Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins also known as Balavalikar Saraswat Brahmins, though wellknown amongst the southern Indian Saraswats, evensince they settled in the coastal belt of South Kanara and Kasargod Districts, were little known to the entire world of Saraswats till recently.
Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins, a small fraction of the large Saraswat community had not been in limelight till the middle of 19th century for many obvious reasons.
The history of Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins runs parallel to that of other southern Saraswats. They migrated from Goa (Gomantak) to Balavali and other villages in Rajapur Taluk of Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra. And from there they came and settled in the villages of South Kanara (i.e. the present Dakshina Kannada and Udupi Districts) and Coorg District of Karnataka and Kasargod District of Kerala. These happenings were mainly due to the political uncertainties and religious persecution created by Portuguese and Bahmini Sultans. There are no historical records or inscriptions to prove exactly the period during which they flee from Rajapur Taluk. Probably they might have come here during the 17th century. Their mother-tongue "Konkani" has some resemblance to that of Karhad Deshastha Brahmins of Coastal Karnataka. Their original Konkani language of Goa and pronunciation of words were much influenced by Marathi language, when they were in Rajapur for about one or two centuries and it is a "Konkani" mixed with Marathi words. After moving to the coastal Karnataka, again the local languages here have played their role to a certain extent.
A GLIMPSE OF THE PROGRESS OF RAJAPUR / BALAVALIKAR SARASWAT BRAHMINS IN THE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURY IS PRESENTED HERE:-
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC STATUS
Bare footed and empty handed Rajapur Saraswat Brahmin refugees had no other alternative than to take up agriculture as their means for survival. They became tenants and agricultural labourers of mutts, temples and jamindars and had to undergo lot of torture and ill treatment for a long period. As they had to struggle for their daily food, they had neither courage and support nor facilities to enter into the fields of business, industries or any other trade. They continued to be illiterate due to lack of educational facilities in villages for few decades. But with hard work and determination, they progressed in the field of agriculture mainly in paddy and arecanut cultivation and could achieve some degree of social security and economic stability.
As years rolled on, they gathered some courage and started petty business and small hotels in rural areas. The poverty and unemployment problems in villages, problems in the undivided large families forced some of them to move to the cities like Mumbai, Pune, Belgaum, Bangalore etc. With a humble beginning as workers in the hotels or paan-beedi shops, they started their own business like hotels, shops, petty business, etc. in those cities. When the social status of the community improved their economic backbone was strengthened. They also gained courage to widen their horizons of trade and commerce. Many were attracted towards small scale industries, printing press, mosaic tile manufacturing, rubber industries etc. Today their people have progressed well in certain fields of commerce and trade. It is noteworthy that in the last 2-3 decades many large / small scale industries of rice, beatenrice and cashewnut factories have been started by the community people in Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, North Kanara and Shimoga districts. Unfortunately multinational industrialists or traders are unseen. Moreover the community people are yet to knock at the doors of several other business fields.
Since majority of the people were agriculturists and they were in the grips of the landlords, they had to pay major portion of their produce as rentals or "Geni". The Land Reforms Act implemented by the Karnataka government in 1974 was a boon to the tenants and it changed the picture of the village life. Once they became the owners of their lands, they progressed well.
a. Dharmic Education
Purohits play a significant role in the perpetual maintenance of religious heritage of the community. In fact they are the guides who show the path for spiritual and religious life. Loss of contact with Kavle Mutt, Ponda, Goa due to immigration created a cultural lacuna for a long period, as far as their own Purohits were concerned. Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins had to rely upon Purohits from Karhad Brahmins for their religious ceremonies, shodasha samskaras, etc.
Re-establishment of the contact with Kaivalya Mutt, changed the activities towards the religious welfare of the community. Since then many joined the Vedic Patashala of Kavle Mutt and today large number of qualified Purohits are serving the community. In all their temples Purohits of the community are performing the poojas. Several Purohits are capable of performing all the religious ceremonies.
b. General Education
Once they got acquainted with the new environment after immigration from Rajapur, slowly they were able to achieve in the beginning only primary school education which was available in the rural areas for which they had to walk several miles. Some of them became primary school teachers and succeeded in establishing schools under their own management in the beginning of the 20th century, in rural places like Bantakal, Marne, Patla, Pernankila, Padubettu, Bhairanje and Kudi of Udupi District and Sheni of Kasargod District and other places.
As the time passed more and more people took their high school education, college education, technical and professional education. In the last five decades a remarkable progress in all fields of education could be achieved and today about 75% of the population (including the older generation) is literate. Reservation made available for economically backward class by Karnataka state government made their students to enter the medical and technical profession. The facilities extended by Dr. T M A Pai Foundation, Manipal for the Konkani speaking (linguistic minority) group helped many students to achieve technical and pharmacy education. Students have proved their efficiency by holding ranks in general and professional education.
