Daivadnya Brahmin

Daivadnya Brahmin
Daivajña Brahmins
Jagannath Shankerseth.jpg
Philanthropist Jagannath Shankarshet of Mumbai
Total population
800,000 (estimated)
Regions with significant populations
Goa, Coastal and west Maharashtra, Coastal and central Karnataka

Populations in:

  • Kerala
  • Gujarat, Daman and Diu
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Arab States

Dialects of primarily Konkani and Marathi are spoken as the native tongues and are used for written communication.

Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam, Tulu, and Hindi may be sometimes spoken outside home.

English is commonly used for education and formal communication. Sanskrit is used for all religious purposes.


Brahminical Hinduism: Smarta or the Mādhva tradition

Related ethnic groups

Indo-Scythians, Indo-Aryans, Goud Saraswat Brahmin, Goan Catholics, Mangalorean Catholics, Karwari Catholics

The Daivajña Brahmins or Daivadnya Brahmins is an ethno-religious community and a Hindu Brahmin sub-caste of the west coast of India, predominantly residing in the states of Goa, coastal Karnataka, and coastal Maharashtra.Goa is considered the homeland of this tribe; they are believed to have flourished and prospered in Goa[1] and hence they are called Gomantaka Daivajña.[a] Due to many socio-economic reasons, they emigrated to different parts of India within the last few centuries.

They are commonly known as Śeṭ in the coastal region. The word Śeṭ is a corrupt form of the word Śreṣṭha or Śreṣṭhin,[2] which could mean excellent, distinguished, or superior.[3] Over time the word was transformed from Śreṣṭha to Śeṭ[4] Most of the older generation from the Daivajña community in Goa call themselves Śeṭī Bāmaṇ, which is a corrupt form of Śreṣṭhi Brāhmaṇa. The Portuguese referred these people as Xete (cf. Xett, Xete) or sometimes Chatim (cf. Xatim), which is now Cyātī in the Konkani language; the word was a Portuguese appellation for "trader" derived from the local word Śreṣṭhin.[5] Śeṭs are often called Daivajña Suvarṇakāra (cf. Svarṇakāra[l]). Daivajña Brāhmaṇa and Gomantaka Daivajña Brāhmaṇa are sometimes abbreviated as DB and GDB respectively.[citation needed]



A Shett gentlemen from Goa, from late 18th – early 19th century (Courtesy: Gomant Kalika, Nutan Samvatsar Visheshank, April 2002)

The word is written as दैवज्ञ in Devanāgarī and ದೈವಜ್ಞ in Kannaḍa. Different authorities spell the word differently. Some of the standard spellings are Daivadnya, Daivajnya,[6] Daivagna, Daiwadnya, and Daivadnea.[7] The word is pronounced [d̪aivaɡna] in Karnataka and [d̪əivaʝɲa] in Goa and Maharshtra.

Daiva jānati iti daivajñaḥ

is literally translated as "the one who knows the fate is Daivajña"[3] or "the one who knows about God is Daivajña",[3] and can be interpreted as the one who knows about the future is a Daivajña; or the one is well versed in Śilpaśāstra and can craft an idol of God is called a Daivajña.[8]

A person mastering the following eight fields is termed as Daivajña: Bhugolasthiti, Gaṇita Siddhānta, Horāśastra, Śakuna, Saṃhitā, Svaraśāstra, Sāmudrikā, and Śilpaśātras. According to Reginald Edward Enthoven, Daivajña is derived from Daiva (pertaining to God) and jña (to know).[9]

They are commonly referred to as Śeṭ. According to historians, they called themselves so in order to distinguish themselves from other groups who were of mixed origin, and they claimed superiority.[4] Members of the guilds of traders, merchants, and their employees who were mainly artisans, craftsmen, and husbandmen in ancient Goa were called Śreṇī, and the head of the guilds were called Śreṣṭh or Śreṣṭhī,[10] which means His Excellency.[11]

Old Portuguese documents mention them as Aria Daivadnea Orgon Somudai or Ārya Daivajña Varga Samudāya, transliterated as "Āryas belonging to the Daivajña community".[12] They were sometimes called Daivdneagotris.[13]

Sode maṭha and its pontiffs mention Daivajñas as Mukhamāsita Sūryavaṃśī Brahmins. The 33rd pontiff, Śrī Viśvādhīśa Tīrtha of Śrī Sode Vādirāja Maṭh, mentions them as Mukhamāsita Daivajña Sūrya Brahmins in his letter to the chieftain of Hosakeri village near Gokarṇa.[b]


Map of Vedic India

Historians believe that the Daivadnya originated with Iranian Sun- and Fire-worshipping priests, analogous to the Brahmins. These priests were mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures such as Bhaviṣya Purāṇa[c], Viṣṇūpurāṇa,[14] and Mahābhārata.[d] They are believed to have settled in Sāṃbapura[15] and Magadha. They crafted an idol of the sun god Surya; hence they are called Murtikāra.[16][17] They worshiped the idol with incense, garlands, and other things.[18] These sun-worshipper priests were also called Magas.[19] They married Bhoja women and were called Bhojakas.[18] The Magas hailed from Śhākadvipa, a part of ancient Scythia.[20] They spoke ancient Iranian[21][22][23] languages similar to the vedic Saṃskṛta, and were members of ancient Iranian[21] or Proto-indo European nomadic tribes called Śhāka.[24][25] Magas also styled themselves as Aṅgiras[25] as they belonged to the ancient tribe of the Aṅgirasas mentioned in Anuśāsana parva of Mahābhārata, Adhyaya 83.[26] They also seem to be connected to the Bhṛgus clan.[27] This group of pre-Aryans were not followers of the Vedic rituals, and were later included in the Vedic fold.

Historians Viṭhṭhala Mitragotrī (A socio-cultural history of Goa from the Bhojas to the Vijayanagara), Dr. Śrīdhara Veṅkaṭeśa Ketkara (Mahāraṣṭriya Jñanakoṣa, Part 1[28]), Paṇduraṅga Puruṣottama Śiroḍkara (Bhāratiya samājavighaṭaka jātivarṇa vyavasthā[29]), and Bā.Da.Sātoskar (Gomantaka:prakṛti āṇi sanskṛti, part 1) in their respective research state that Śeṭs are descendants of the Bhojakas and have inherited the art of crafting an idol from the Bhojakas. Bhojakas are also called Gaṇakas, which is synonymous with Daivajña. Daivajñas are descendants of Bhojakas, who migrated to Goa in the 4th or 6th century AD with a Kṣtriya tribe called Bhojas,[30][31] who were also called Chavadas. The Chavada, a tribe of warriors now known as Chaddi or Chaddo, migrated to Goa from Saurashtra in the 7th and 8th centuries, after their kingdom was destroyed by the Arabs (740 AD)).[32] They spoke Nagari Apabhramsha,[33] (which later evolved into modern Gujarati).[34]

According to another theory, the Bhojas arrived from Gauḍa Deśa in northern Kosala,[35] which was a part of the Magadha kingdom, and spoke Magadhi.Konkani pronunciations are similar to Bāṅglā pronunciations.[36](Most of the historians attribute the influence Magadhi on Konkani to the Maurya reing on Goa who used Magadhi as a language of administration).[37] The dialects and accent with which the Śeṭs of Goa speak, and their customs, are different from the other castes found in Goa.[38] Due to their assimilation with other cultures and races, their traits and practices have gradually been lost.

