Deshastha Brahmin

Deshastha Brahmin

Overview
Deshastha Brahmins are the original and the oldest Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 sub-caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 mainly from the India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n state of Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 and some districts of northern Karnataka
Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

. The word Deshastha comes from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 words Desha and Stha which mean inland or country and resident respectively. Fused together, the two words literally mean "residents of the country".
Deshasthas belong to the Pancha Dravida Brahmins group.
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Encyclopedia
Deshastha Brahmins are the original and the oldest Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 sub-caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 mainly from the India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n state of Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 and some districts of northern Karnataka
Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

. The word Deshastha comes from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 words Desha and Stha which mean inland or country and resident respectively. Fused together, the two words literally mean "residents of the country".
Deshasthas belong to the Pancha Dravida Brahmins group. Over the millennia, the community produced the Sanskrit scholar Bhavabhuti
Bhavabhuti
Bhavabhuti was an 8th century scholar of India noted for his plays and poetry, written in Sanskrit. His plays are considered equivalent to the works of Kalidasa...

 in the 8th century, the mathematician, Bhāskara II and the 13th century Varkari
Varkari
Varkari is a Vaishnava religious movement within the bhakti spiritual tradition of Hinduism, geographically associated with the Indian states of Maharashtra and northern Karnataka. Varkaris worship Vithoba , the presiding deity of Pandharpur, regarded as a form of Krishna, an Avatar of Vishnu...

 saint and philosopher, Dnyaneshwar
Dnyaneshwar
Dnyāneshwar , also known as Jñanadeva , was born into a Deshastha Brahmin Kulkarni family.He was a 13th century Maharashtrian Hindu saint , poet, philosopher and yogi of the Nath tradition whose works Bhavartha deepika teeka ,...

. All of the Peshwa
Peshwa
A Peshwa is the titular equivalent of a modern Prime Minister. Emporer Shivaji created the Peshwa designation in order to more effectively delegate administrative duties during the growth of the Maratha Empire. Prior to 1749, Peshwas held office for 8-9 years and controlled the Maratha army...

s during Shivaji's reign were Deshasthas.

Brahmins constitute 4 percent of the population of Maharahstra, and 60 percent of them are Deshastha Brahmins. The valleys of the Krishna
Krishna River
The Krishna River , is one of the longest rivers in central-southern India, about . It is also referred to as Krishnaveni in its original nomenclature...

 and the Godavari
Godavari River
The Godavari is a river that runs from western to southern India and is considered to be one of the big river basins in India. With a length of 1465 km, it is the second longest river in India , that runs within the country and also the longest river in South India...

 rivers, and a part of Deccan plateau
Deccan Plateau
The Deccan Plateau is a large plateau in India, making up the majority of the southern part of the country. It rises a hundred meters high in the north, rising further to more than a kilometers high in the south, forming a raised triangle nested within the familiar downward-pointing triangle of...

 adjacent to the Sahyadri hills, are collectively called the Desha – the original home of the Deshastha Brahmins.

The second largest Maharashtrian Brahmin community, the Konkanastha Brahmins, who historically lagged the Deshastha Brahmins socioeconomically and in Brahmin rituals achieved parity with them in the nepotistic era that followed the passing of the seat of the Peshwa
Peshwa
A Peshwa is the titular equivalent of a modern Prime Minister. Emporer Shivaji created the Peshwa designation in order to more effectively delegate administrative duties during the growth of the Maratha Empire. Prior to 1749, Peshwas held office for 8-9 years and controlled the Maratha army...

 of the Maratha Empire
Maratha Empire
The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian imperial power that existed from 1674 to 1818. At its peak, the empire covered much of South Asia, encompassing a territory of over 2.8 million km²....

 into Konkanastha hands in 1713. This era marked a period of social warfare between the two Brahmin sub-castes.

Classification


The Hindu caste system is first mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures like the Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 and the Upanishads. Various sub-classifications of the caste system exist, many based on the geographical origin of the caste.

Deshastha Brahmin fall under the Pancha Dravida Brahmin classification of the Brahmin community in India. Other Brahmin sub-castes in the region are Karhade Brahmin
Karhade Brahmin
Karhade Brahmins are a predominantly Pancha Dravida Brahmins Marathi and Konkani speaking Hindu community in India.-Etymology and Origin:*The name Karháda or Karáda, is the...

, Devrukhe
Devrukhe
In India the Devrukhe Brahmins are one of five sub-castes of Panchadravid Maharashtrian Brahmins.The Devrukhes are a vegetarian community.-Name:There is a literary reference to the name dating back 500 years...

