminhood which was in total conflict with the Brahmin prototype prevalent in Kerala. Notwithstanding all the above, the Kerala Brahmin opposition to Saraswat Brahmin was not a knee jerk reaction, but a gradual one spread over a long period of time.
The as Western civilisation took root in Kerala soil, the kerala Brahmins, fearful of losing their exclusivity, started moving to remote parts of the Kerala state. The Saraswat Brahmins with more liberal attitudes towards Westerners stayed behind to take advantage of the commercial opportunities. The local Brahmins viewed this as guilt by association. The expansion European power and commerce brought staggering success to the Saraswat Brahmins and jealousy among sections of native population. The influential Tulu faction, who had a history of disputes with Saraswat Brahmin in Tulu Nadu, also worked towards denying Saraswat Brahmins many privileges rightly due to them. The Saraswat Brahmins, thus, did not really become part of the larger Brahmin community, preferring to maintain autonomy and entrepreneur activities at the expense of integration leading to some sort of social stigma.
Two centuries of introverted life has somewhat taken a toll on the Cochin GSBs and has deprived the community of social and linguistic skills required to thrive in a state which has a different social structure than the state in which they have their roots. It has resulted in a community which is essentially introverted which internalises its energies, and is not integrated completely with the mainstream of Kerala society. Till some years ago, GSBs were caricatured in popular media. Even though such caricaturing is not in fashion any more, stereotyping of GSBs still persists, albeit with less intensity.
Cochin GSBs have adapted vegetarianism in order to be accepted as Brahmins by Kerala society, this distinguishes them from rest of the southern Saraswats. The Cochin GSB cuisine is therefore vegetarian which retains many Goan characteristics. The main staple is rice and lentils (dal). This is supplemented with vegetables, Ambat, Gussi, Valval, Humann, etc. are some traditional GSB gravies. Cochin GSBs prepare a variety of rice pancakes (Dosas) and dumplings (idlis). Santhan (a flat steamed rice dumpling) and Hittu (pyramid shaped steamed rice dumpling wrapped in sachet made of jack fruit leaves) is unique to Cochin GSB cuisine. Pathrode is another GSB delicacy which is made of colocasia leaves and rice.
Cochin GSBs are Vaishnavites following Dwaita school of Madhwacharya and are followers of Kashi Mutt which traces origins to Kumbhakonam Math.
The Cochin GSB life revolves around their temples, there are about 35 of them in south/central Kerala. Annual festival of the temple is an occasion of great celebration among Cochin GSBs, diwali is also celebrated with great enthusiasm. UgadiGanesh Chaturti, etc. are other festivals celebrated by the Cochin GSBs. Some GSB gramas celebrate Ukuli. Cochin GSBs have great devotion to Tirupati Balaji. Presiding deity of most GSB temples is Balaji. GSBs are also devoted to Narasimha.
The GSBs of Cochin are enthusiastic pilgrims. Tirupati is the most popular destination. More and more are visiting pilgrim centres of North India. Goa and Karnataka also figure out in GSB pilgrim itenerary. Pandharpur which used be another popular pilgrimage destination, no longer enjoys the popularity it used to be in the past. Singing bhajans is very popular among Cochin GSBs,Marathi bhajans praising Vithoba being the most popular.
Unfortunately Sanskrit scholarship is non existent among Cochin GSBs. Cochin GSB priests are only competent in performing poojas, none of them are known to be vedic scholars. GSB priests officiate mainly in GSB temples and Households. Their services are also sought by expatriate north and western Indian communities. Community now faces acute shortage of priests, and this is has resulted in deterioration of observance in GSB temples. This, in addition to a variety of other factors, have conspired to make GSBs of southern Kerala flock to Malayali temples, a practice frowned upon few decades ago. Large number of GSBs visit pilgrim centres like Guruvayoor and Sabarimala, something unheard in the past.
Thanks to the Kerala government policy of spreading literacy, Cochin GSBs have a high literacy rate. The community now places a high premium on education. Commerce is the most popular discipline among Cochin GSBs. Chartered accountancy is highly regarded. Engineering is a sought after discipline; more and more GSBs are now pursuing Engineering degrees. In the past, Cochin GSBs boasted famous doctors in their ranks, but nowadays the number of Cochin GSBs pursuing a career in medicine has been reduced to a trickle. Few Cochin GSBs pursue liberal arts and languages other than Hindi.
In spite of being a small community, Cochin GSBs have made their contribution to educational field of Kerala. Prestigious Alleppuzha Medical college was founded by GSBs of Allapuzha. Padiyar College of Homeopathy is yet another GSB venture. Many GSB temples run schools. T.D.School of Cochin is the first co educational institute of Kerala. Cochin T.D temple also manages a teachers training centre. There is another T.D.School in Allapuzha which is run by the Allapuzha T.D temple.
 Baliga, Bhaktha, Bhatt, Kamath, Kilikar, Kini, Mallya, Nayak, Pai, Padiyar, Prabhu, Shenoy, Sharma, Rao etc. are common surnames among Cochin GSBs. Some Bhat families have adapted the surname Vadhyar while some use Mallan instead of Mallya. Recently, certain families have adopted the surname Mallaya (instead of Mallan). Kilikar, Sharma and Rao are surnames adapted by Cochin GSBs. Generally Cochin GSBs do not add name of their village to their name like Karnataka GSBs. Adding name of their Tharavadu is a Malayali custom adapted by some Cochin GSBs. Large of number of Cochin GSBs have added father's first name to their given names and dropped surnames altogether.

Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin

Chitrapur Saraswats are a small Konkani-speaking community of Hindu Brahmins in India who trace their genealogy to the Kashmiri Pandits. They call themselves Bhanaps in the Konkani language.  Although Kavle Math of Ponda or the Shri Gaudapadacharya Math predates it, and is known as the Adi Math of all Saraswats, the Chitrapur Math, located in the village of Shirali, in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka is the primary autonomous religious institution of the Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin community. With its line of Gurus (or Guru Parampara), the Chitrapur Math is a vital link that holds together the widely scattered units of the community. The community members are adherents of Smartism and the Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Adi Sankara. The Chitrapur Math is traditionally affiliated to the Sringeri Sharada Peetham. Lord Shiva in the form of Bhavanishankar is the patrondeity of the Chitrapur Math. The present pontiff of the Chitrapur Math is His Holiness Sadyojat Shankarashram Swami III.

There are various etymologies of the word Saraswat. One refers to "offspring of Saraswati", the goddess of learning, applied usually to learned and scholarly people. It may also denote the residents of the Saraswati river basin. The Brahmins of this region who are referred to as Saraswats in the Mahabharata and Puranas were learned in Vedic lore. 
The origins of the Saraswat Brahmin community who now hail from the west coast of India, especially from the North and South Kanara Districts of Karnataka are not known. Various conjenctures include a connection with Kashmir and Bengal or Gaudpradesh. 
Islamic intolerance and forced religious conversion in Kashmir, started following the devastation wrought by Zulju, a Mughal general from Turkmenistan, in 1320. The Sayyid Dynastyruled Kashmir from 1339 to 1561 CE and during this period Islam was firmly established in Kashmir.  Persecution of Hindus, razing of Hindu Temples, and forced conversion was worst under the rule of Sikandar Butshikan, the second Sultan of the Sayyid Dynasty of Kashmir from 1389 to 1413 CE.  This caused Saraswats to migrate from Kashmir. The religious freedom, lush vegetation, rich soil, and patronage of the rulers drew Saraswat Brahmins migrants to the west coast of India and especially to Goa. 

The Saraswats worshipped the deities they brought with them from the North. These were 'Mahan Girish' or MangueshiShakti or Shanta Durga,VishnuGanesh and Surya. They form the 'Panchayatan', or five deities, sacred to all Saraswats. 
Saraswats were in all the kingdoms of the western coast under different dynasties right from 6th century AD. KadambaRashtrakutaHoysala,Chalukya Shilahara and Vijayanagara kings had given important posts to Saraswats. There were ministers, administrators, accountants, treasurers, ambassadors, and foreign language-interpreters among them. They adopted the spoken language of Goa — Konkani. 
The Portuguese traders who arrived in the early 16th century were followed by Christian missionaries. This led to the Goa Inquisition between 1560 and 1812 CE.  Religious persecution of Saraswat Brahmins in particular, and their forced conversion to Christianity took place in Goa with the patronage of Portuguese government. A few Saraswats were converted to Christianity by smearing beef on their lips or putting beef into their wells, resulting in their being foolishly ostracised by the rest of the community. Many other Saraswats converted to Christianity to avoid persecution and to prevent their lands being confiscated by the Portuguese. These are the origins of the "Brahmin Catholics" among the Goan Catholics today. 
Saraswat families in large numbers, preferred to leave Goa with their family deities. These Saraswats settled down in the adjoining more tolerant principalities. New temples came up in the coastal districts of Karnataka for Saraswat deities. When conditions improved in Goa and forced religious conversion ceased, the deities were taken back to newly constructed temples in Goa in completely new sites as the original sites were occupied by Portuguese churches. 
Saraswats held important posts under Keladi or Nagar rulers. Many families who emigrated from Goa settled down in smaller towns and villages in Shimoga, South and North Kanara Districts. Those who settled in North Kanara were known as 'Badags' and those who settled in South Kanara were known as 'Tanks'. Both have their own variations in dialect and culture. Saraswats were the first beneficiaries of English education introduced in 1840 AD. 
The number of Chitrapur Saraswats stands at 22,498 according to Kanara Saraswat Association's 2001 census, up 7 per cent from 20,932 in 1971. The 0–19 age group has shrunk from 33 per cent to 18 per cent and the 20–44 age group has also gone down from 38 per cent to 34 per cent.