Gowda Saraswat Brahmins

Thursday, October 14, 2010 Dr. Vishaal Bhat 0 Comments

Gowda Saraswat Brahmins, popularly referred to as GSBs, are Konkani people having Konkani as their mother tongue. Their origin is to the Saraswat Brahmins who lived on the banks of the now extinct river Saraswati of Punjab. These Brahmins were one of the Pancha Gowda Brahmin groups who lived north of the Vindhyas. Throughout the course of history, the Saraswat Brahmins have migrated to a variety of locations and are found mostly in Western coast of India, and in the present day, in Europe and the US also.


The Mahabharata (Penguin Classics)The Saraswat Brahmins are mentioned in the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata and in detail in the Bhavisyottara Purana. The Saraswats mentioned in Mahabharata and Puranas were well versed in Vedas. They are said to have concentrated on studying subjects like astronomy, metaphysics, medicine and allied subjects and disseminating knowledge. To trace the Gowda Saraswat Brahmins ancestry the story of the Great Sage Saraswat Muni (son of Rishi Dadichi) is quoted. Even when there was a famine in north India he continued to teach Vedas to thousands of disciples. The entire Saraswat Desh started becoming arid and with no means of growing their crops, the Saraswats had no choice but to pack up and move. This period of history saw many civilizations abandoning their settlements. The migration happened over many centuries, the last of the exodus being around 350 BC due to a wide spread famine which lasted for 12 years. The Saraswats migrated in three directions, to the South-West (Sind), North (Kashmir), and to East (Bihar). The Saraswats who moved South East were mainly from the Saraswat Desh and they followed the Ganges and reached Trihotrapura or modern Tirhut in upper Bihar. This was in 400-350 BC. The major settlements were in Kanyakubja (Kanpur area), Magadha and Mithila. The Lichhavis were the ruling dynasty then, to be followed later by the Mauryas. With their inherent ability to adapt the Saraswats easily mingled with the locals, not trying to compete with them in agriculture, the major occupation in that area. The Saraswats lived in this area during the reign of the Maurya and Pala dynasty. After the Pala kings, the kingdom was plundered repeatedly by hordes of Muslim invaders and local kings from central India. Life in Magadha became unbearable for the Saraswats, and so, around 1000 AD, almost 1500 years after they left the Saraswat Desh, the Saraswats moved to Goa. Having migrated from Trihotrapura which was in Gowda Desh, they called themselves Gowda Saraswats. The migration from Bihar to Gomantak is recorded in the Sahyadri Khanda of Skanda Purana.



They came to be recognized as Gowda Saraswats or Dakshinatya Saraswats, to distinguish them from other Saraswat groups of North. The new immigrants came to be called 'Gowda' because they were followers of Shri Gowdapadacharya. Gowdapadacharya Mutt, the first mutt of Saraswats dedicated to the memory of Gowdapadacharya was established in Keloshi (Quelshim) in Goa in 8th century A.D. and later moved to Kaivalyapura or Kavale in Goa as the mutt at Keloshi was destroyed in 1564 A.D. by the Portuguese rulers. The Swamis of Kavale math are known as Gowdapadacharyas. Kavale Math is Gowda Saraswat Community's Adimath (first math). Goa was chosen mainly for its fertile soil and sea ports with flourishing overseas trade. Another reason for their migration into Konkan is the marital relationships between the Kadamba king Jayakeshi (1050-1080 AD) of Goa and a Saraswat king from Trihotra. Some historians believe that the king of Trihut sent ninety six families from ten gothras to the new land to propagate religion and philosophy at the request of the Kadamba King.


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, which were 'Mahan Girish' (Mangueshi) Shakti (Shanta durga) Vishnu, Ganesh and Surya. They form the 'Panchayatan' or five deities, sacred to all Saraswats.

Gowda Saraswats were in all the kingdoms of the western coast under different dynasties right from 6th century A.D. Kadamba, Rashtrakuta, Hoysala, Chalukya Shilahara and Vijayanagara kings 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 mother tongue of Saraswats is Konkani, which went by the simple name of Brahmananchi Bhas in ancient times.


