Goud Saraswat Brahmin

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Goud Saraswat Brahmin

Gawd Saraswat Brahmin
गौड सारस्वत ब्राह्मण
ಗೌಡ ಸಾರಸ್ವತ ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣ
ഗൌഡ് സാരസ്വത്

Gowd (also spelt as Goud or Gaud) Saraswat Brahmins (गौड सारस्वत ब्राह्मण (Devanagari), ಗೌಡ ಸಾರಸ್ವತ (Kannada)) are a Hindu Brahmin community in India and a part of the larger Saraswat Brahmincommunity. They are popularly referred to as GSBs. They are Konkani people and primarily speakKonkani as their mother tongue.They claim their origin to the Brahmins who lived on the banks of the now extinct river Saraswati of upper Punjab or Kashmir. They derived their name from either the river Saraswati or from their spiritual leader Great Sage Saraswat Muni who lived on the banks of Saraswati. These Brahmins were one of the Pancha Gowda Brahmin groups who lived north of the Vindhyas. They belonged to Smarta tradition and primarily worshiped the five deities: Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Surya and Ganesha. Throughout the course of history, the Saraswat Brahmins have migrated to a variety of locations and are found mostly in Western coast of India.[1]

Total population

300,000 (approx)

Regions with significant populations

Primary populations in:

  • Goa

  • Maharashtra

  • Karnataka

  • Kerala

Populations in:

  • United Kingdom

  • United States

  • Arab States



English, KannadaTulu and Malayalam used for professional purposes, Sanskrit used for religious purposes



  • Divisions based on Veda

    • Rigvedi

  • Divisions based on sect

    • Smartha

    • Madhwa

Related ethnic groups

  • Rajapur/Bhalavalikar Saraswat Brahmins

  • Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin

  • Kudaldeshkar Gaud Brahman

  • Daivajna

  • Padye

  • Bhatt Prabhu

  • Chitpavan

  • Gomantak Maratha Samaj

  • Goan Catholics

  • Mangalorean Catholics

  • Karwari Catholics


Saraswat muni (who was a devotee of Goddess Saraswati) once needed disciples to spread his teachings and knowledge to the world. However, he could not get students who were capable of the task. So he prayed to Goddess Saraswati to help him. Pleased with his devotion the Goddess gave him fourteen sons. Each of them had a name and the same is used by his descendents as their surname. The sons had characteristics according to their names. They were taught by the sage and sent around the world with certain objectives.

The Saraswat Brahmins are mentioned in the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata and even the Bhavisyottara Purana. They may have come from Central Asia and Southern Germany to the Indian sub-continent through the Hindu-Kush mountains and the Khyber pass to south in about 2000–1500 BC or they were indigenous.[1] The meaning of 'Saraswat' has more than one origin. One refers to 'offspring of Saraswati'[citation needed] thegoddess of learning applied usually to learned and scholarly people. It may denote the residents of Saraswati river basin. The Brahmins of this region who are referred to as 'Saraswats' inMahabharata and Puranas were learned in Vedic lore.[citation needed] They concentrated on studying subjects like astronomymetaphysics, medicine and allied subjects and disseminating knowledge.[citation needed] To trace the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins' ancestry from Kashmir to Goa, story of famous seer "Saraswata" is considered: When there was a famine in north India, he continued to recite Vedic texts by consuming fish.[2]

Due to geo-morphosis in the Himalayas, the Saraswati began to dry up and the Saraswats were forced to migrate to greener pastures. Some went to Kashmir in the north, others went eastward. Few made their way to the Konkan and Goa. These came to be recognised as Goud Saraswatsor Dakshinatya Saraswats, to distinguish them from other Saraswat groups of the north.

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

The new immigrants were called 'Goud' because they were followers of Monism or Advaita as preached by Shri Goudapadacharya, who was guru of Shri Govinda Padacharyawhose direct disciple was the great Shri Shankaracharya, who resurrected Hinduismor Vedic religion in India. Shri Gaudapadacharya Mutt, first mutt of Saraswats dedicated to the memory of Goudapadacharya was established in Keloshi (Quellosim) in Goa in the 8th century AD. He later moved to Kaivalyapura or Kavale in Goa as the mutt at Keloshi was destroyed in 1564 AD by the Portuguese rulers. To this day, the swamis of Kavale math are known as Goudapadacharyas. Kavale Math is the Goud Saraswat community's Adimath (first math) and three main sub-sects of Dakshinatya Saraswats — Sashtikar (Dorke including Bardeshkars like Divkar), Shenvis (Karbharis), and Chitrapur Saraswats (Bhanaps) — were known as Goud Saraswats or Konkani Brahmins until 300 years ago. Other Saraswat subsects include PednekarsRajapur Saraswat BrahminsBalavalikars and kudaldeshkars. In the 13th century, Dwaita (Vaishnava) philosophy advocated by Madhvacharya became popular and many Saraswats adopted Vaishnavism. They continued to worship the deities they brought with them from the north. These were 'Mahan Girish' orMangueshiShakti or ShantadurgaVishnuGanesh and Surya. They form the 'Panchayatan' or five deities, sacred to all Saraswats.

Goud Saraswats were in all the kingdoms of the western coast under different dynasties right from 6th century A.D. KadambaRashtrakutaHoysalaChalukya Shilahara and Vijayanagarakings had given important posts to Saraswats. There were admirals, treasurers, ambassadors, army chiefs and foreign language interpreters among them. They were famous traders, who conducted maritime trade with Eastern and Western countries of the contemporary world. The spoken language of Saraswats is Konkani.

The Portuguese traders were followed by Christian missionaries. Forcible conversions[citation needed] began to take place under the Portuguese Royal Patronage[citation needed] in 1560. Most of the Saraswat families left Goa with their family deities, risking life and limb. They settled in the adjoining Hindu principalities. New temples came up in the coastal districts of Karnataka for Saraswat deities. As time passed, the idols were taken back to newly constructed temples in Goa. They are not in the original ancient spots, where churches were built,[citation needed] destroying earlier temples.[citation needed] Many people migrated to Kerala and built temples mainly dedicated to Vishnu and his avatars. The first Vaishnava Saraswat Math of Gokarna Math lineage was established in the year 1475 in Varanasi. The origin of Gokarna Math comes from the lineage of Sri Palimar Math, one of the eight Maths established by Sripad Madhwacharya in Udupi.[3] Kashi Math at Kochi came up in 1560 A.D. All the Vaishnav Saraswats (Madhwa) are Kulavis (followers) of either Kashi Math or Gokarna Math. 'Smarth' Saraswats owe allegiance to either Kavale Math or Chitrapur Math.

Saraswats continued to hold 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. Saraswats were the first beneficiaries of English education introduced in 1840.[citation needed]

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