Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin

Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin
Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin
चित्रापुर सारस्वत ब्राह्मण
Deepika Padukone (face).jpgShyam Benegal.jpg
Girish Karnad Screening Cornell.JPGPrakash Padukone at the Tata Open championship.JPG
Nandan M. Nilekani.jpg
Deepika Padukone‎ • Shyam Benegal
Girish Karnad‎ • Prakash Padukone
Amrita Rao • Isha Koppikar
Anant Nag • Nandan Nilekani
Total population
22,498(2001 census)
Regions with significant populations
Mumbai, Bangalore, Mangalore, Chennai, Pune




Chitrapur Saraswats (Konkani: चित्रापुर सारस्वत) are a small Konkani-speaking community of Hindu Brahmins in India who ethnically trace their genealogy to the Kashmiri Pandits. They call themselves Bhanaps (Konkani: भानप) in the Konkani language.[1] 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 patron deity of the Chitrapur Math. The present pontiff of the Chitrapur Math is His Holiness Sadyojat Shankarashram Swami III.



The meaning of the word 'Saraswat' has more than one origin. One refers to 'offspring of Saraswati', the Goddess of learning applied usually to learned and scholarly people. It may also denote the residents of Saraswati river basin. The Brahmins of this region who are referred to as 'Saraswats' in Mahabharata and Puranas were learned in Vedic lore.

There 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 Turkish general from Turkmenistan, in 1320. The Sayyid Dynasty ruled Kashmir from 1339 to 1561 CE for nearly 222 years. During the rule of this dynasty 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.

Lord Parshurama with Saraswat Brahmin settlers commanding Lord Varuna to make the seas recede .

The Saraswats worshipped the deities they brought with them from the North. These were 'Mahan Girish' or Mangueshi, Shakti or Shanta Durga, Vishnu, Ganesh 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. Kadamba, Rashtrakuta, Hoysala, 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 who arrived with the intent of proselytizing at all costs. This soon led to the infamous Goa Inquisition from 1560 to 1812 CE. Religious persecution of Saraswat Brahmins in particular, and their forced conversions 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 ostracized 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 State. 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.

Formation of the Chitrapur Saraswat community

The Bhanaps and Chitrapur Math

Chitrapur Saraswats who migrated to Karnataka at the time of the Muslim invasion in the 15th century were mostly the educators and administrators. This migrant group moved a little inland to North and South Kanara. Their intelligence, honesty and generations-old experience as administrators, allowed some of them to secure prominent positions as administrators in the courts of the Hindu rulers of the time. One such Hindu king of the Keladi Nayaka kingdom, was so impressed by the integrity, diligence and skills of his Saraswat administrator, that he decreed that each village in his kingdom, be administered by a Saraswat. Eventually these Saraswats took on the name of the village as their last name.

Although the Chitrapur Saraswats were respected as an intelligent, learned and progressive community they were under threat of de-recognition as true Brahmins by the State, due to the absence of a living Spiritual Guru. The community, found it necessary to urgently seek a spiritual preceptor for their community. In keeping with their original roots, and the favored religion of the State, they were given a few days to find a Smartha Sanyasi from Kashmir.

After fasting and praying for several days at Gokarna, they finally came upon a Kashmiri Sanyasi on pilgrimage. They pleaded with the Kashmiri Saraswat Sanyasi, Parijananasharma Swami, to become their Guru. He consented to guide the community and established a new Math for them in Gokarn in 1708 AD. The people of Gokarn sent letters to the laity residing in Mangalore and Vithal notifying them about their Guru who would tour the south to giving sermons and granting blessings.

The State required the Sringeri Shankaracharya Math pontiff in the Kanara district to approve and validate the new Guru. This wish was granted. Thus, Parijnanashram Swami became the first Guru of the community. In 1739 AD, the ruler Basavappa Nayaka II donated land in Gokarn to build a Math in reverence to their primary deity, Shri Bhavanishankar.