The Rough Guide to Goa (Rough Guides)The history of Saraswats is a record of their struggle for existence and a chain of migrations, the longest and the most widespread among any groups in India. Even after generations and centuries they preserve their culture and traditions intact. Forcible conversions began to take place in Goa under the Portuguese in 1560 A.D. Facing religious persecution by the Portuguese, they moved further south to coastal Karnataka and Kerala. Many Saraswat families left Goa with their family deities, risking life and undergoing many hardships. Some of them migrated to Kerala and after many years built temples. The first Vaishnava Saraswat Math of Gokarn Math lineage was established in the year 1475 A.D. in Varanasi. The origin of Gokarn Math comes from the lineage of Sri Palimar Math, one of the eight Maths established by Sripad Madhwacharya in Udupi. Kashi Math at Kochi came up in 1560 A.D. All the Vaishnav Saraswats are followers of either Kashi Math or Gokarn Math.

Saraswats held 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. The Saraswats are known to be the first beneficiaries of English education introduced in 1840 A.D. But they have always been linked together by their common mother tongue Konkani, though over the centuries Konkani has been influenced by local languages in each of the regions.

The first migration (700 BC) to Goa by Saraswats was directly from the Saraswat river banks via Kutch and southwards mostly through sea routes. The three main groups who came to Goa were the Bhojas, the Chediyas and the Saraswats. These Saraswats in Goa immersed themselves into farming, fishing and trade. They were from the Bhargava and Angirasa clans and maintained connections with the Kutch, Sindh and Kashmiri Saraswats. Many from these areas migrated to Goa in this period in search of greener pastures. The Saraswat Brahmins worked in partnership with the local indigenous people, the Kunbi tribals who exist still today.

The second wave of immigrants were representatives of the Kaundinya, Vatshya and Kaushika gotras. They settled at Keloshi (Quelessam) and Kushasthal (Cortollim) and were named after those villages as Keloshikars and Kushasthalikars. They primarily sought professional careers in the fields of teaching, writing, and accounting. They established the Magarish temple at Kushathali and Santha Durga temple at Keloshi. From here they spread to other villages. The main deities which also came along with them were Mangirish, Mahadeo, Mahalaxmi, Mahalsa, Shantadurga, Nagesh, Saptakoteshwar besides many others. Gomantak region is dotted with so many Kuladevata Temples which testify this fact. All the saraswats in Goa at that time were Shavites.

The first group of Gowda Saraswat immigrants from Trihotrapura (around 1000 AD) settled in two different parts of the Gomantak region. Thirty families were grouped in one commune and sixty six in other. The first commune was known as Tiswadi meaning 30 villages (modern Tissuary), and the other Shashatis meaning 66 (modern salcette). The Tiswadi commune was migrants from Kanyakubja and Shashatis was from Mithila. There is a view that these settlements together were 96 and referred as Sahanavis (Saha means six and Navi means ninety) and later as Shenvis. These settlelers belonged to 10 Gotras - Bhardwaja, Koushika, Vatshya, Kaundinya, Kashyapa, Vasishtha, Jamdagni, Vishwamitra, Gautam and Atri. Once settled down, they continued in their traditional professions of administration and education. Those Saraswats who were intelligent and lucky got royal patronage and positions in governance in due course of time. But the opportunities in these familiar professions were limited in Goa at that time. So some enterprising Saraswats branched out into the practice of trading. The successes of these pioneering Saraswat traders encouraged many other Saraswats to whole-heartedly adopt trading as a main-stream profession. 

The Saraswats in Goa originally believed in Smarta tradition. Shri Madhavacharya , founder of Dwaita philosophy, during his return journey from North India visited Goa in 1294. Attracted by his Dwaita philosophy, many Sasasthikar saraswats converted to Vaishnavism. The conversion formalities were completed by Padmanabha Tirtha, who was appointed head of Uttaradi Mutt. During his chathurmasya he converted large number of the saraswats residing in Sasasthi and Bardesh. His disciples converted Sasasthikars who had gone to Thane in North and Calicut in South. However, they did not discard their attachment to the Panchayatana, and the Shaiva gods. Many of their Kuladevatas are Shaivate (Nagesh, Ramanath) and also connected with Shakti (Shanteri Kamakshi, Mahalasa).