Chronology and history

Ancient history

The Vedas mention the Sarasvatī river where Vedic civilisation flourished. The people dispersed when the Sarasvatī river dried up, estimated by geologists to have occurred between 5000 and 3000 BC,[39] that is, before the Mature Harappan period. The Sarasvatī river, along with the Dṛṣadvati and Āpayā rivers, formed a delta called Brahmāvarta.[40] Paraśurāma is a mythological entity who is supposed to have created Sapta Koṅkaṇa.[41] According to Sahyādrikhaṇḍa of Skanda Purāṇa,[42] 96 Brahmin families belonging to ten gotras migrated to Goa from Brahmāvarta via Saurāṣṭra,[43] and settled in different Agrahāras (Brahmin streets or neighbourhoods). The Daivajñas came with Lord Paraśurāma in 2500 BC[44] to the south to assist other Brahmins to perform Yajñas, or ritualistic sacrifices,[e] and are believed to have settled in various Agrahāras with other Brahmins. Some scholars argue that this tribe migrated to Goa in the 4th to 6th century AD, some say 700 BC, and some estimate 2500 BC. Research by scholars like Dr Dharmānanda Kosambī[45] and Dr Bhāū Dājī Lāḍa[46] have concluded that there is no relation between Paraśurāma and the migration of the Brahmins. The Sahyādrikhaṇḍa is a later inclusion in the original Sanskrit Skanda Purāṇa, not a part of the original Sanskrit text.[47]

There are evidences of the Satavahanas performing vedic sacrifices in Goa in the 2nd century BC.It is quite possible that some of them settled in Goa during that time to assist the Brahmins to perform sacrifices.Though most of them seem to have settled in Goa after the 2nd century BC.[31] Though there were many groups engaged in jewellery trade in Goa before this period they do not seem to be a part of that group dwelling in Goa during that time.[31]

Many Vedic scholars like Veṅgaḍācārya[48] and Nārāyaṇaśastri Kṣirasāgara[49] relate the Daivadnya with the Vedic Rathakāra. Saṃskṛtā texts such as Jātiviveka,Saṅkha smṛti, and Añjabila state that they are one of the Rathakāras, called Upabrāhmaṇa, or minor Brahmins for whom vedic Saṃskāra are explicitly stated as mentioned in Śaivāgama.[clarification needed][50] The Hindu doctrines Hiraṇyakeśisutra and Bṛhajjātiviveka mention different types of Rathakāras. Most of them can be called Saṅkara Jāti or mixed caste, and their social status varies from that of a Brahmin to those considered fallen or degraded.[51] Modern scholars like Ad. Paṇduraṅga Puruṣottama Śiroḍkara[51] and Bā. Da. Sātoskar[52] disagree with this claim. Paṇduraṅga Puruṣottama Śiroḍkara states that if they are related to any Rathakāra tribe, they belong to the Rathakāra mentioned in the Ṛgveda, and not other Rathakāras, which are of impure descent.[51] Rathakāra is also identified with Tvaṣṭr, as mentioned in Ṛgveda (1.7.32). The progeny of Tvaṣṭr are called Rathakāra in the Medini Koṣa Ṛgveda (1.7.32). They seem to have formed an industrial population in ancient Vedic society, and were associated with the worship of celestial beings such as Ṛbhus.[53] Their origins could be found in the ancient Ṛgvedic tribe Anu.[54] who worshiped the Ṛbhus.[55] The Ṛbhus are mentioned as belonging to the race of Aṅgiras:[56] Ṛbhus are the sons of Sudhanvā and grandsons of the sage Aṅgiras.[57] Indologist Enthoven, in his book The Tribes and Castes of Bombay, mentions that this clan is related to Tvaṣṭar and the semi-divine beings in the Ṛgveda and the Atharvaveda called the Ṛbhus.[9] Tvaṣṭar was the grandfather of Maga and the Svāyambhuva Manu[m].[24] Tvaṣṭar is often compared with the Viśvakarman; they are two different entities in the holy Vedas. The Daivajñas are often confused by the authorities with Viśvakarmā castes,[58] but they are not part of nor are they connected to any of the Viśvakarmā castes in western India.[58]

Oral tradition[g] of some of the Daivajna clans say that they came from Gauḍa Deśa with their Kuldevatās (family deities). There is no written evidence to support this traditional belief. Some sub-groups of Brahmins from West Bengal and Assam were referred to as Śreṣṭhas and Daivajñas;[59] they are believed to have migrated from Śhākadvipa[60] and are commonly known as Graha Vipra and Ācārya Brahmins in West Bengal. Records maintain that these groups migrated from Assam or Kāmarupa and Gauḍa from the beginning of the ninth or tenth century.[61] Sahyādrikhaṇḍa mentions groups of fallen or degraded Brahmins who migrated south from Gauḍa Deśa and Magadha, but it does not mention the reason why the Brahmins were degraded.[62]

Pandurang Nagendra Nagvekar, the president of Gomantak Marathi Academy, relates them to the ancient Naga people in his research. The worship of deities like Nagesh and ant-hills in the form of Santeri or Mahamaya by some clans; village names like Nagavhayi; their roots in those villages; and ancient texts found in Goa like Nagavhay Mahatmya links them to the Naga culture as per his research.[63]

Regardless of which of these theories is accurate, there is much historical evidence that many migrations have happened to Goa from Gujarat (especially from Prabhas and Dwarka in Saurashtra). They had a close affiliation with the Bhojas, who belong to the Yadavas of Gujarat. The deity Somnath was popular in Goa in days of yore, which emphasises the ties with Gujarat.[64] This deity is also worshiped by a few Daivajna clans.

The Magas, Aṅgiras, Bhṛgus, and the modern day Daivajñas

Indologists like Dr Ghurye have concluded that the Magas and the Aṅgiras are the same,[25] and they are Proto-Indo-Europeans who reached India before the Indo-Aryans.[25] Vedic society was divided into three races: the Aṅgiras, the Bhṛgus, and the others.[25] These three groups later intermarried,and thus all the Brahminical Gotra Ṛṣis belonging to Aṅgira and Bhṛgus linage were born.[25] The Magas are considered the ancestors of the Aṅgiras, and from these Magas, who married the Bhojaka women, modern-day Daivajñas have descended.[25] Magas are not different from the Indo-Aryans, but their period of migrations differs.[25] According to Indologist Damodar Dharmananda Kosambi, Tvaṣṭr was a deity who belonged to the clan of the Bhṛgus and existed before the Vedic era.[65] This claim is disputed by many.

Sumerian affiliations

Several waves of migrations of Indo-Aryan speakers have occurred in the history of Goa. The first wave of Indo-Aryans might have arrived around 2400 BC, and the second wave in the period 1000–700 BC.[66] Most of them spoke Indo-Aryan Prakrit vernacular languages, akin to Vedic Sanskrit.

The Sumerians had trade contacts with India dating from 2100 BC. Many Sumerians settled in Goa and Konkan, arriving by sea. The period of Sumerian migration started about 2000 BC, after the first wave of Indo-Aryan speakers settled in Goa.[66] The advent of the Sumerians influenced Goan social and community life, and the language. Many local customs were modified.[67] A group of Phoenician Sumerian seafarers came to Goa around 1775 BC, influencing their customs by intermixing with the natives.

Goan anthropologist and historian Ananta Rāmakṛṣṇa Śeṇavī Dhume claims that Goan Śeṭs are descendants of ancient Sumerian colonists.[66] The Sumerians are credited with introducing temple building and the village communities known as the Comunidade, which are not found elsewhere in India. Dhume suggests that the architecture of some of the temples the Śeṭs are associated with are built in Sumerian style.[66][68] Sumerian cuneiform inscriptions have been found in Goa. Dhume gives many examples of how Sumerian language influenced the native Goan tongue and how the language still retains many Sumerian features and words.

Medieval and modern history


According to Viṭhṭhala Mitragotrī, the migration to Goa dates back to the early 4th to 6th century AD.[31] Bā.Da.Sātoskār suggests that they are a part of the Sārasvata tribe and reached Goa around 700 BC. From 1352 to 1366 AD Goa was ruled by Khiljī. In 1472, the Bahāmanī Muslims attacked, demolished many temples, and forced the Hindus to convert to Islam. To avoid this religious persecution, several Śeṭ families fled to the neighbourhood kingdom of Sondā.[69][70] Several families from western India had settled down in Kashi since late 13h century.[71]

In 1510 the Portuguese invaded Goa. King John III of Portugal issued a decree threatening expulsion or execution of non-believers in Christianity in 1559 AD; the Daivajñas refused conversion and had to decamp. Thousands of Daivajña families fled to the interior of Maharashtra and coastal Karnataka.[72] About 12,000 families from the Sāsaṣṭī region of Goa (from Rāy, Kuṅkalī, Loṭalī, Verṇe and other places), mostly of the Śeṇavīs and the Śeṭs, including Vaiśyas, Kuṇbīs, and others, departed by ship to the southern ports of Honnāvara to Kozhikode.[72][73] A considerable number of the Śeṭs from Goa settled in the Ṭhāṇe district of Maharashtra, especially the Tansa River valley, after the Portuguese conquest of Goa.[74] the Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Kola'ba and Janjira, volume 11 published in the year 1883, mentions that Śeṭ families had migrated from Goa to Kolābā and Jañjīrā about 300 years prior.[75]