During the post-independence time remarkable changes have taken place and today many doctors, engineers, chartered accountants and teachers in professional and other colleges, nurses etc. are serving not only in India but are spread over in USA, UK, Middle-East countries etc. This has made a significant change in their economic status also. Few eminent people are also active in the research field and are occupying high positions.
To revitalise the rich religious heritage and to bring unity and progress by spiritual means, their forefathers thought of establishing dharmic centres. As a result and by the efforts of the local people, following temples were established:-
This indicates that Goddess Durga is their "Ishtadevata". In addition to these Shri Narasimha Temple, Narasinge, Parkala, Udupi district also came into their hands in 1975. Shri Rama Mandir was also constructed at Kodange, Parkala, in 1968 which is about 2 km. from Manipal.
All these temples have been well renovated and have become the centres for Dharmic activities. Centenary celebrations of Laxmipura Temple in 1991 and Golden Jubilee celebrations of Bantakal temple in 1992 were attended by a large section of the community and dharmic unity of the community has been strengthened. "Sandhyavandana" camps and "Brahmopadesha" ceremonies for the benefit of the community people are conducted every year free of cost.
The following souvenirs published by these temples, present a detailed picture of their activities and progress :-
1. "Prasada" 1971, to commemorate the construction of Shree Poornananda Saraswati Sabha Bhavan at Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple, Bantakal, Udupi.
2. "Arpane" 1975 - to commemorate the construction and inauguration of New Chariot at Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple, Bantakal, Udupi.
3. "Aashirwad" 1977 - To commemorate the Chaturmasya Vrita celebration of H.H. Shri Sachidananda Saraswati Swamiji, Kavle Mutt, Goa at Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple, Bantakal, Udupi.
4. "Durga Prasad" 1988 - brought out by Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple, Mogeru, Kasargod on the occasion of Brahma Kalashotsav.
5. "Shata Samskriti" 1991 - Centenary celebrations of Sri Adishakti Mahalaxmi Temple, Laxmipura, Karkala.
6. "Swarna Durga" 1992 - Golden Jubilee celebrations of Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple, Bantakal, Udupi.
7. "Prerana" 1997 - Renovation of Sri Narasimha Temple, Narasinge, Parkala, Udupi.
8. "Sri Gayathri" 1997 to commemorate the decennial celebrations of "Vaidik Nityakarma Shibira", Puttur which conducted Gayathri enchanting camps for 10 years.
All temples have in addition the Sabha Bhavans which serve the needs of the people, for their religious functions and cultural activities. With the same purpose "Balavalikar Saraswat Brahmin Samaj, Sullia" has built a community hall in 1992 at Sullia. Shri Varad Siddhi Vinayak Seva Mandal, Dombivli established in 1986 is celebrating Ganesh festival every year on a grand scale and is also encouraging students of the community by giving scholarships.
The remarkable all round progress in all walks of life of Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins is due to the blessings of Sadguru Srimat Sachidananda Saraswati Swamiji and Srimat Shivananda Saraswathi Swamiji of Sri Samsthan Goudapadacharya Mutt, Kavle, Goa.
The "Chaturmasya Vrita" celebrations at Sri Adishakti Mahalaxmi Temple, Laxmipura, Karkala in 1971 and at Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple, Bantakal in 1976 brought the entire community under H.H. Swamiji's feet. Because of Swamijis' blessings and guidance they have been building up a spiritually and culturally rich religious society.
Samaj members participated in large numbers during the "Shishyasweekar" ceremony in February 1994 at Kavle Mutt, Goa. The community is very fortunate that Swamijis have consented to observe "Chaturmasya Vrita" at Laxmipura Temple, Hirgan, Karkala in 2001 and this is going to be an important mile stone in further progress of the samaj. Both Swamijis visit all the temples very often, bless the samaj and guide the disciples in their religious path for peaceful life.
Several organizations have been formed by the community members from time to time to build up a strong progressive Samaj.
1. Balavalikar Gaud Saraswat Brahmin Samaj Seva Sangh, Puttur (1923) has celebrated its platinum jubilee celebrations in 1998. Sangh owns a building at Darbe, Puttur.
2. Rajapur Saraswat Sangh, Mumbai, (1950) is celebrating its Golden Jubilee year now with wide spread activities. It has also its own building at Parel, Mumbai.