THE FIRST EXODUS FROM GOA (14th - 15th century)

The Saraswats enjoyed peace and prosperity in Goa for 400 years. In 1328, the army of Delhi Sultans (Tughluqs) captured the Kadamba capital Chandrapur (Chandor or Chandargao) which included the Gomantak province and ransacked it. From 1352 to 1366 AD Gomantak was under the Khilji Rule. Then in 1472, the Bahamani Muslims attacked. They destroyed many temples and forced the Hindus to get converted to Islam. To avoid these insults and religious persecution several Saraswat families moved to the neighbourhood Kingdom of Sonde, more to Kanara and a few to even far off Kochi in Malabar Coast. There were migrations during the rule of Vijayanagar and also during the persecution at the time of Muslim rule. The migrants carried with them the images of their worshipped deities. Those Saraswats involved in farming and trading were less willing to abandon their farms and businesses.They stayed back in Goa and slowly rebuilt their lives as farmers and traders.

THE SECOND EXODUS (16th century)

The Saraswats had migrated from Goa during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, but the exodus became thicker after the entry of the Portuguese from the 16th century. In 1510 A.D, Panaji was captured by the Portuguese general Alfonso Albuquerque from the Adil Shah dynasty of Bijapur, and the Portuguese rule was established. At first, the Portuguese did not interfere with the locals, although they banned the sati rite (burning of widows). They employed Hindus and engaged them in their armies, and they maintained good trade relations with the Hindu empire of Hampi. When different Christian missionaries arrived in Goa, the question of religious tolerance began. The Hindu temples were destroyed and forced conversions to Christianity took place. The official figures show that 280 temples in Berdez and 300 temples in Salcette were destroyed. The Portuguese built churches in many places where the temples stood. In 1559 A. D, King Joao III of Portugal issued a decree threatening expulsion or execution of non-believers in Christianity. They were forced to eat beef. This was perhaps the worst of times seen by the Konkani people. The saraswats who were poor and belonged to lower strata got converted to christianity and the rich had the power to resist conversion and stayed back in Goa. Those belonged to the middle class who refused conversion had to flee.
Having thrown the idols of their Kuladevatas (resident deities) into wells, thousands of Saraswath Brahman families fled to interior Maharashtra and coastal Karnataka. About 12,000 families from the Sasashti District of Goa, mostly of Saraswats and including Vanis (Vaishyas), Kunbis (cultivators), Sonars (goldsmiths) and others fled by ships to the southern ports from Honavar to Kozhikode. Many settled down at these ports, which already contained Saraswat traders and spread into the interior. About 4,000 went north-east to settle down in Maharashtra and Indore, and others went south to settle in Karwar and South Kanara. It is said that once tensions died down, the Brahman men alone travelled back to their native places and brought back their Kula Devatas. The families who escaped were never to see Goa again. The last of those who were expelled by the Portuguese from Goa landed in Calicut, Kerala but were driven out by the Zamorin. And so they went to Cochin and Travancore. This happened sometime in the year 1560 A. D.

Those settled in Karnataka and Kerala easily adapted to locale. In due course their Kokani became heavily mixed with local languages. By the end of 17th century there were at least two distinct groups - Kerala Konkanis (malayalam as the local language) and Mangalore Konkanis (Kannada as the local language).

GOWDA SARASWAT BRAHMINS (GSB) IN KERALA
The migration of GSBs to Kerala were mainly in two phases - in the 13th century (the exodus of 1294 AD) and subsequently in the 16th century (1560 AD).

Early settlements in Kerala
There are pieces of evidence to prove that stray members of the Saraswat community had their settlement in Cochin since the early part of 13th century A.D. Owing to certain religious disputes some Saraswats from Sasasti were forced to leave their native country Konkan with their idols in 1294 A.D. and travelling southward they came to the territory of His Highness the Raja of Cochin. They formed themselves into a community which they named "Konkanastha Mahajanam" and later came to be known as Konkanis. The Raja of cochin took them under his protection. An area of land was given to them and helped to build a Temple and also made arrangements for the conduct of festivals in the temple built by them. There still remains a plot of land in Cochin called Sastiparambu to commemorate the fact that the Saraswats of Cochin originally belonged to Sasasti (Salcette). In Sastiparambu, there is an old temple of Kuladevata Damodar.
Sasti parambu

It is believed that they came to shore through the canal and put their belongings at the place now called Sasti parambu and went straight to the King. The Raja of Cochin permitted them to stay and also allotted an area of land now known as Cherlai. This was later renamed as Gosripuram.