Portuguese period

Daivajnas and Christianity

The Portuguese imposed heavy restrictions on all Goan Hindus, but the Śeṭs were granted exemption from certain obligations or liabilities. It is rare to find a Christian Goan Śeṭ, while all the other castes find some representation in the convert society;[76] this is because the economic power the Śeṭs wielded in the sixteenth century enabled them to live and work in Goa on their own terms or emigrate with their religion intact.[76] Their commercial knowledge and skills were held in high esteem by the Portuguese;[76] because of the protection the Portuguese gave them, they had a little religious freedom.[10] For example, they were permitted to wear the horizontal Vibhutī caste-mark on the forehead, and were even exempted from punishment when they committed crimes.[10] The very few who converted were assigned the caste of Bamonn among the Goan Catholics.[77] According to the gazetteer of Goa state they are called Catholic Śeṭs,[78] but no such distinction is found amongst Goan Catholics. A detailed study of Comunidades[h] shows that baptised Śeṭs were categorised as Bamonns.[77] A few historians have categorised them into the category of Sudirs or Śudras because the appellation they used, Chatim, was sometimes used by the lower castes. Whether Hindu or Catholic, the community always enjoyed their social status, and were permitted to remain in Christianized parts of Goa, provided they kept a low profile, observed certain disciplines, and paid a tax of three xeraphims of (gold mohor) annually to the Portuguese.[79]

A few Daivadnya families who converted to Catholicism migrated to Mangalore due to attacks by the Marathas in Goa during the late 17th and early 18th century.[80][81] These families still use the title Śeṭ.[82] The Saldanha-Shet family is one of the well known Konkani Catholic families from Mangalore.[83]

Relationships with other communities

There always has been some sort of antagonism rivalry between the Śeṭs and the Gaud Sārasvat Brahmins of Goa.[84] The trade in Goa was mainly hands of three classes, viz, the Śeṭs, the Gaud Sārasvat Brahmins and the Vānīs.[85] The root cause of this rivalry seems to be in the competition and jealousy between the traders of the two groups for hundreds of years, which still exists but may be not in its strict form. The Gaud Sārasvat Brahmins look down upon the Daivajña and called them non-Brahmins.Daivajnas on the other hand called the Sarasvats as fishermen and scoffers and detested them.[84]These two rival groups never accepted water from the others hands until century back. 16th–17th century records mention conflicts between Śeṭs and Gaud Sārasvat Brahmins of Goa.The cause of this conflict was use of traditional emblems used by Brahmin and royal Kṣtriya families during religious rituals, functions and festivals, like Adbagira, Sūryapān, Chatra, Chāmara that symbolised high status in the Hindu society then.[86] The Sārasvat brahmins did not allow Daivajña processions to pass through their streets.[84]The verdict of the above conflict was in the favour of the Śeṭs.[86] The hatred was so severe until the 19th century, that only fear of the police kept the peace.Later the Portuguese banned the use of Hindu symbols and wedding,festival processions.[86] Śeṭs were one of the building blocks of the comunidade system in Goa,[1] and actively participated in the temple Mahājani system. The Sārasvats brahmins deprived the Daivajnas as Mahājans of some of the temples because of the political power they once experienced.[87]

Another conflict between Daivajñas and Vaiśyas, in the year 1348 in Khāṇḍepār or Khaṭegrāma, is mentioned in Khāṇḍepār copperplate. This issue was solved in Gaṇanātha temple in Khāṇḍepār.[44][88]

Daivajñas in diaspora

Coming from a wealthy and prosperous background, the Śeṭs who had emigrated from Goa faced many hardships in diaspora.In the early 18th century, those had who migrated from Konkan to places like Pune were demeaned and tortured by the Peshwas, they did not have any sort of religious freedom, were divested of all priestly rites, those who performed religious rites and studied the Vedas were punished[89] and their tongues and Śikhās were cut off.[90] They were badly molested by them and tried to degrade them to a level of a shudras in an effort made by the members of the said group to be exclusively called Brahmins.[91]

Documents mention a Grāmaṇya[j] between the Daivajñas and the Chitpavan Brahmins. This dispute regarding social status and ritual privilege, lasted from 1822–1825.[92] The opponent Brahmins were against the Daivajñas administering Vedokta Karmas or Vedic rituals, they urged the British to impose legal sanctions, such as heavy fines to implement non-observance of Vedokta Karmas.[93] The Chitpavans denied their Brahmin claim, allegedly argued that they are not even entitled to Upabrāhmaṇa status which they are bestowed in the 'Śaivāgama.[94] Thus they claimed that latter were not entitled to Vedokta Karmas and should follow only Puraṇokta rites[92] and they were also against the Brahmins who performed Vedic rituals for the Daivajñas,[93] they incriminated that Daivajñas have an impurity of descent and have a mixed-caste status or Saṅkara Jāti.[95] Chitpavans even refused to listen to Sringeri Sharada Peetham Svāmī's order saying Daivajñas of Bombay are Brahmins and are entitled to Vedokta rites.[95] British issued orders to the Daivajñas by which the Vedas not be applied for an improper purpose,the purity of the Brahmin caste be preserved[96] and did not impose any restrictions on the Daivajñas.[95] This dispute almost took an pro-Daivajña stance in Bombay in 1834,[97] and were ordered to appoint the priests of their own Jāti and not Chitpavan priests.[96]

In 1849, the king of Kolhapur, Shahu Maharaj provided land grants to the Daivajñas who had migrated to princely states of Kolhapur and Satara and helped them build their hostels for the students pursuing education.[98]

Many families like the Murkuṭes,the Paṭaṇkars,[99] the Śeṭs of Kārvāra, Bhaṭkala still kept their tradition alive and excelled in trade and played a major role in socio-cultural development of the major metropolis of India like Mumbai.[87]

The Daivajña priests who used to officiate at the Gokarṇa Mahābaleśvara temple,were legally prosecuted by the Havyaka Brahmins of Gokarṇa with a view that the Daivajña Brahmins would take over the Pujā authority at Gokarṇa, filed a case against the Daivajña Brahmins at Kumta court (22.10.1927).The case from Kumta court reached Kārvāra, Bombay high court and the judicial decision was in favour of the Śeṭs.[100]

Modern period

Following liberation of Goa, many Goan Daivajña families migrated to Mumbai,[citation needed] and organised themselves into Gomantaka Daivajña Brāhmaṇa Samāja, which was founded in the year 1920,[citation needed] as estimated by the organisation there are more than 15,000 Goan Śeṭs in Mumbai.[citation needed] Few of them have even migrated to Pune and overseas.Akhīla Bharatiya Daivajña Samajonnati Pariṣat[101] already existed since 1908 for betterment of the kinsmen[87] and was founded by descendants of the native Śeṭs of Mumbai who had settled there within last few centuries.

