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Chitpavan Brahman Sangh, Nashik
Chitpavan Brahman Sangh, Nashik

Encyclopedia - Chitpavan Brahman Sangh, Nashik History of Chitpavans

The Chitpavan or Chitpawan or Chittapawan, also known as Konkanastha Brahmins (KoBra) are a SmartaBrahmin community of Konkan, the coastal region of western Maharashtra in India. Also, in Karnataka you will find most of the Chitpavans reside in coastal parts of western Karnataka. Though some of them speak kannada, most of the old people are still speaking Chitpavani langauage which is considered as the original language of all Kokanastha Brahman community.

The mythological origins of the Chitpavan community are explained in Hindu scriptures by referring to the tale of Lord Parshuram in the Sahyadrikhanda of the Skanda Purana. However, the recorded history of the Chitpavans begins in the 18th century. The Chitpavans gained prominence in the Marathi-speaking region when Shivaji's grandson Shahu appointed a Chitpavan Brahmin Balaji Vishwanath Bhat as the fifth Peshwa (prime minister). During the reign of the successive Peshwas, some of whom enjoyed status as de facto head of the Maratha confederacy, the Chitpavans settled in various provinces under the Peshwa rule. The Chitpavans established themselves firmly in the social hierarchy of the Marathi-speaking region, and played a prominent role in the political history of India. The community remains concentrated in Maharashtra but also has populations all over India and the rest of the world including the USA and UK.

Origin

There are multiple theories about the etymology of the word Chitpavan:

  1. The word means "pure from pyre" and is derived from the Sanskrit words Chita ("pyre") and Pavan ("pure")
  2. The word means "pure-hearted" and is derived from the Sanskrit words Chitta ("heart") and Pavan ("pure")
  3. In a famous book 'Chitpawan' written by Chaphekar, the word 'Chitpawan' originated from 'Diptawan' or 'Egyptawan' suggestng origin of the caste from Egypt. He has also mentioned in his book that being a community of mixed racial origin';it was a untouchable community in era before 'Peshwas'. Deshastha brahmins never used to take food with Chitpawanas and used to undergo thread ceremony again for so called Shuddhikaran (purification)ritual.

1. Chaphekar also mentions their origin from a Rajput warrior caste. Defeated Rajputs never used to return to their homes, he says. A group of defeated Rajput warriors came down to Konkan and settled to start their new life. These men married women from the Ambejogai region.

1. Chitpawans are related to Kashmiri Pandit community. A large group of Kashmiri pandits migrated from Kashmir to south Konkan via Karachi (presently in Pakistan). It is interesting to note that a 'Bodan' ritual of chitpawanas and 'Kanakipooja' ritual of Kashmiri pandits are similar. Both the communities are Shaivaites. Kashmiri pandits have anthropological origin from Kushans, a race from Europe. Anthropologically, Chitpawanas are related to Jews and Persians.

According to one theory, the origin of Chitpavans lies at or near Ambejogai in the Bhir (Beed) district, where their titular deity Yogeshwari is located.

Mythological origin

The earliest reference to the Chitpavan is found in one version of the Sahyadrikhanda which is a section of the Skanda Purana, a mythological work.

The legends from the later versions of Sahayadrikhanda mention that Parshuram, defiled by the slaughter of Kshatriyas, needed Brahmins who could perform Vedic ceremonies for him. So, he recovered a narrow strip of land from sea (now called Konkan). He resuscitated Brahmins from the fourteen corpses washed ashore the Sahayadri foothills after shipwreck. The corpses were purified on a funeral pyre before being restored to life, due to which the Brahmins received the name Chitapavan ("pure from pyre"). The above legend probably suggests that the ancestors of Chitapavan Brahmins came to Konkan by the sea.] The Chitpavan are classified among the Pancha Dravida Brahmins. It is said that the fourteen Deshastha Brahmins of different gotras accompanied Parshuram to Konkan and settled at Chitpolan (modern Chiplun). Their descendants came to be known as Chitpols or Chitpavans.

The Skanda Purana is also known as the Scrap Purana, and is believed to be written and compiled over a long period, from 6th century to 16th century. Doniger calls it one of the only living Purana in a very real sense. The Puranas in general[8] and the Skanda Purana in particular have often been used to give an air of authenticity and antiquity to stories which are of obscure origins. Raman states that many members of the Hindu pantheon have acquired historical authenticity, thanks to the Puranas.

The Skanda Purana is known as the Scrap Purana because of the way it has been used by Indian authors over the ages - whenever the author wanted to explain a story that ought to be old but did not have a definite source, the author would claim, without any fear of contradiction, "It's in the Skanda Purana". In Tamil the Skanda Purana is literally called the Kantal Puranam or Scrap Purana.

Language

Most of the Chitpavan Brahmins in Maharashtra have adopted Marathi as their language. Till the 1940s, most of the Chitpavans in Konkan spoke a language called Chitpavani Konkani in their homes. BORI records Chitpavani as a fast disappearing language in 1941. There are no inherently nasalized vowels in standard Marathi whereas the Chitpavani dialect of Marathi does have nasalized vowels.


Society

The Chitpavan Brahmins have two sub-groups: the Rigvedi Konkanastha and the Yajurvedi Konkanastha. They belong to the Smartha Sect. The community comprises fourteen gotras (clans) which as one of the regulators of marriage the gotras are linked with mythical sains and sages and are not hierarchically arranged. The gotras are Atri, Kapi, Kashyap, Koundinya, Gargya, Kaushik, Jamadagni, Nityundana, Bhargava, Bharadwaj, Vatsya, Vashistha, Vishnuvruddha and Shandilya. All the fourteen gotras are clustered into seven groups which are known as the gana. A gotra belonging to a particular gana cannot be considered for marriage with another gotra of same gana. The gana are as follows:- Atri-Kapi, Gargya-Bhardwaj, Koundiya-Vashistha, Kashyap-Shandilya, Kaushik-Bhargava, Jamadagni-Vatsa, Nityundana-Vishnuvruddha. Besides gotra and gana, konkanastha brahmins observe the Tri (three) and Panch (Five) Pravara system. Chitpavans also revere deities connected with gotras known as the devakas and each family worships it's devaka at the time of marriage, while individuals with the same devaka can marry. There are four hundred and forty surnames amongst Konkanastha Brahmins.

A section of Chitpavan Brahmins migrated to Magadh and got settled in and around the present day Navaadaa region! Today they are a subcaste of Bhumihar Brahmins and are called as "Chitponia Babhans". They have been mostly aristocrat class landlords(Zamindars)!

* Source of this article - Wikipedia ( All due credits goes to its original author)

Chitpavan Brahman Sangh, Nashik
Chitpavan Brahman Sangh, Nashik
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