Parijnanashram Swami's successor Shankarashram Swami attained Samadhi at Chitrapur, on his way to Gokarn, in 1757 AD. There was urgent need for a place to establish the Samadhi of Shankarashram Swami at Chitrapur, Shirali, and none was available. The Karta (Head) of the Nagarkatti family donated all the extensive land and buildings owned by the Nagarkatti family to establish the Chitrapur Math. Overnight the entire extended family living on the property moved out to make place for the Samadhi. As recognition for this munificent act, till this date, first rights to the Aarti at Chitrapur Math belong to any Nagarkatti family member who is present.

This Chitrapur Math with its vast lands and buildings remained the principal Math and residence of the Chitrapur Saraswat Pontiffs thereafter. Those Kanara Saraswats who swear allegiance to the Chitrapur Math, its Pontiff, and pay the annual vantiga (financial contribution) are known as the Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins.

During British rule in Kanara, many members of this Chitrapur community served as temple administrators in the villages of South and North Kanara. Due to their exceptional intelligence, natural scholarship, progressive outlook and the enterprise born out of an immigrant mind set, the Chitrapur Saraswats took to English education earlier than all other communities in Kanara and came to dominate in the Indian Civil Service under the British in these two Kanara districts. Many also became lawyers and solicitors often dominating the legal profession in the Kanara districts.

They were able to obtain key jobs at the district offices and the Collector’s offices in Mangalore, Honavar, Dharwad and Karwar. They were also employed as administrators in the cotton and textile export industry in Kumta, Hubli and Dharwad.

Chitrapur Saraswats were more inclined to educate their children than Gauda Saraswats who were traders, landlords and agriculturists. By the close of the 19th century the Chitrapur Saraswats were an educationally advanced community. The cotton boom resulting from the American Civil War (1863–64) helped them secure positions in cotton business and industry at Kumta, Hubli, Dharwar and later Bangalore.

The railway headquarters at Dharwar shifted to Madras and with that many Chitrapur Saraswats reached Madras. Their education helped them to establish themselves in Bombay and Madras in administrative positions, both in government and private companies.

Bombay soon became the center of Education and Commerce in Western India and by the late 19th Century, many Chitrapur Saraswats made their way to Bombay to improve their educational, professional and economic life. As more of them migrated to Bombay, they were among the first to cluster there in well organized community enclaves. Rao Bahadur S.S Talmaki originated the concept of co-operative housing societies in India and developed the first co-operative housing society, "Talmaki Wadi".

The members of Chitrapur Brahmin community speak a form of Konkani, an Indo-Aryan language that is descended from the Middle Indic Prakrits and is written in five scripts. The Konkani language binds the members of this small group in a way that is unique and distinct. Amongst themselves, they refer to their mother-tongue as "amchigele" meaning of "our own" and the people as "amchis". Bhanap scholars have noted that the community continued to become increasingly confined within their own Chitrapur Saraswat group as time passed, due to Endogamy with matrilateral cross cousin marriages being religiously sanctioned and approved.

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 an alarming low of 18 per cent and the 20-44 age group has also gone down from 38 per cent to 34 per cent.


The Chitrapur Saraswat community has a unique culture, religious customs drawn from the Chitrapur Math at Shirali, distinctive dialect(s) of Konkani, and a wide nutritious variety of coastal vegetarian cuisine based on rice and rich in coconut, cashew, greens, mangalore-melon, and a range of bananas. Most Chitrapur Saraswat surnames represent the hamlets or villages of origin while other surnames reflecting their Brahmin origin or honorifics and appointments given in the past to a particular branch of the family.

The community with extraordinarily high literacy rates extended beyond Karnataka into other areas such as Maharashtra and the principal cities of India. The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins were among the first Indian communities to aggressively seek education in the West, especially in England and the United States. While doing so, they successfully challenged and overcame the threat of the then Chitrapur Saraswat Pontiff, the orthodox Pandurangashram Swami, who at one stage threatened to ostracize all those who crossed the 'Kala Pani". After the mid 20th Century, in keeping with their immigrant traditions, a significant part of the highly intelligent and skilled community moved abroad, especially to the United States that encouraged talented and educated science professionals.