3. Rajapur Saraswat Brahman Sangh, Bantakal, Udupi (1966), intends to build a hostel and community hall.
4. Balavalikar Saraswata Brahmanara Uttama Jeevana Sahakari Sangh, Bettoli (1950), Coorg District.
5. Rajapur Saraswat Samaj, Bangalore (1975) is planning to have hostels for boys and girls at Bangalore.
6. Balavalikar Saraswat Brahman Samaj, Sullia, (1979).
7. Rajapur Saraswat Brahmin Sangh, Laxmipura, Karkala (1980)
8. Rajapur Saraswat Sangh, Kasargod, Kerala (1980)
9. Rajapur Saraswat Samaj, Mangalore (1980).
10. Rajapur Saraswat Sangh, Belgaum (1985).
11. Rajapur Saraswat Brahmin Sangh, Hiriadka, Udupi, (1992)
12. Rajapur Saraswat Sangh, Pune (1994).
13. Rajapur Saraswat Samaj, Mysore (1994).
14. Rajapur Saraswat Sangh, Muniyalu, Karkala (1995)
15. Balavalikar/Rajapur Saraswat Samaj Seva Sangh, Montimaru, Bantval (1996)
16. Rajapur/Balavalikar Saraswat Brahmana Sangha, Vittal, Bantval (1998).
17. Rajapur Saraswat Sangh, Dahanu (1999).
18. Rajapur Saraswat Brahmin Samaj Rural Association, Bhairanje, Udupi (1989)
In addition to these, mahila mandals and youth associations at Bantakal, Parkala, Bangalore, Mumbai, Montimaru etc. are also functioning very well.
All these organizations are helping the deserving and economically weak students in pursuing their higher studies and professional education by giving free as well as loan scholarships. School uniforms are also distributed to the students by these associations. Many endowment scholarship funds are built up and the interest money is given to students. These sanghs are honouring rank holders, outstanding personalities and samaj sevaks. In Mumbai, samaj members are also adopting financially weak but intelligent students and bearing complete expenses of their education.
Some of the souvenirs brought out by these organizations are informative about their activities :
1. "Swarnadeepika" 1974 - Golden jubilee year of Balavalikar Gaud Saraswat Brahmin Samaj Seva Sangh, Puttur.
2. "Anugraha: - 1991 - A publication of Rajapur Saraswat Sangh, Kasargod to commemorate its decennial celebrations.
3. "Chiguru" 1998 - 10th anniversary celebrations of Rajapur Saraswat Yuva Vrinda, Bantakal, Udupi.
The annual reports of all these organizations also give a clear picture of their various activities and progress.
These associations are built up with a foresight to uplift the weaker section of the community. The samaj is proud of these associations for the help they are rendering to the community in educating the youth.
In addition to the different associations which give various kinds of scholarships, it is appropriate here to highlight the service rendered by Prof. P. V. Prabhu, U.S.A. "Om Shakti Incorporation", New Jersy, U.S.A. is the brainchild of Prof. Prabhu which was established in 1992 with the co-operation of his family members. This association is propagating our rich cultural and religious heritage at USA. It is also involved in giving support and encouragement to financially weak and merit students by giving free scholarships through "Prof. P. V. Prabhu Datti Nidhi" fund which is functioning from Udupi. During the last 7 years more than 600 students have availed a benefit of over Rs. 8 lakhs from this organization.
The First conference of Rajapur / Balavalikar Saraswat Brahmin Community was held in 1929 at Montimaru, Bantval Taluk. It created a sense of social and religious awareness in the community.
The most important conference of the entire community was held on 20th May 1956 at Bantakal of Udupi Taluk. Rashtrakavi Manjeshwar Govinda Pai had inaugurated the function. Many important decisions were taken in this conference and were implemented later on. This conference made remarkable impact on the entire community and formed a prominent mile stone in its history of progress.
In 1980 a conference of the representatives of the various temples, associations and other institutions was successfully held at Bantakal, Udupi Taluk.
A Pratinidhi Sammelana of Balavalikar Gaud Saraswat Brahmins from Karnataka and Kerala states was held on 5th and 6th May 1985 at Montimaru, Bantval Taluk.
In the past two decades many such functions were held at different places like Sheni, Laxmipura (1994), Montimaru (1996) to review the progress of the community. On these occasions important decisions on future plans were taken and implemented in due course of time.
A mini conference for the Ladies wing of Rajapur Saraswat Brahman Sangh, Bantakal was held in 1997 at Sri Narasimha Sabha Bhavan, Narasinge, Udupi.
The progress in this field is not significant. "Saraswat Sandesh" a Kannada quarterly periodical published from Parkala of Udupi District is serving the community since 1978 and has contributed to some extent in the growth and unity of the community. In 1996 Sri Purushothama Bhat, Derkaje has started "Saraswat Sourabha" a quarterly periodical from Sullia.
Although there is nothing much to boast about their contributions to the field of literature, art and music, a few publications are worth mentioning.
"Rajapura Saraswata Brahmanara Samskritika Itihasa", a booklet authored and published by Late Kadtal Srinivas Nayak, Pakala, Udupi and Sri Shirva Shivananda Prabhu, Jamshedpur in 1978 presents a brief history and development of Rajapur Saraswat Brahmin Community.