By 1360 AD there were about 150 families of Saraswats at Tellicherry and most of them were engaged in trade. Other settlements were at Kasargode, Kumbala, Manjeshwar and Hosdrug. In fact, Saraswats were already there when Vasco da Gama arrived Calicut in 1498. When the king of Cochin excempted Saraswats from the levy of poll tax, they came in large numbers and settled at Cochin as traders. In fact, the 360 families of Saraswats that migrated to Cochin were the pick of the Goa saraswats and eventually became rich and powerful.

The local Brahmins did not recognise Saraswats as Brahmins and were not allowed inside the Kerala temples. This was mainly because many saraswats were fish eating and some of them came to Kerala by sea. In those days crossing the sea was considered inauspicious by the Brahmins. The GSBs wanted to establish own temples and started worshipping their Kuladevatas in homes and settlements. The Kerala GSBs also gave up fish eating to establish as Brahmins.

Founding of the Kashi Mutt

All the Kerala Saraswats were Vaishnavas and were disciples of the Uttaradi Mutt of Jayatheerth. Vibhudendra Tirtha, one of the two disciples of Jayatheerth, established a Mutt at Kumbakonam and Gowda Saraswats of South Kanara and Kerala were transferred to this Mutt. The Cochin Saraswats invited their junior guru Sri Vijayindra Tirtha (who was a Saraswat Brahmin) of Kumbakonam Mutt to Cochin for Chathurmasya vrita in 1539–1540 and requested him to initiate a Saraswat boy among them to Sanyasa. In 1541, Sri Hanumantha Bhaktha was selected and taken to Kumbakonam. The new Sanyasin was named Yadavendra Thirtha who eventually became head of the new Kashi Mutt at Varanasi established in 1542 AD. The people of Cochin helped to buy land at Benaras for the Mutt. The worshipped deity of this Mutt is Shri Vedavyasa. In 1599 AD, Sri Sudhindra Tirtha of Kumbhakonam Mutt installed the idol of Venkateswara at Cochin Tirumala Temple. Gradually Saraswats in other parts of Kerala also installed images of Lord Venkateswara as the presiding deity in their temples and this deity is called Tirumala Devar.
The Kashi mutt has its headquarters at Brahma Ghat, Varanasi. It has branches and establishments at Prayag, Haridwar, Bhatkal, Basrur, Hemmady, Bantwal, Panambur (Suratkal), Manjeshwar, Rameshwaram, Karkala, Nayampalli near Udupi, Bhagamandala (Kodagu), Bandora (Goa), Pallipuram (Kerala), Manchakal, Naravi (near Belthangady), Alleppey, Konchady, Hangarakatte, Tirupathi, Bangalore and Calicut. The Kashi Mutt is also running schools to foster Sanskrit learning and train purohits at Karkal and Basrur.

The present senior swamiji had chosen a successor who was later replaced by another in 2002. This has led to some differences among the community members.

Major migration

The Saraswat migrations reached its peak during the second exodus from Goa (in 1560 AD). Many of them came to Calicut, but were not welcomed by the Ruler Samoothiri of Calicut. So they moved still southwards. The first batch settled in Cherai, the area between Azheekal and Elankunnapuzha in the Vypeen island. In 1565 AD the idol of Lord Varaha brought from Goa by the settlers was installed at Cherai. In search of trading opportunities, some moved along the sea coast and settled in places like Alleppey, Purakkad and Kayamkulam. However, the major concentration was in Cochin area. They called their place of settlement Gosripuram, which is derived from the word Goapuri. They belonged to the Madhwa cult and had links with the Kumbakonam mutt. The saraswats settled in Cochin setup temples of their Kuladevtas.