.Following the Maratha rule many families from Maharashtra migrated to Madhya Pradesh.[citation needed]

Few Koṅkaṇe Daivajñas have even settled in Vapi, Dharampur, Valsad, Daman and other few places in the state of Gujarat.[102][103]

Similarly, about 3500 Śeṭs migrated to Beṅgalūru city after 1905 from Dakṣiṇa Kannaḍa.[104] Many families have migrated to Mumbai and have founded organisations like Kanara Daivajña Association,[105] Daivajña Śikṣṇa Maṇḍala[106] etc.Śimogā, Cikkamagaluru, Koḍagu, Davaṇgere, Hubballī-Dhārvāḍa districts of Karnataka have a considerable Daivajña population now.[72]

Śeṭs have also migrated abroad. They are found in the Arab countries[107] and have been migrating overseas in pursuit of higher education and employment for number of years now specially, the United states of America and England.[105] Very few of them are official citizens of Portugal[107] and Kenya.[108] A small fraction of them are also found in Karachi,Lahore[109] Pakistan, but most of them have settled as refugees in Ulhasnagar after partition.[105]

Anthropological classification

Daivajna Lady from Mumbai,19th century

Studying their features,customs and rituals, some historian and anthropologists have opined that this tribe or community is an amalgam of two or more tribes – as their traits and traditions cannot be attributed to a single tribe.[44] Texts maintain that Bhojakas entered into matrimonial alliances with the local population[110] and later mingled with non-Brahmins.[110] They were looked down upon by other Brahmins[111] in the days of yore – maybe because of these reasons.[44]

A schematic classification of Indian races was attempted by Sir H.H. Risley in 1886–1888, on the basis of physical characters based on anthropometric measurements. His results indicated that most of the races occurring on the west coast of India extending from Gujarat to Coorg are of Scytho-Dravidian origin.[112] Scytho-Dravidian people exhibit the following physical characteristics: fair complexion, dark brown to black wavy to curly hair, hair on face rather scanty, medium to broad head, eyes dark in colour, medium stature, nose moderately medium and not conspicuously long.[112] S. S. Sarkar classifies this group of people as Indo-Scythians.[113] Daivajñas are classified as mescocephals or the medium-headed ones,[114] characterised by smaller to medium noses and smaller circumference of head.[115] As per Iravati Karve, their average cephalic index is 74.2.[115] Mescocephals follow Indo-Aryans in their wake and most of their ethnic strain is due to the Irano-Scythians.[116] As Enthoven points out, the features of Śeṭs (fair skin, middle-sized, delicate) closely resemble to those of Indo-Scythians or Scytho-Dravidians.[117] The Bhojakas, who are believed to be their predecessors, also have Scythian roots.

Micheal Edwards, in his book History of India from the earliest times to the present day, claims that the Maga or the Bhojakas are Sumerians. This cannot be ascertained unless detailed genealogical DNA study is done to trace their ethnic origin.


Daivajnas follow Brahminical Hinduism,adherents of Vedic rites,and worshipers of both Vedic and Puranic Deities.Though they revere folk deities. Daivadnya Brahmins from Konkan are Rigvedi Brahmins. Shri Parashurama is worshiped as a founder (Mool Purush) by many Daivadnya Brahmin families in Konkan region.


Daivajñas are predominantly Devi (Goddess) worshippers.[118]Pañcāyatana pujā – a concept of worshipping God in any of the five forms, namely Shiva, Devi, Ganesha, Vishnu and Surya, that was propagated by Adi Shankara (8th century) is observed by Daivajñas today. Daivajñas worship the Pañcāyatana deities with Devi or Shiva as the principle deity. A possible Pañcāyatana set may be: Shantadurga, Shiva, Lakshminarayan (Vishnu with his consort Lakshmi), Ganesha and Surya. Pañcāyatana may also include guardian deities like Ravalnath, Bhutanath, Kala-Bhairava, Kshetrapala and deities like Gramapurusha.[118]

Most of the Daivajña diaspora in the coastal track of Karanataka up to the end of Kerala – follow the Vaishnavism. They worship Vishnu and Lakshmi as their prime deities and have established many temples of Vishnu in the form of Lakshminarayan, Krishna, Narasimha and Vithoba.[119] However, their Kuladevatas (family deities) in Goa are Shaiva – the sect centred on Shiva.[2]


Kuladevata is the hereditary or family deity and usually is Shiva,Devi or Vishnu. Each Daivajña family has its own family god or goddess. Daivajñas usually have their family deity temples in Goa, very few were shifted to neighbouring states of Karnataka and Maharashtra during inquisition period. Daivajña families usually make a pilgrimage to the Kuladevata temple to attain blessing of the god during festivals and after an auspicious occasion such as a wedding. Many Daivajña families in Maharashtra stopped worshipping their Goan Kuldevatas in the course of time, due to many obliterative socio-cultural reasons, and have started worshipping regional deities like Khandoba, Ambabai, Ekavira and Jyotiba.

Their tutelary deities are in the form of the Mother Goddess related to the Shakta cult though they revere all Vedic, Puranic and folk deities equally.[2]

They worship different aspects of Devi such as[70][120]:

as well as Śiva in the forms of[120]:


In olden days,most of them worshipped their respective Kuladevata as their Gramadevata too, the name of their clans suggest they always resided in the village or city where their deity temple existed.[121] However as they migrated from their ancestral villages and in turn to other states,they started worshipping the presiding deity of their village or city of residence as their Gramadevata and continued to worship their original Kuladevatas.


Ishta-devata is a term denoting a worshipper's favourite deity.[122] Ganesha is ishta-devata of all the Śeṭs. Ganesh Chaturthi or Siddhivināyaka Vrata is a major festival of the Daivajñas.

Kalika, Kansarpal,Goa – is worshipped as Ishta-devata by Gomantaka Daivajñas. This temple is more than 800 years old and is located at a distance of around 14 kilometres from Mapusa. It was built by Kadambas and was renovated by a Daivajña minister who was serving Sawant Bhonsale – kings of Sawantwadi, Maharashtra. It is one of the most important temples in the northern part of Goa. The main festivals celebrated in this temple are Śiśirotsava, Navrātrī, Rathasaptamī, Āvalībhojana and Vasantapujā.[12][123][124]

Other Ishta-devata of Daivajñas include Rama, Dattatreya[2]Hanuman,[2] Vithoba of Pandharpur, Hayagriva of Udupi, Mahalakshmi, Krishna, Gayatri, Durgā Parameśvarī, Lakshmi-narayan, Mañjunātha of Dharmasthala and Gokarṇa Mahābaleśvara. Daivajñas maintain several temples in Goa, and about 38 temples in North Canara district of Kanarataka,[125] and many temples in other parts of Karantaka, Maharashtra and few in the state of Kerala.

Daivajñas also honour various saints like Raghavendra Swami, Narasimha Saraswati, Swami Samarth Maharaj, Sai Baba of Shirdi and Maṅkipura Svāmī.

Maṭha tradition and Saṃpradāyas

The Smārta sect

  • Śeṭs of Goa,[126][127] Maharashtra and some parts of Karnataka follow the Smṛtis to abide by the religious rules hence called Smārta[128] i.e. the followers of the Smṛtis. They were followers of Śṛngerī maṭha[6] like Draviḍa Brahmins.[2] Śrī Madhvacārya, the promoter of Dvaita philosophy, during his return journey from North India visited Goa in 1294. Most of them refused to get converted,[129] and very few of them adopted Mādhvadharma.[2][126][130] However Mādhvas, only by tradition they became Bhāgavatas, continued the worship of Śaiva or Śākta deities,[131] Vaiṣṇava Daivajñas are not found in Goa now as they had fled to other states during Inquisition.
  • Due to some unavoidable conflicts between the two sects in the community a new maṭha was established in Honnāvara, in North Canara district. The maṭha is called as Jñāneśavarī Pīṭha[132] and is headed by Śrī Śrīmad Bhāratī Tīrtha Svāmī of Śṛngerī Śrī Śārada Pīṭha's disciple or Śiṣhya,Śrī Śrīmad Satcidānanda Jñāneśavara Bhāratī Mahāsvāmī for spiritual and religious betterment of the community.[133]

The Vaiṣṇava or Mādhva sect

  • The Daivajña diaspora in North Canara, Uḍupi, South Canara and Kerala, who had migrated from Goa due to Arab and Portuguese invasions, were influenced by Śrī Vādirāja Tīrtha[134] and adopted Vaiṣṇavism.[2][130][135][136] History says that a Daivajña named Gopalaśeṭī was sculpting a Gaṇeaśa idol, but it took form of a horse or Hayagrīva, he offered that idol to Vādirāja Tīrtha, the pontiff of Sode maṭha, who later expanded his sphere of influence by taking all the Daivajñas of north Canara into the fold of his Vaiṣṇavism by extending to them dīkṣa and mudra.[2][134][137][138] This idol of lord Hayagrīva is still worshipped by the pontiffs of Sode maṭha and by their Śeṭ followers.
  • Gazetteer of the Bombay presidency-Kanara district, 1883, volume 15, part 1 mentions the following about the Vaiṣṇava counterpart:
    ....whose original temple is at Māḍḍol, they also worship the ordinary brahmin and village deities and keep local holidays.They are Vaiṣṇavas and have as their teacher Śrī Vādirāja Svāmī, the head of the Vaiṣṇava monastery of Uḍupi in South Kanara.They pay him large sums which are Gurukāṇike or presents to the teacher, and in return have their breasts and shoulders marked with hot metal seals bearing Viṣṇu's the Śaṅkha or conch, the Cakra or disc, the Gadā or mace and Padma or lotus. Their boys are gifted with the sacred thread.[139]
  • The 36th pontiff in the lineage Viśvavallabha Tīrtha Svāmī initiated into Sanyasa by Śrī Viśvottama Tīrtha Svāmī is the present guru of the maṭha and their religious teacher.[140]

Ancestral worship

Daivajñas have a unique system of ancestral worship, the Mūlapuruṣa or the creator of the clan is worshipped in the form of Śiva Liṅga.

