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