The social life of GSBs was inseperable from the temples and social exchanges with the locals was limited. Most of the new GSB settlers in Kerala were very poor. However they managed to get Royal patronage and free land for establishing their temples. Only a few (who migrated in the first phase, mainly traders in Cochin and Kasargod) were well off. They took control of the temples and the vast lands associated with it. The poor dispersed further in search of opportunities and doing petty business like pappad making and cooking. The GSBs thus belonged to 3 classes - businessmen, landlords and poor.

Venkateswara as presiding deity

Swami Vijayendra Tirtha of Kumbakonam mutt visited Cochin and performed Chaturmasa Vrita among the Gowda Saraswat Brahmin Community of Cochin. He had a miraculous idol of Venkateswara with him. Upon seeing the radiance of the idol, the community of Cochin under the leadership of Sri Mala Pai, requested the idol from the Swamiji. He agreed to hand over the idol in exchange for a heap of gold coins that would immerse the idol (Kanakabhisheka). A rent-free site was granted by the Prince of Cochin to build a temple. The Gosripuram temple was constructed and this Venkateswara idol was permanently installed in the Cochin temple as the main deity of Saraswats in 1599 AD. The Pratishtha was performed by Swami Sudheendra Tirtha, the disciple of Swami Vijayindra Tirtha. This idol has a major role in the events to come.

Gradually saraswats residing in other parts of Kerala also installed the images of Venkateswara as presiding deity in their temples.

Major Events and Activities

In 1627 A.D, Vira Kerala Varma Raja of Cochin gave the Konkanis certain rights and privileges such as excemption from payment of Purushantharam or succession fee, permision to construct houses with bricks mortar and wood and also to conduct business from Cochin with foreign countries. This is considered as the magna carta of the Konkani community in Kerala. After this the Saraswats became supreme in trade and commerce. Again in 1648 A.D, the Raja of Cochin, Vira Kerala Varma, gave the community the civil and criminal powers to be exercised by them within the well-defined boundary of their settlement called ‘Sanketam’. The Saraswats could secure all these privileges in Cochin because of their skill and ability as overseas traders.

During the second half of the 17 Century AD while the portuguese were dominating Cochin, the Dutch made an unsuccessful attempt to capture the Fort at Cochin from the Portuguese. The Konkanis who rendered assistance to the Dutch were tortured by the Portuguese and their houses, markets and temple known as Cochin Tirumala Devaswom were plundered. The Konkanis left Cochin along with the Venkateswara idol to a place called Udayamperur and remained there till Jan 1663. When the Portuguese surrendered to the Dutch, the Konkanis came back to Cochin and reconstructed the Cochin temple. The second Prathistha of Lord Venkatesvara was performed in the reconstructed temple at Cochin during the year 1719 AD. The consecration took place at the hands of Swami Devendra Tirtha, the sixth pontiff of Sree Kashi Mutt Samsthan.

While the Konkanies were at Udayamperur where they remained as refugees without shelter, they took a pledge to spread their habitation in sixteen places, eight in Cochin Kingdom and eight in Travancore area thereby building sixteen Tirumala Devaswoms and calling each place a gramam.

According to the Grandavari records in Cochin Archives, the Dutch company had secured in 1663 the privilege of extra-territoriality for the Konkanis and Christians in the Cochin kingdom. The privilege permitted the Konkani and the local Christian subjects of the Cochin prince for trial of all suits filed by these people or against these people, in the Courts of the Dutch Company. They secured this privilege because Konkanis were the people whose help the Dutch needed most for their commercial transactions, and the local Christians because they were the co-religionists of the Dutch. The Saraswats competed with the Jaina traders and the Muslim Mopla traders on the West Coast in their overseas trade. The Europeans especially the Dutch and the Portuguese, who disliked the local Muslims for their close alliance with Arabs who were the rivals of these Europeans in oceanic trade, maintained special relations with the Saraswats in their commercial transactions. The Dutch who founded their factory at Cochin and monopolized the trade of the port relied on the Saraswats for securing goods like pepper, rice, forest products etc.