Social structure

Daivajñas are believed to have descended from migrant Magas, hence they are not classified under Gauḍādi Pañcaka in Kalhaṇa's Rājtaraṅgini.[141] But they are accepted as Pancha-Dravida by Shringeri Shankaracharya.

Social status

Social status of the Daivajñas has always been disputable.

Gotras or Exogamous family stocks

Most of them share the gotras with other Brahmins of the sub-continent. It is not known how tribes with such diverse origins came to inherit the same paternal lineages. If the Gotra system was philosophical or idealogical at its roots rather than the popular belief that it indicates the genealogical origins.

Daivajñas belong to following family stocks or Gotras:[142][143]

Bhāradvāja Kauśika cf.Kuśika Vatsa,cf.Vacca Atri Kauṇḍinya Kāśyapa
Vasiṣṭha Jamadagni Viśvāmitra,cf.Kaṃsa Aṅgirasa Gautama Śhāṇdilya
Kutsa Bhārgava Sanātana Viśvāgni Sanaka,cf.Sanakasya Sānaga
Pratna,cf.Pratananśya also Pradnya Sūrya Savitā Bhāskara Kaustubha Sāṅkhāyana
Ahabhuna,cf.Abhuvanasya Suparṇa Sañjaya Karmaṇi Parāśara Śaunaka
Sources:Karnāṭakātīl Ṛgvedī Daivajña brāhmaṇāncī gotrāvalī[144]
Gazatter of the Bombay presidency,Kanara district[117]

The Tribes and Castes of Bombay By Reginald Edward Enthoven[145]
Goa by Sureśa Kumāra Siṅgh and others[146]

Surnames and titles

There are no mentions of Daivajñas using surnames in their early history. They have used the honorific title Śeṭī with their name.[118] Names like Nāga Śeṭī,Soma Śeṭī,Viṭhṭhala Śeṭī[147] have been found in the copperplate dating back in the early 12th century which do not bear any surnames.It was only after their exodus from their motherland they started using village names from where their ancestors once hailed.[118] A suffix kār was added to the village or place name which indicates that the person hails from that region.[148] For example, a person hailing from the village of Rāy is known as Rāykār, person from Verṇe as Verṇekār and so on. The title Śeṭī or Śeṭ has not fallen into disuse, it is still used as respectful appellation for the elders e.g. Narāyaṇaśeṭ, Sāṃbaśeṭ, Anantaśeṭ.[117] Most of the Daivajñas from Karnataka still affix it to their names[11] and do not use any village names. In addition they have also adopted titles like Rāv, or Bhaṭṭa. The maiden name of a woman was changed after marriage and usually affix the honorific title Bāī[149] to their names such as Śāntābāī,Durgābāī; names like Nāgaṃmā and Śivāṃmā are common amongst Canara Daivajñas,[117] but the new generation is too reluctant to use such names.[150]

Other titles include: Potdār,Ṭāṅksālī,Vedaka,Daivajña,Vedapāṭhaka etc.[151]
Some typical Daivajña surnames:Revankar,Kārekār,Śiroḍkār,Coḍaṇkār,Peḍṇekār,Loṭalīkār etc.[118]



Śeṭs were divided according to the place from where they hailed, the maṭha they followed and other criteria.

The Subdivisions of Gomantaka Daivajñas

Until the early 19th century, Goan Śeṭs were divided into three sub-divisions based on their geographical location, but these divisions no longer exist:

These sub-divisions never intermarried nor did they accept food from their counterparts.[152]

The Subdivisions of Śeṭs in Canara

The Śeṭs had migrated from Goa during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, but the exodus became thicker after the advent of the Portuguese in the 16th century. They fled by ships to the southern ports,most of them settled in these cities,and later disseminated all along the west coast and the interiors of Karnataka. These distinctions were probably derived from the ports where they had landed and settled first.

  • Kārvārkār
  • Bhaṭkalkār

Some of the families belonging to these subdivisions were vegetarians, and a few were pisco-vegetarians, matrimonial relationships between them were not in vogue.[153]

Diaspora in Maharashtra

There are no prominent distinctions found in Maharashtra, but there are mentions of groups of Śeṭs of Goa, especially from Sāsaṣṭī, Bārdes, Tīsvāḍī, landing in places like Ṭhāṇe,[74]Sāvantvāḍī, Khārepāṭaṇ, Mālvaṇ, Kudāl etc.[99] They are sometimes collectively called as Koṅkaṇastha Daivajñas.[154] Daivajñas from Koṅkaṇa later migrated elsewhere in Maharashtra,[155] and hence they were also known as Koṅkaṇe or Konkane Devajnas as mentioned in old documents.[93]

Previously, Daivajñas from Goa refrained from having matrimonial alliances outside Goa. Today they arrange them with the Daivajñas of Karnataka and Maharashtra.[120]

Śeṭs of Kerala

The emigration of Goan Śeṭs to Kerala dates back to early 13th century,[156] most of them settled in the port of Koccī.[157] Some of them have migrated from Goa during the later half of the 16th century due to the religious persecution of the Portuguese and settled in places like Quilon, Trichur, Calicut, and Kasaragod, along the costal line of Kerala in 1562 AD.[158]

Francis Day in his book The land of the Permauls or COCHIN-Its past and its present written in 1863, mentions about Śeṭs from Koccī:

.... are now trying to give up the trade which they consider degrading.They have a temple of their own in Cochin; and once in a year they give their idols a grand entertainment by the side of the public road .... [157]

They are known as Koccīkār in Koṅkaṇī, and their language and customs have been gradually changing. They gave up eating fish because local Nambũdiri looked down upon them and local Nāyars were jealous of the migrant Konkanies.[157]

According to Mackenzie manuscripts, the four divisions of Konkanies, namely the Śeṇavīs, the Śeṭs, the Vaiśyas and the Kuṇbīs, emigrated from Concan into Malābar, as a result of some disturbances, and prevailed upon the Rajah of Cochin to permit them to settle and build their temples in his dominion. They were under Dutch protection until 1772, since which period authority over them has been claimed by Cochin’s Rajah.[157] They have their own ancient temple dedicated to Gopalakrishna, perhaps the oldest temple in Fort Cochin.[156]


A couple performing religious rituals

Saṃskāras, Customs and other practices

Daivajña people are not so orthodox but they strictly adhere to all the Ṣoḍaśa Saṃskāra or the 16 sacraments, and other brahminical rituals according to the Ṛgveda.[118][159]

The Saṃskāras begin to be observed right from the day of conception, but the prenatal sacraments like Garbhadhāna, Puṃsavana, are usually performed as a part of the wedding ceremony nowadays, unlike some 30 years ago these sacraments were held separately after the wedding ceremony at the right time.[160]Sīmantonayana or parting of the hair, called Phulā mālap in Koṅkaṇī or Ḍohāljevaṇ in Marāṭhī, is held in 5th, 7th, 9th months of the pregnancy; the coiffure is adorn with flowers, followed by other rituals.[3] Usually the birth of the first child is supposed to take place in woman's mother's home.[3] After the child is born, ten days of birth pollution or Suyer is observed, by keeping an oil lamp lit for ten days.[118] On the sixth day following childbirth, the goddess Śaṣṭī is worshipped.[3] On the 11th day, a purification Homa is performed. The Nāmakaraṇa or the Bārso, a naming ceremony, is performed on the 12th day.[3] It is sometimes held one month following the child birth if the stars are not favourable.[118] The Karṇavedha or Kān topap ceremony is held on the 12th day in case of a male child, or for a female child, it is held a month after the birth.[118] For Uśṭāvaṇ, Annaprasana or the first feeding ceremony child's maternal uncle feeds the baby with cooked soft rice mixed with milk and sugar. Another similar ritual, Dāntolyo is also performed by the maternal uncle when the baby gets new teeth, on the first birthday of the child.[118] Ceremonies like the first outing or Niṣkrāmaṇa,Jāval or cūdākarṃa i.e. cutting child's hair for first time,Vidyāraṃbha or commencement of studies, are performed as per caste rules.[118]