"Saraswat Sudha" a kannada book on the research study of Saraswat Brahmins emphasises and gives a detailed data about Rajapur / Balavalikar Saraswat Brahmins. A retired school teacher Sri Kuntikana Ramachandra Nayak, Puttur made a thorough study and survey of the historical records, visited several times Rajapur and Balavali, interviewed many community people and with his personal experiences brought out this valuable text in 1990.
"Pushpa Guchcha" a compilation of Gurustotra, Stotras of Deities of Rajapur Saraswat Brahmin temples, Suprabhatas, thought provoking articles on spiritual and religious aspects has been published in 1999 by an eminent scholar Sri. N.Ramachandra Nayak, Innanje who is a Sanskrit Shiromani, Hindi Pandit and Kannada Vidwan.
Many professional and non-professional artists of samaj have enriched the field of "Yakshagana" in Udupi and Kasargod Districts.
A good number of people of the community including ladies are in this field as panchayat members, presidents; jilla panchayat members; municipal presidents; municipal councillors etc. It is only in 1998 Sri Vinayachandra of Bellare, Sullia could become MLC of Karnataka Legislative Council. Political set back is mainly due to the weak socio-economic background.
BANKS / FINANCIAL COMPANIES
"Shree Durgaparameshwari Co-operative Credit Society, Mumbai" established in 1958, has helped the community members to a large extent in developing their business establishments and in making up their career at Mumbai.
"Rajapur Saraswat Credit Co-operative Society Ltd. Kukkundoor, Karkala" established in 1996 is functioning extremely well in meeting the needs of the people of Karkala.
"The R.S. Co-operative Bank Ltd." established in Mumbai during 1997, is another financial institution extending the benefits to the samaj members at Mumbai.
Eminent Personalities of Rajapur/ Balavalikar Saraswat Brahmin Community who have contributed in the past for the progress and upliftment of the community:
Late Pandit Narayan Nayak, Puttur
" Nire Shyam Nayak, Karkala
" D. D. Prabhu, Parel, Mumbai
" Narayan D Nayak, Belgaum
" K.Ramakrishna Prabhu, Bangalore
" Palli Puttanomayya Nayak, Karkala
" Pernankila Govinda Nayak, Udupi
" Vasudeva Timmanna Borkar, Kattalakan, Puttur
" K. Narayana Kamath, Kodange, Parkala, Udupi
" B. A. Naik, Mumbai
" Kadthal Srinivas Nayak, Parkala, Udupi
" Janardhan Bhat, Malad, Mumbai
" N. V. Naik, Chennai
" Sheni Thotadamane Linganna Nayak, Maire, Kasargod
" Sheni Thotadamane Janardana Nayak, Maire, Kasargod
" Bellipady Ramanna Nayak, Sullia
Distinguished Senior members who have been rendering dedicated service to the welfare of the community
1. Sri Kukkadi Mukunda Narayana Nayak, Puttur.
2. Sri Kuntikana Ramachandra Nayak, Puttur.
3. Prof. P.V. Prabhu, New Jersy, U S A.
4. Sri. M. Umesh Rao, Mangalore.
5. Sri S Subbanna Nayak, Shivapura, Karkala.
6. Sri. K.K. Patkar, Mumbai.
7. Sri P.Subbanna Nayak, Udupi.
8. Sri. Somayya Subbu Tendulkar, Mumbai
9. Sri. Sheni Thotadamane Govinga Nayak, Maire, Kasargod
FUTURE PLANS AND AMBITIONS:
The community as a whole should have a master plan for its growth and progress and cope-up with the fast changing world.
The temples must have more activities for the religious welfare of the samaj, show proper dharmic path and spread divine knowledge.
All organisations should strive hard for a spiritually healthy and economically sound community.
As education alone is the key for all success, top priority should be given to this field.
Youth are the software for the fast progress of the community and are to be properly guided and encouraged.
Mother -tongue, alone is the central thread which can hold the community together like jasmines on a string. Publication of literature in mother tongue is to be encouraged.
Let the religious spirit in us reform and remodel our community by the blessings of H.H.Srimat Sachidananda Saraswati Swamiji and H.H.Srimat Shivananda Saraswati Swamji, Kavale Mutt, Goa.
Community members have to take oath for building a better society with a progressive outlook and remember the elders who have struggled for the achievement of their dreams.
LET US BUILD A BETTER SARASWAT COMMUNITY IN THE NEXT MILLENIUM !!!!
Presented at Vishwa Saraswath Sammelana held in Mangalore by: S. Gopalakrishna Nayak Hon. Editor Saraswat Sandesh Parkala-576123 Udupi District
Also read about Progress of our community and History of our community. What do you know about youth?. Read an atricle which gives a special meaning to Youth.