Notable people

Government & Community Leadership
  • Anuradha Paudwal: Playback singer for Marathi and Hindi films
  • Aditya Kalyanpur: Tabla Player
  • Bhaskar Chandavarkar: Music director, Sitar Player
  • Lalith Rao: Vocalist
  • Gourang Kodikal: Tabla Player
  • Nityanand Haldipur: Flautist
  • Sandhya Sanjana: Singer combining Indian Classical and World Jazz
  • Taranath Rao: Tabla Player
  • Yogesh Samsi: Tabla Player
  • Guru Dutt(Vasanth Kumar Shivshankar Padukone): film director, producer and actor
  • Sundar Rao Nadkarni, Indian film actor, editor, cinematographer and director. Directed Haridas which held the record for the longest continuously running Tamil film at a single theatre.
  • Shyam Benegal: film director
  • Suman Kalyanpur: Playback singer for Marathi and Hindi films
  • Girish Karnad: playwright, actor and director
  • Amrita Rao: Bollywood actor
  • Isha Koppikar: Bollywood actor
  • Deepika Padukone: Bollywood actor
  • Ananth Nag (Nagarkatti): Kannada-Marathi-Hindi film actor
  • Leena Chandavarkar: Hindi film actor
  • Kalpana Lajmi: film director
  • Shankar Nag (Nagarkatti): Kannada film actor
  • Radhika Pandit: Sandalwood actress

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Goud Saraswat Brahmin — ethnic group group = Goud Saraswat गौड़ सारस्वत ಗೌಡ ಸಾರಸ್ವತ್ ഗൌഡ് സാരസ്വത് poptime = 300,000 (approx) popplace = Primary populations in: *Goa *Maharashtra *Karnataka *KeralaPopulations in: *United Kingdom *United States *Arab States langs =… …   Wikipedia

  • Brahmin communities — in India are traditionally divided into two regional groups: Pancha Gauda Brahmins and Pancha Dravida Brahmins according to the following shloka found in the Rajatarangini of Kalhana (12th century): : sa. कर्णाटकाश्च तैलंगा द्राविडा महाराष्ट्रकाः …   Wikipedia

  • Chitrapur Guru Parampara — The Chitrapur Guru Parampara(Devanagariगुरु प्रंप्रा, or Guru Heritage of the Chitrāpur Sāraswat Brahmins is the lineage of spiritual teachers (gurus), also known as Mathadhipatis(Ma.t.hā of the Chitrāpur Math… …   Wikipedia

  • Chitrapur Math — Shri Chitrapur Math City Shirali State Karnataka Country India Philosophy Advaita Title Ashram …   Wikipedia

  • Saraswat cuisine — This article is part of the series …   Wikipedia

  • Brahmin — This article is about the social caste. For the moth family, see Brahmaeidae. For similarly spelled words, see Brahman (disambiguation). An article related to Hinduism …   Wikipedia

  • Daivadnya Brahmin — Daivajña Brahmins Philanthropist Jagannath Shankarshet of Mumbai Total population 800,000 (estimated) …   Wikipedia

  • Vishwakarma Manu Maya Brahmin — This article is about Vishwakarma community of Indian state of Rajasthan, Goa . For Iyengar title, see Iyengar. Vishwakarma Manu Maya is a Brahmin caste in India. Contents 1 History 2 Position in Goa 3 Religion …   Wikipedia

  • Konkani people — ethnic group group = Konkani people Konknni Lok कोंकणी लोक, ಕೊಂಕ್ಣಿ ಲೊಕ್ poptime = 7.6 million (approx) popplace = Primary populations in: *Goa *Maharashtra *Karnataka *KeralaPopulations in: *United Kingdom *United States *Arab States langs =… …   Wikipedia

  • Parijnanashram III — Infobox Hindu leader name= Swami Parijñānāshram III birth date= June 15,1947 birth place= Shirali,Karnataka birth name= Ravīndra Shankarnārāyan Shukla(Bhat) death date= August 29,1991 death place= Bangalore, Karnataka guru= Swami Ānandāshram… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”