When the boys grow up, and before they attain the age of 12, Munj or Upanayana is performed with great fanfare.[118] All other sacraments related to it, like Keśānta or the first shave,Vedarambha or, Samāvartana or Soḍ Munj are performed as a part of thread ceremony nowadays. In case of girls, a ceremony associated with a girl’s first menstruation was observed in olden days.[161]

The most important sacrament for them is Vivāha,Lagna or the wedding. Various ceremonies held before the actual wedding ceremony are Sākarpuḍo or the betrothal,Devkāre or Devkārya that includes Puṇyāhvācana,Nāndi,Halad,Tel,Uḍid muhurta etc. The actual wedding ceremony is performed as per Ṛgveda.[118] They strictly observe Gotra exogamy.[162] Cross-cousin marriages are practised but only with mother's brother's daughter.[163] Intercaste marriages are not common in Daivajñas[164] The custom of dowry in its strict form does not exist any more, but Sālaṅkṛta Kanyādāna with Varadakṣiṇā is followed as a custom. Ceremonies like Gṛhapraveśa, changing the maiden name of the bride, and the puja are followed by some games to be played by the newly wed couple, and the visit to the family deity temple. Pancpartavaṇ or a feast is organised five days after marriage.[1] A widower is and was allowed to remarry, although widow remarriage is still frowned upon. The age for girls for marriage is from 18 to 25 and that for boys is from 25 to 30. Child marriage is absent though some girls were married off before attaining puberty, this custom was prevalent even in the mid 20th century.[165]

Adoption was common in olden days which included a ritual called as Dattak vidhan. Though several restrictions were imposed on adoption. Adoption by an untonsured widow was not valid as per their caste rules.[166]They used to(some still continue to) follow Hindu doctrine theVyavahara Mayukha which prescribes the Hindu law.[167]

Their dead are cremated according to the vedic rights, and various Śrāddhas and other Kriyās,Tarpaṇas are performed by the son or any other paternal relative, or in some cases by the son-in-law of the deceased.[118] As per the Vedas, dead infants without teeth must not be cremated,[168] and are supposed to be buried.[118] The body is generally carried to the cremation ground by the son of the deceased and his/her close relatives. Death pollution or Sutaka usually lasts for twelve days.[118] They usually won their own cremation grounds.[118] Women are not allowed in the crematorium.[169] If the deceased was male, his widow was tonsured and strict restrictions were imposed on widows.[170] There was no custom of widow remarriage in the past[171] neither is it very common nowadays[172][173] nor was there any custom of divorce.[171] They pay homage to their ancestors during Mahalaya(Mhall in Konkani) or Pitru Paksha and days like, Amavasya or the new moon day, may be in the form of Shraddha or Kakabali.

Their priests are usually from their own caste, otherwise Karhāḍe priests officiate their ceremonies whom they show much reverence.[174] Daivajñas never used to accept cooked food from other Brahmins.[9] They are still very much reluctant to accept water and cooked food from people belonging to other castes or religions.[120] Customs like Śikhā,Sandhyā Vandana, untouchability[175] were strictly followed until last 30 years, orthodox families still follow such customs. They also have custom of worshipping their instruments on particular days.[176]

Some of their customs are different from any others castes.[1] They celebrate a fish feast after all the major festivals and ceremonies.[1] Amongst the Śeṭs of Goa the elders, son-in-laws are held with great respect and are revered as Bābū,Bāpla,Tātū,Bāb these words are not used much by other castes in Goa.[1] Though they speak an Indo-Aryan language, they follow Dravidian kinship practices.( Karve, 1965: 25)


  • Gazetteer of the Bombay presidency-Kanara district, 1883, volume 15, part I, records:

....stocks.They are middle-sized, fair and delicate, and speak a some what peculiar Koṅkaṇī, using Z instead of J. Both....[117]

  • Goan historian Bā.Da. Sātoskar in his book Gomantaka Prakṛti āni Sanskṛti, Part-1:

....generous. They are appreciating,aesthetic,connoisseur of arts and culture,even poorest of them are very much hospitable, bon vivant....[1]

  • Nagendra Singh, the author of Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, has pointed out that Magas easily intermingled with the local population.[110] This trait is also found in the Śeṭs do not hesitate to mix with the local people without much discrimination.[44]

Socio-economic background and its history

Traditionally Daivajña people are in the jewellery trade, but they were not primarily involved in jewellery trade.[31] The reason how they adopted this as their occupation is not known. There are no mentions of the Śeṭs practising this occupation in the early history, although they used to make gold and silver images for the temples, which old texts suggest they have inherited this art from the Bhojaks[31] who made idols of the Sun god, hence were also called as Murtikāras. They were well versed in Śilpaśāstra and in Sanskrit hence received royal patronage.[44] Dhume mentions that the Śeṭs also studied medicine, astrology, astronomy[177] in ancient university of Brahmapuri in Goa.[178]

They were renowned for their skills even in the western world and were the first to introduce exquisite jewellery designs to Europe,[179] and were extensively involved in gold, silver, perfumes, black pepper export[179] and even silk, cotton textiles, tobacco[180] and import of horses during Portuguese and pre-Portuguese era.[181] Texts maintain names of many wealthy traders e.g. Virūpa Śeṭī of Coḍaṇe,[181]Āditya Śeṭī of Śivāpura or Śirodā[182]Viṭhṭhala Śeṭī,Dama Śeṭī, who was appointed as an administrator of the Bhatkaṭa port by the Portuguese,[183] and others. Ravala Śeṭī from Caraim who was summoned to Lisbon by the king of Portugal,[179][184][185] was a collaborator with Afonso de Albuquerque and retained a high office in Goa. Since days of yore their business has been flourishing on the banks of river Maṇḍavī, historical records mention them as prosperous and wealthy traders and business class. These traders, merchants with their fellow artisans, craftsmen had organised themselves into Śreṇīs or guilds,[186] Śreṣṭhīs or the head of the guilds were very wealthy,[10] and made huge donations to the temples, and their guilds also served as local banks and treasuries.[10] The Bhojas were the first rulers to establish an administrative machinery. They also controlled the piracy of the region of Goa. They might have given an impetus to increased commercial activities thereby patronising traders,merchants and their guilds.This was probably the reason for them to take up trade and flourish in almost all walks of life,and uplift their social status.

Few of them also worked as interpreters in king's court and were called Dubhāṣī, Gaṇa Śeṭī from Loṭalī village was in Kadamba rājā's court.[187] From the old documents it can be also seen that few of them were involved in politics,[188] and were employed by the kings for their service. Some of them were even associated with salvage operation of the vessels, and sometimes even provided the Portuguese with troops, ships and crew.[189] They assisted the kings in minting and designing the coins;[44] during Marāṭha rule some Daivajña families were given a title of Potdār, which literally means treasurer in Persian, who were in charge of testing the genuineness of the minted coins and their prescribed weight,[190] and played an important role in the revenue system of the Marāṭhas.[191]

The tradition of jewellery trade still continues, and their business is predominantly spread throughout the west coast of India. Some of them are primarily engaged in testing gemstones and metals, designing and making gold jewellery. Many of them own their own jewellery factories in Mumbai, Goa and other places, which hire Bengali goldsmiths.[citation needed]

In the past, children would continue their forefather's business,[citation needed] but today usually one son continues his father's trade.[citation needed] The tradition of studying Vedas amongst the Goan Śeṭs does not exist any more,[126] but Daivajñas from Gokarṇa, Honnāvara and many other places in coastal Karnataka and Koṅkaṇa division of Maharashtra have kept this tradition alive. Many of them are priests who offer religious services to the community,[192] very few of them are astrologers and temple priests.[2]

In the Uttara Kannaḍa district of Karnataka, a few families from the poorer section of this community have even taken up cultivation to support their livelihood.[193]

Festivals and Vratas

Daivajñas observe all the Hindu festivals but Ganesh Chaturthi, Nag Panchami and Diwali are the most important annual festivals.[120] Other festivals and Vratas observed by them are:

The festival of Malini Pournima is exclusively celebrated by very few Śeṭ families of Goa, in honour of Goddess Shakti, (Malini refers to Durga). These families have a unique custom of offering cooked fish to the goddess, in the form of either Kamakshi or Mahamaya.

