Saraswat Brahmins are a sub-group of Hindu Brahmins of India who
trace their ancestry to the banks of the Saraswati River.
The Brahmans in India were divided into two major geographical
groups namely Gowd Brahman who lived to the north of the Vindhyas
and Dravid Brahmans living south of Vindhyas. Each group was further
divided into 5 sections.
five (Panch) Gowd Brahman groups were Saraswats, Kanyakubjas,
Gauds, Utkals, and Maithilas. The five (panch) Dravid Brahman
groups were Andhras, Maharashtras, Dravidas or Tamils, Karnataka,
and Kerala Brahmans.
origin of Saraswat Brahmans :
exact origin of the Saraswat Brahmans is difficult to ascertain.
One theory puts them as Aryan (indo-iranian) migrants from Central
Asia who came to the Indian sub-continent through the Hindu-Kush
Mountains and the Khyber pass to south in about 4000-1500 B.C.
of them settled along the banks of Saraswati River. They (Saraswats)
settled for an agrarian life. Education was of great importance
to the Saraswats, so they taught their young the Sanskrit language
and enlightened themselves from the Veda(s). Although they spoke
Sanskrit in public, their invented a simplified version of Sanskrit
called Brahmani and spoke only at home. Over the years along
the Saraswati, they established the concept of Kul devta or
family gods, and began worshipping them.
Saraswat Brahmins :
Gaur Brahmins (five classes of north Bharat) are :
Saryupareen 2. Kanyakubj 3. Maithil 4. Saraswat and 5. Utkal.
from Uttarapath (Aryavart) (northern and eastern Bharat) are
Sindh Saraswat Brahmin
calamity struck Saraswat Desh and Saraswati began to dry out
to become non-existent by 1000 BC. Saraswats had no choice
but to pack up and move. This period of history saw many civilizations
abandoning their settlements. The migration happened not overnight
but spread over centuries. The Saraswats migrated in three
directions - mostly followed the river routes and migrated
to the South-West (Sind), North (Kashmir), East (Bihar).
Migration to South and West :
The migrations to south and west followed the course of the
River Saraswati, went up to Dwaraka and by ship they sailed
to Goa. For their stay in Dwaraka, these settlements have
been referred to as Saraswat Tirthas in Mahabharat. From Goa
they spread to entire Konkan, Karnatak and Kerala region.
Migration to North and East :
The second route of migration was from Punjab into Kashmir.
They were haunted by Muslim rulers for centuries until some
prominent Kashmiris appealed to the Sikh Chief Ranjit Singh
for help and he succeeded in getting rid of the Afghans. The
Kashmiri Saraswats were Devi worshippers.
Those who migrated to Kashmir called themselves as Kashmiri
Pandits, Sind-Sind Saraswats, Kutch-Kutchi Saraswats, Punjab-Punjab
Saraswats, Rajasthan-Rajasthan Saraswats and Gomantak- Gowd
to Bihar :
Saraswats who moved South East were mainly from the Saraswat
Desh and they followed the Ganges and reached Trihotrapur
or modern Tirhut in upper Bihar. This was in 400-350 BC. The
major settlements were in Kanyakubj (Kanpur area), Magadh
of Punjab :
Saraswat is essentially the Brahman of the Punjab, just as
the Khatri is distinctively a Punjabi caste.