Saraswat Brahmin


Saraswat Brahmin
Not only the Goud Saraswat Brahmins of Konkan.
Saraswat
Total population
1,000,000 (Northern Saraswats)
Regions with significant populations
Primary populations in:
Languages

Punjabi, Hindi, Marwadi, Kashmiri, Garhwali, Dogri, Kumaoni

Religion

Hindu

Related ethnic groups

Mohyal, Punjabi Brahmins, Kashmiri Pandit

The Saraswats are a Brahmin caste of India.

Contents

History

According to the legend, Saraswat Brahmins are Central Asian migrants who settled on the banks of the former Saraswati River that once flowed in northern India/Pakistan, around 8000 years ago. Although it is said that at Prayag the three rivers meet or met.the fact is that the Saraswati never flowed into Allahabad or Prayag. Instead some of its waters merged with the Yamuna which then flowed into Prayag, and so the three rivers are popularly said to have met there. Saraswats are considered among the oldest and most widespread community in India, still preserving their own culture. Around 1900 BC, the river Saraswati started vanishing under ground and the people on its banks started migrating to other parts of India thus forming sub-communities. There are many sub-communities in Saraswats, including

1.Kutch Saraswats(found in Gujrat-Kutch, Mumbai) 2.Rajasthan Saraswats 3.Saraswat's from Uttarakhand 4.Saraswat's from Uttar Pradesh 5.Saraswat's from Konkan 6.Kashmiri Saraswats Kashmiri Pandits 7.Punjabi Saraswats 8.Sind Saraswats

Communities

As per several renowned historians, the Saraswati-Sindhu river was existent in parts of Kashmir, Punjab and Sindh. Due to Islamization in Sindh since 712 AD, most of the Sindhis and other tribes like the Saindhav Rajpoots and the Jhaatts, were forced to adopt the Islamic lifestyle. The majority of present day Muslims in West Punjab and Sindh regions of Pakistan were originally Hindus who were forcefully converted into Islam by invading Islamic armies, though a few still have retained Hindu surnames of Chaudhary, Bhat/Butt, Sethi. The Aamil Sindhi community (surname e.g.: Advani, Madhvani, Chandrani etc.) are mostly from the Saraswat Brahmin clan of Sindh.

Punjabi Saraswat Brahmins are one of the most influential communities in Punjab. Approximately 45% of Punjabi Brahmins belong to the Bharadwaja Gotra, a Saraswati Brahmin group which is the same as the one found in Kashmir.The other prominent Gotra in Punjab is Lakhanpal.In addition to main Saraswati gotras such as Bharadawaja and Vashistha, Punjab is also home to the small 'Mohyal' minority, a sub-community within Punjabi Saraswat Brahmins have traditionally been landlords, Dewans, Shahs, and Kings in Northern areas,being the descendants of Dronacharya and were warriors. Many of Brahmins in NWFP region were "Mohyals". The "Mohyals" were clans of Brahmins who lived independent of law of the land and were warriors, educators, law-makers in NWFP.

The Brahmins of Jammu are known as "Dogra" Saraswats and they too are a sub-category of the larger Saraswat Brahmins. Though ethnically they are similar to the other Saraswats, culturally and linguistically they are closer to Punjabi Brahmins than to the Kashmiri Brahmins as the Dogra Brahmins speak in Dogri (a language similar to Punjabi).

Saraswat Brahmins form a great proportion of the Vedic followers in Kashmir, called the Kashmiri Pandits. These Kashmiri Brahmins are thought to be the descendants of Rishi Kashyap. Their origin is from Central Asia and they are followers of the Proto-Indo-Iranian religion. Kashmiri Pandits identify their deity with the Goddess Saraswati, who has been mentioned in the Vedas as the Goddess of learning. The surname of "Pandit" is invariably a Saraswat Brahmin surname and a large number of them are the Kashmiri Pandits though some Saraswats with this surname are found in other parts of India as well. There are many Muslims in the Valley of Kashmir with surname of Pandit/Pandith as well, indicating that they are fairly more recent converts to Islam (from Hinduism). Many Kashmiri Muslims have still have kept their Brahmin surnames of Bhat, Dhar, Pandit, Raina, Kaul and Reshi.

Prominent Saraswats

See also

References


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