Several other temple and maţha related festivals like Jātrā, Paryaya, Chaturmas are celebrated with great zeal.

Traditional attire

A Daivajña lady from Goa, wearing traditional nose ring (Nath) and Kumkum

Daivajña men traditionally wear Dhotīs called Puḍve or Aṅgavastra, which cover them from waist to foot. These are made of cotton and sometimes silk on special occasions and wore Judi or Sadro to cover upper part of their bodies, and a piece of cloth called Uparṇe over the shoulders. They wore turbans and Pagdis, Muṇḍāso, a red velvet cap or Topī was used by the traders and merchants so that they would not be troubled by the Portuguese.[195][196] Men had their ears pierced and wore Bhikbālī, sported Śendī and wore Vibhutī or Sandalwood or Gopīcandana paste on their foreheads. Men were fond of gold jewellery too.[196]

Traditional Daivajña woman wear a nine yard saree,[117] also known as Kāppad or Cīre in such a way that the back was fully covered.[196] The fashion of wearing a blouse became popular in the 18th century. Ghāgro and a five yards saree was worn by unmarried girls. Women wore gold ornaments on different parts of their bodies (e.g. Ghonṭ, Pāṭlī, Todo, Bājunband, Galesarī, Valesar, Kudī[196]), and wore silver ornaments to decorate their feet (e.g.;Paijaṇ, Salle, Māsolī, Vāle[196]). Gold ornaments were not worn below the waist. Gold is considered a symbol of Agni and is said to keep the evil spirits away. Married women wore Kuṅkuma on their forehead in the shape of a cucumber seed, which is not in vogue any more, and wore Maṅgalsutra, nose rings (a diamond stud,Nath), and toe rings, as a symbol of marriage. Wearing hair in plaits was considered demeaning so they always wore their hair in a bun, and decorated it with flowers and gold ornaments. Widows wore red-coloured nine yards sarees and covered their heads, and sometimes wore Vibhuti on their foreheads.[197]

In modern days, western clothing has found tremendous acceptance amongst men, nine yard sarees and dhotis are worn only on special occasions and festivals, although traditional gold jewellery is still extremely popular. Women wear five yard sarees, and the Salwār Kamīj is extremely popular.


Calender published by Karki Math in Kannada

Daivajñas speak Koṅkaṇī and its dialects.[198] Koṅkaṇī is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages, which is spoken predominantly on the west coast of India.[199] Gomantaka Daivajñas speak a dialect of Koṅkaṇī known as Goan Koṅkaṇī which the Ethnologue recognises as the Gomāntakī dialect,further divided into sub-dialects such as the Bārdescī Bhās or north Goan,Pramāṇa or standard Koṅkaṇī and Sāśṭicī Bhās or south Goan.[121][200] Daivajñas in Maharashtra, i.e. Mumbai, Ṭhāne, Pune, Kolhāpūra, Sātārā, contemporarily speak Marāṭhī. In the Koṅkaṇa region of Maharashtra they speak dialects of Koṅkaṇī such as Mālvanī, Kudālī and others. Daivajñas in Canara speak different dialects of Koṅkaṇī, such as Kārvārī in the Uttara Kannaḍa district and Maṅglurī in the South Canara district.[121] Almost all of them are bilingual, Goan Śeṭs can speak Marāṭhī fluently,[120] Canara Śeṭs speak Kannaḍa and Tulu outside home,[201] likewise a very small fraction of Keralans can speak Malayālaṃ with an accent, most of them can speak English fluently.[120] Many of them have accepted Marāṭhī/Kannaḍa as their cultural language but noticeably, this has not led to an assimilation of these languages with Koṅkaṇī.[202] Similarly Daivajñas settled in various parts of Gujarat use the local language Gujarati.[203]Portuguese language is known by many members of older generation of Goans who had done their formal education during the Portuguese rule.

Records say that the Śaursenī dialect of Prākrita was spoken by one of the group of Indo-Aryan tribe, who moved down south, which was later evolved into present day Koṅkaṇī when mixed with Kuṅkṇā.[41] spoken by the aboriginal people, and was initially influenced to a great extent by Mahāraṣṭrī Prākrita,[36] Magadhi Prakrit[33] and the overtones of Pali[204] (the liturgical language of the Buddhists) that played a very important role in development of Paishachi Apabhramsha, and later Konkanii grammar and vocabulary.

Historians say that the period of migration of Daivajñas and the Kudāldeskārs, from the northern part of India is same, and they settled in Goa in the same period, for this reason members of both the communities speak the same dialect of Koṅkaṇī in Goa.[1][205]

Historically, many scripts have been used writing either Koṅkaṇī or Marāṭhī. An extinct script called as Goykanadi[i] was used by the traders in the early 16th century. The earliest document written in this script is a petition addressed by Ravala Śeṭī to the king of Portugal.[206] Other scripts used include Devanāgarī,Moḍī,[206]Halekannaḍa and Roman script.[206]

Kali Bhasha secret lexicon

Their known history mentions them as traders, in ancient and modern Goa and Koṅkaṇa region. Gopikāpaṭṭaṇa as the center of trade, that flourished during the Kadamba and pre-Portuguese era. Daivajña traders had developed a unique slang called Kalī Bhās, which was used to keep the secrecy of the trade by the traders. Remnants of this jargon are still found in the language used by the Daivajña traders.[38][207][208]

Few words from "Kali Bhasha":

Kalī Koṅkaṇī Meaning
Zalken Nuste Fish
Nevlo ~ A non Śeṭ customer
Tīgh Palay Look
Tol Ghe Take
Valay Kāṅkaṇ A bangle or any circular object
Kanak Bhāṅgar, Suvarṇ Gold
Dāfarāvaṇī Gondal, Dīvāle, Nāgavṇī Confusion, Bankruptcy, Cheating
Sources:Bhāratiya Samājvighaṭak Jātī Varṇa Vyavasthā,by Pā. Pu Śiroḍakara,page:50
Gomant Kalika(monthly), article written by Dr. Prakashchandra Shirodkar, April 2004 issue, published by Kalika Prakashan Vishwast Mandal

Food habits

Śeṭs refrained from eating all meats,[117] except fish.[2][117] Fish are not treated as a meat and are euphemistically called "Sea Vegetable" (Jal Kaay), while oysters are referred to by the name Samudra phala (Sea fruit). Fish from brackish waters is generally preferred to freshwater fish.[209] They partake Satvik diet,that excludes food items like:onion,garlic,tomatoes,beans etc. during all the Vratas, Pujas,other rituals and religious holidays .Food rituals are important among the daivadnyas.[citation needed] Dosa or polle, different preparations offovv, Rice rotti, bhakri with tondak or chutney,sanjo, was served for breakfast, Pej (Congee), a rice gruel, by boiling rice, while retaining a certain proportion of water, served with fish, bhāji (vegetables), pickles and chutney was normally eaten as mid-morning meal in olden days.[citation needed] A typical lunch consisted of rice and Hūmaṇ (fish curry),[117] fried fish or fish cutlets,ross, varan or vann (dal), bhāji, pickle and papad. Sukke, kalputi, tikhle, ambatt, dangar are common fish preparations whereas popular varieties of vegetable curries are Khatkhate, Mugaganṭhī, Toṇḍāk and other dishes. Sweets like Payasa, Mangaṇe, Kheer, Puran poli, Sojī, Sakar bhat, Patoleo are very popular. Dinner was the same as lunch.[citation needed] Fish is not consumed on Mondays, and on auspicious days, and holy months like Shravan and Margashirsha.[117] The Vaishnavite and Purohit counterparts are vegetarian.[2]

Arts and music

They do not have their own repertoire of folk songs, but many of them are skilled in singing bhajans, in folk and classical traditions. Until recently every family had a tradition of evening bhajan and prayers with the family members in front of the family gods; a few families have still kept this tradition alive. Children recited Shlokas, Shubhankaroti, Parvacha, as the womenfolk lit the lamp in front of the deity, tulasi and ancestors. Womenfolk were not allowed to sing or dance which was considered demeaning, they do not have any folk songs other than ovis which they hummed while doing household work, some pujas, and other ceremonies such as the naming ceremony, the wedding and the thread ceremony.[210]

Even though they do not have a tradition of folk songs, they have played a significant role in field of Hindustani classical music, drama, arts and literature.[210] Natak or dramas originally performed in the temples in front of the deities during festivals are one of their most revered art forms. Their womenfolk were never allowed to act on the stage until recently, though men have been performing historical plays for many centuries. They were one of the first communities to establish institutions like Ramajanmotsav Mahajaniya Sanstha, Kalangutkar Mahajana; which are almost a century old, and performed Nataks in the temples. This tradition is still kept alive by many families and temple related groups.

