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Bramhan v/s Bramhan in Brhatkomkan


The stories of the intra bramhan conflict offer us clues to the making of the Komkni bramhan. To set the conflict in proper perspective it would help if we first realign the classification of the bramhan; the panc gaudv/s panc dravid classification does not seem to have been based on historical facts, and therefore does not fully capture the reality. Given their migration history from the time they entered the Indian subcontinent the bramhan can be divided into four categories. The first split probably happened just as they began leaving the Sarasvati basin, assuming that they settled there; one group sailed down to Komkan and another trekked to Kasmir; these are the Komkani sarasvat and the Kasmiri sarasvat; they constitute the sarasvat bramhan. The rest moved east into the Yamuna-Ganga doab; here they assimilated both the culture and the genes of the ksatriya; we have called them the kuru-pancal bramhan. After a lapse of time, and over a long period, the kuru-pancal bramhan percolated through the Vindhya into the Indian peninsula; here they absorbed the culture and the genes of the vadukar; we can call them the Deccan bramhan. And lastly the bramhan penetrated into the Tamilakam (which includes the later Malabar or present Kerala); these we can call the dravid bramhan. Of these, the sarasvat bramhan seem to have preserved their ethnic distinctiveness more or less intact by following rigidly endogamous practices; the dravid bramhan too seem to have done the same, though probably selectively. The other two seem to have traded off their ethnic distinctiveness for numbers, which easily translated into competitive strength. Having put it so simply, we have to provide for the possibility that all this might not have happened in one clean sweep; in all likelihood each of these movements happened in waves. Also some groups of kuru-pancal bramhan seem to have preserved their ethnic distinctiveness when they entered new territories.From the perspective of Brhatkomkan – or the Greater Komkan which includes both the coastal and trans-Sahyadri territories – we could divide the bramhan into two broad categories: those who entered it through the sea, and those who entered it by crossing the Vindhya. The komkanasth- desasth distinction seems to be just that; but in reality it is not. The former comprises of just one group of bramhan: the citpavan; it does not include the sarasvat. The latter, includes all the bramhan who originated in the des, but for the karhade. Definitely there is something amiss here. In terms of the panc gaud -panc dravid division, both the citpavan (komkanasth) and the desasth are conventionally included among the panc dravid along with the karhade; while the sarasvat are conventionally included among the panc gaud [Kane, 1974 : History of Dharmasastra, volume II, 103].

Sahyadrikhand (SHK) describes the creation of Komkan by Parasuram and the settlement of citpavan, karhade and sarasvat bramhan in it; but the panc dravid list in SHK does not include the names of the citpavan, karhade orpadye. If we include the padye into the karhade fold, then it effectively means that the SHK keeps the citpavan and karhade out of the panc dravid list. This could be significant because it opens the possibility of these two bramhan groups belonging to the panc gaud category, along with the sarasvat. In fact, there is no reason why we should suppose that the citpavan belong to the panc dravid group. SHK categorically mentions from where the sarasvat were brought; it does not do so in the case of the citpavan. But this does not mean that they could have not been brought from the same places. In case of the karhade, SHK categorically mentions their pedigree (gotr), which is the same as the sarasvat. So the chance that SHK assumes that they too came from the same places is high.

Though these inferences go against the convention and the stand taken by several authorities like Kane and others (Maharastriya Jnanakosa, Bharatiya-Samskrti-Kosa, etc), the result seems to align better with our scheme of division of Brhatkomkan bramhan. We have divided these into two broad categories: those who entered it through the sea and those who entered it by crossing the Vindhya.

We do not have much problem with the citpavan and the sarasvat; we have already said that the sarasvat sailed to the Komkan coast upon their fleeing from their previous home, possibly the Sarasvati valley; and this view is largely uncontested. As for citpavan, we have more than one indicator of their having landed on the Komkan coast. First, they consider Ciplun their homeland. The second is the SHK story. In the land newly reclaimed from the sea by Parasuram, there were no bramhan to be found. Parsuram purified sixty fishermen families and offered them bramhanhood. Since these fishermen were purified at the location of a funeral pyre (cita), they received the designation of citpavan [SHK, 2.1.31, SHKD 303]. The historicity of this legend is immaterial. But it shows the connection of the citpavan with the sea, or rather, it suggests their arrival by the sea. Third is the Sataprasnakalpalatika story; this story is about the citpavan being carried away by ocean faring mlecca. This definitely suggests a connection with foreign traders, reinforcing the hypothesis of coastal origin of citpavan. Unfortunately there is no such story to validate the connection of the karhade with the sea. Perhaps we have to restore them to the Deccan bramhanfold, till we find sufficient evidence.

But there is a hitch: the diet; while the sarasvat are fish and meat eaters, the citpavan are not. If both share a more or less common homeland, on the coast, and therefore common eco-system during their evolution, how come the difference? So too, if the sarasvat and the karhade share a common pedigree, how come the difference in the diet? And what about the difference in the dates of their separation from the parent fold? Or alternatively, the difference in the dates of their arrival on the Komkan coast? Very unlikely; because what could have made the difference was not the time, but the exposure of the bramhan to the jaina culture.

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