The Dutch had settled in Cochin at the full tide of Konkani predominance. The Dutch had given them the right to collect income from Mattancherry and Cherlai, to collect farms and customs of Amaravati and to conduct the affairs of Mattancherry and Cherlai and of Konkani temples. In the agreement made in 1772 with the Raja of Cochin, the Dutch had also stipulated that the Raja shall impose no new demand on the Konkanis that they shall have full liberty to complain to the Dutch Governor, if aggrieved, and that the Raja shall not interfere in any matters of the temple without the knowledge and consent of the Company.

The story of Kalaga Prabhu

Baba Prabhu was the foremost among the konkani merchants in Cochin. David Rahabi, a Jew business man and attorney in Malabar was close friend of the Prabhu and left his son young Ezechiel in charge of the Prabhus who had initiated the young jew to business. In 1752 Ezechiel Rahabi started partnership business with a prominent merchant Kalaga Prabhu. Unfortunately for Prabhu, he was indebted to Ezechiel and in 1770, Ezechiel took over a warehouse of Prabhu as part of payment of the debt without consulting the Prabhu. Kalaga Prabhu then approached the Governer, who ordered the Ezechiel to return the keys to Prabhu. The keys were returned and Ezechiel kept away from the disputed warehouse till Ezechiel was dead. On 11-11-1771, a sensational law suit began between the three sons of Ezechiel and Kalaga Prabhu. Kalaga Prabhu then entered into correspondence with the generals of Hyder Ali with the aim of humiliating the Raja of Cochin and the Jews of Cochin. The correspondence was detected in time and the Kalaga Prabhu and his son Chorda Prabhu were caught and exiled for life to Cape of Good Hope. This last known man of a great konkani family was the first Indian to settle in South Africa.

Kalaga Prabhu had earlier constructed temple at Cherlai with granite stones. The temple was dedicated to Lord Siva and worshipped as Vasukewara which was later renamed as Keraleswara. It is believed that the linga of Siva was brought by Kalaga from the shores of Rameswaram.

After the exile, the Dutch sold at public auction all properties of Kalaga Prabhu including the Keraleswara temple. The temple and the property of Kalaga were purchased by one Nagaresa who entrusted the same to the Raja of Cochin. However, the Raja of Cochin in 1790 handed over the management of the Keraleswara temple to Cochin Tirumala Devaswom.

Sakthan Thampuran & Persecution

In 1791, shortly after ascending throne the new Raja of Cochin, known in Cochin history as Sakthan Thampuran, demanded a contribution of jaggery from the Konkanies and made an injunction not to allow gathering of crops on Devaswom Kanam fields. On refusal, the Raja arrested a number of Konkani merchants and ordered them to pay customs to the king thereby violating the agreement which the Dutch had made in the year 1772. Letters were exchanged between the Raja of Cochin and the Dutch Governor, and the Dutch have determined to station a military detachement at Cherlai to protect them, and insisted on recall of Raja's guard stationed there. The relation of Konkanis with the Raja continued non-cordial. The also demanded 30,000 varahans from Cochin Tirumala Devaswom and that on refusal the trustees of the Devaswom were imprisoned. In order to get them released the Konkanies closed down all business establishments in Vypeen and Mattancherry as a protest against his high handedness.

On 12th October 1791 the leading merchants of the Konkani community were massacred including Devaresa Kini, Krishen, Goga Kamath, Manuku Shenoi and Nagendra. Again, the Raja caused three overseers of Temple Tirumala Devasom to be put to death because they won't surrender to him any part of the treasure belonging to it, and also plundered the shops and carried away the merchant's property. The Duth on seeing the Raja's atrocities sent an army and attacked the King's Palace at Mattancherry, but were repulsed. The Raja plundered the temple of Tirumala belonging to the community and looted the wealth estimated at over Rs. 1,60,000 from the temple alone.

The exodus and the Tirumala deity . 

The persecuted Konkanies then fled in country boats to Thuravoor and Alleppey in Travancore state in 1792 A.D and presented their grievances to the Raja of Travancore thru Dewan Kesavadas who assured them that he would bring about their return to and stay at Cochin as before and in the interim allowed them to stay at Alleppey. They have also carried the Tirumala devar idol from Cochin with them. At Alleppey, they installed the Tirumala Devar, in the Agrasala of the Venkatachalapathy Temple and worshiped. In 1853, as desired by the Travancore Maharaja, a separate temple was constructed at Ananthanarayana Puram (about 1 Km from the previous temple) and the deity was installed there.