List of Daivajna periodicals

Gomant Kalika, published from Goa
Title Language Periodicity Place of Publication
Gomant Kalika Marathi Monthly Vasco, Goa
Daivadnya Prabhat (1961) Marathi Monthly Mumbai, Maharashtra
Daivadnya Vikas Marathi Monthly Pune
Daivadnya Prabodhini (1964) Marathi Monthly Mumbai
Daivadnya Samachar Marathi Monthly Mumbai
Daivadnya Sandesh Marathi Monthly Mumbai
Daivadnyashree Marathi Yearly Mumbai
Jnaneshwari Prabha Kannada Monthly Karki, Honnavar, Karnataka
Daivajna Kirana Kannada Monthly Bangalore, Karnataka
Daivagna Abhiyan Gujarati Monthly Vapi, Gujarat
Daivajna Bharati English Monthly Mumbai
Source:Press in India By India. Office of the Registrar of Newspapers, India. Office of the Registrar of Newspapers for India,Parts I,II[211]

Notable individuals


  • ^ The state of Goa has been mentioned as Gomantaka,Gomanta,or Goparāṣṭra or land of the nomads,in Hindu scriptures Like Mahābhārata.
    Source:Mahābhārata of Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa, translated to English by Kisārī Mohana Gāṅgulī
  • ^ A letter from Sodhe Math pontiff to chieftain of Hosakerī village: ..Śrī Svasti Śrīmad Uḍupi Śrī Sonde Maṭha Śrī Vādirāja Guru Pīṭharūdha Śrīmad Viśvādhīśa Thīrtha ....... In respect, this is to inform you that,you the Mukhamāsīta Daivajña svarṇakāra sūrya brāhmaṇa ......
    Source:Published by Nārāyaṇaśastri Kṣirasāgara(edition 6, page 139)
  • ^ The doctrinal basis for that assertion is Bhaviṣya Purāṇa 133, which may be summarised as follows:
    Kṛṣṇa's son Sāṃba was afflicted with leprosy, which was cured after he worshipped Sūrya.He built a temple for Sūrya on the banks of the Candrabhāgā river, but no competent brahmin could be found to take up the role of priest in the temple. So Sāṃba sought help of Gauramukha, the adviser of the yadu chief, Ugrasenā. Gauramukha suggested that Sāṃba go to Śhākadvipa and invite the priests to worship Sūrya. Further,Sāṃba asked, "Tell me, oh brahmin, what are the antecedents of these worshippers of the Sun?". Gauramukha replied, "The first of the brahmins amidst the Shākas was called Sujihvā (some texts mention as Tvaṣṭar). He had a daughter named Nikṣubhā, who enamoured Sūrya(Mārtaṇḍa as mentioned in Bhaviṣya Purāṇa) and was impregnated by him. Thus she gave birth to Jarāśabda who was the founding father of all the Maga priests.They are distinguished by the sacred girdle called the Avyaṅga that they wear around their waist",Sāṃba requested Kṛṣṇa to send him Garuḍa, on whose back he then flew to Śhākadvipa. He collected the Maga Ācāryas, brought them to Jaṃbudvipa and appointed them priests of the Sūrya temple.
    Of the pious representatives of 18 families Sāṃba invited to resettle in the city of Sāṃbapura, eight were Maṅdagas, and their descendants became śūdras. The other 10 were Maga Brahmins, who married Bhoja women and so their descendants came to be known as Bhojakas.
  • ^ Mahābhārata describes fourfold Varṇa system that was followed in Śhākadvipa:Maga,Maṣaka,Mānasa,Maṅdaga.
    Source:Mahabharata,Bhishmaparva,Adhyaya-11,Shlokas-35 to 38
  • ^ The holy vedas have mentioned various roles,duties and occupations practised by the Brahmins.For instance,the Yajurveda mentions Brahmins taking up several roles in context with the Puruṣamedha or the human sacrifice
    ,e.g.,Gaṇaka or Daivajña or the astrologer,Murtikāra or the image maker,
    Maṇikāra or the jeweller,Hiraṇyaka or the goldsmith.Such occupations are even mentioned in Manu's book of law or the Manusmṛti
    Source:Society and Religion: From Rugveda to Puranas‎ by Jayant Gadkari, 1996, p. 254
  • ^ ...Śrī Mulapuruṣāne Gauḍadeśāhūna devilā āṇūna ticī sthāpanā chudāmaṇī betāvarīl,Kārai hyā jāgī,Gomatī nadīcyā tīrāvar kelī... (Translation:Mulapuruṣa brought the images of the goddess from the Gauḍadeśa, and installed them in a place called as Kārai on the Chudamani island on the banks of river Gomatī.)
    Source:Smaranika:published by Śrī Gajantalakṣmī Ravalnatha Devasthana Mārsel Goa, May 2004
  • ^ A study of Comunidade de Caraim was done by Śrī Gajantalakṣmī Ravalnatha Devasthana.This temple used to exist in Caraim until 1510, and was later shifted to Mahem and then to Mārsel, as mentioned in the documents preserved by the temple and the Comunidade de Caraim documents,all the Gauncars of this comunidade were of Daivadnea bramane Casta, and were divided in three vangors. Most of the Gauncars fled in other places to avoid conversions,no Hindu Gauncars are found in Caraim any more,but only two families of Gauncars of the Comunidade de Caraim are found in Caraim now and they belong to the Roman Catholic Brahmin or Bamonn category.Same is the case with Comunidade de Sangolda,and Comunidade de Aldona.
    Sources:Smaranika:published by Śrī Gajantalakṣmī Ravalnatha Devasthana Mārsel Goa,May 2004
    Ad. Paṇduraṅga Puruṣottama Śiroḍkara(Bharatiya samajavighaṭaka jātivarṇa vyavasthā)
    Goa: Hindu temples and deities,By Rui Gomes Pereira, Antonio Victor Couto Published by Pereira, 1978,Page:41
  • ^ ...The earliest instance of this script we have in a petition addressed by a certain Ravala Śeṭī,most probably a Gaunkar of Caraim in the islands of Goa, to the king of Portugal...
    This signature of Ravala Śeṭī in Koṅkaṇī written in Goykānaḍī:
    Ravala Śeṭī baraha, which means writing of Ravala Śeṭī
    This petition also includes signature of Ravala Śeṭī in Roman script.
    Source:History of Goa through Gõykanadi
  • ^ Grāmaṇya is a crystallisation of conflicts between two castes of individuals belonging to the same caste,and the same group,about observance of certain religious practices vis-a-vis,other members of the society or of the particular caste group.There are two types of Grāmaṇyas inter-caste,and intra-caste. (Source:The Satara raj, 1818–1848: a study in history, administration, and culture By Sumitra Kulkarni, Pages: 187,188.)
  • ^ Sanskrit Suvarṇakāra, is corrupted to Prākṛta Soṇṇāro from which Koṅkaṇī and Marāṭhī word Sonār is derived. (Source: The Koṅkaṇî language and literature By Joseph Gerson Cunha, page: 18.)
  • ^ According to Sanchoniathon, Magus and Amynus were grandsons of Technites (Greek: technites, τεχνίτης "the artist"). According to a source (Asiactic Researches of Transactions of the society instituted in Bengal,An essay on the sacred isles in the west, pages=11–152, 1812), Technites is etymologically related to the Tvaṣṭar of the Hindus.


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