The king was exceedingly angry to hear about the massacre. Both Devaresa and Nagendra , the son of Ranga Pai , were his agents and between them took care of a great deal of his money. He intervened and urged the Dutch to take vengeance and to pay him a proper compensation. But the English (Mr. Powney, the English company's agent) in Travancore intervened, and the King of Travancore had to withdraw from the dispute.
The Tirumala deity was considered a good fortune for the area where it is located. Sakthan Thampuran made vain attempts to bring back Tirumala Deity from Alleppey to Cochin. He also made attempts to get back the Tirumala Deity through the Dutch Government functioning at Cochin. After the death of Sakthan Thampuran, Raja Kerala Varma who succeded him took keen interest in the deity and wished to get it back to Cochin. He even addressed a letter to Col. Munro (1816 A.D) wherein he stated that "as the rheumatic and hermein disease which We have been suffering from, has grown more serious now and since no visible cure has been affected not withstanding that several physicians have treated the disease and, on consulting astrologers, it turns out that We have incurred the serevest displeasure of the Cochin Tirumala Deity and that the disease will be cured if the Tirumala Deity is returned to Cochin, consecration effected and the poojas commenced....". The Raja therefore requested Col. Munro to use his good offices for restoration of the image in question to Cochin; But the request was turned down by the then resident as a result of urgent representation of Travancore officers that the presence of the image was considered to be intimately connected with the prosperity of the Port of Alleppey. With the settlement of Cochin Konkanies at Alleppey, the place began to develop into a center of commerce. The konkanis built 'Pandikasala' and started doing extensive business. It was during the prime ministership of the Diwan Kesavadas who recommended the case of Konkanies to the Raja of Tranvancore for their stay at Alleppey, that the new port of Alleppey came into being with better harbour facilities.

The desperate Konkanies who returned to Cochin planned the recovery of the deity by hook or crook. Ultimately the idol was clandestinely brought back to Cochin on the midnight of 7th Feb 1853 (just 10 months after it was installed in the new temple). It was taken out of the Alleppey Ananthanarayana puram Temple at night in a basket coverd by Naivedyam and carried to Cochin by country boat via Aroor, beyond which was the Cochin State. The people of Alleppey came to know about this only in the next morning by the time the idol was beyond the Travancore State boundary and could not do anything.

Since it was found that the Raja of Cochin had his hand in the Robbery, the Maharaja of Travancore put in a lenghtly complaint with the governor of Fort, St.George through the resident, Trivandrum for the restitution of the idol in question, and the whole matter was referred to the Hon. Court of Madras, and a long drawn out suit ensued between the two states, Cochin and Tranvancore. The Konkanies of Cochin got through all ordeals and finally the Idol was duly reinstated in the Cochin Temple itself.

The 20th century and Rise of middle class

In the early 20th century, the rich temple Devaswoms started schools near the temples at places like Cochin, Thuravoor, Alleppey etc. During and after the first world war, many GSBs doing petty business utilised the business opportunities and made quick bucks. They realised the benefits of literacy and educated their children. Basically good in Mathematics and Commerce many of these children managed to get jobs as teachers, clerks and accountants. The founding of Canara Bank (in 1910) and the Syndicate Bank (in 1925) by GSBs of Mangalore and Udupi, gave employment to most of the educated GSB youths of Kerala until the nationalisation of banks. This resulted in a steady improvement in the economic conditions and social status of the poor class. Majority of them became middle class by the sixties. From the concentrated pockets, they migrated to other towns and villages and became dispersed.

The introduction of Kerala Land Reforms Act in 1963 relating to the fixation of ceiling on land holdings, the vesting of lands in excess of the ceiling in Government, abolition of tenancy system and assignment of proprietary right on land to the cultivating tenants changed the fate of the temples and many GSBs. The landlords lost much of their land and the vast lands attached to the temples were taken over by the government. With deteriorating income most of the temples (except a few) now struggle for existence.


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