, Konkanastha
Chitpavan
The Chitpavan or Chitpawan, also known as Konkanastha Brahmins , are a Smarta Brahmin community of Konkan, the coastal region of western Maharashtra in India....

 and Goud Saraswat Brahmin, but these sub-castes only have a regional significance. The Vedas are the world's oldest texts that are still used in worship and they are the oldest literature of India. Four Vedas exists of which the Rig Veda is the oldest. They were handed down from one generation of Brahmins to the next verbally and memorised by each generation. They were written down sometime around 400 BC. Other Vedas include the Yajur Veda, the Atharva Veda and the Sama Veda. Two different versions of the Yajur Veda exist, the White (Shukla in Sanskrit) and the black or (Krishna in Sanskrit). The Shukla Yajur Veda has a two different branches (Shakha in Sanakrit) called the Kanva and the Madhyandin. Deshastha Brahmins are further classified in two major sub-sects, the Deshashatha Rigvedi and the Deshastha Yajurvedi, based on the Veda they follow. The Yajurvedis are further classified into two groups called the Madhyandins and the Kanavas. The Madhyandins follow the Madhyandin branch of the Shukla Yajur Veda. The word Madhyandin is a fusion of two words Madhya and din which mean middle and day respectively. They are so called because they perform Sandhya Vandana at noon. Almost without exception, the several regional groups of the Madhyandin Brahmins are indistinguishable from the Kshatriya Marathas due to similar physical features. A similar study of four groups that have been resident in Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

 and surrounding areas for generations, using blood group markers, found the Deshastha Rigvedi and the Marathas to be genetically closer to each other than to the Gujarati
Gujarati people
Gujarati people , or Gujaratis are an ethnic group that is traditionally Gujarati-speaking and can trace their ancestry to the state of Gujarat in western India...

 Patel
Patel
Patel is a surname of Indian origin, originally meaning "headman" or"village chief". Patels are socially, economically and politically the most dominant caste in Gujarat Patels are basically Kurmis or Kunbis and are found in various geographical locations. The Kunbi are an Indian subcaste...

  and the Parsi
Parsi
Parsi or Parsee refers to a member of the larger of the two Zoroastrian communities in South Asia, the other being the Irani community....

 communities. Kannav Brahmins were traditionally located in and around Nasik, and they call themselves Prathamshakhis or followers of the first branch of the White Yajurved. The Madhyandin Yajurvedis arrived in the Nashik district of Maharashtra from Gujarat about 500 years ago.

Brahmin nomenclature used for various Deshastha sub-groups based on Veda-Shakha-Sutra
Veda followed Recension or sub-part of the veda Shakha or branch of the veda Brahmin Nomenclature
Rig Veda (composed: 1500 bc – 1400 bc) No recension or sub-parts exist Śākalya (only one survives) Deshastha Rigvedi
Yajur Veda (composed: 900 bc – 700 bc) Shukla (White) Madhyandin Yajurvedi Madhyandin
Kannava Yajurvedi Kannava
Krishna (Black) Irrelevant for Deshasthas Irrelevant for Deshasthas

Recently, the Yajurvedi Madhyandin and Yajurvedi Kannava Brahmins have been colloquially being referred to as Deshastha Yajurvedi Madhyandin and Deshastha Yajurvedi Kannava, although not all have traditionally lived or belonged to the Desh.

The Deshastha Rigvedi Brahmins are treated as a separate and distinct caste from the Yajurvedi Madhyandina and Kannavas Brhamins by several authors, including Malhotra, Karve and Wilson.

There is a significant Deshashta population in the state of Karnataka, and here, the sub-classification of Deshastha Brahmins is based on the type of Hindu philosophical system they follow. These are the Deshastha Madhva
Dvaita
Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

 Brahmins who follow the teachings of Madhvacharya
Madhvacharya
Madhvācārya was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda "Philosophy of Reality", popularly known as the Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy. It is one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhvācārya was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in...

 and the Deshastha Smartha Brahmins who follow the teachings of Adi Shankaracharya. The surnames of these North Kanataka based, Kannada speaking Deshastha Brahmins, can be identical to those of Maharashtrian Deshastha Brahmins, for example, they have last names like Kulkarni
Kulkarni
Kulkarni Marathi- Kannada- is a common family name in the Maharashtra and Karnataka states of India.The name Kulkarni is believed to be a combination of two words . Kula means the root of the family, and Karanika means one who maintains records or accounts...

, Deshpande
Deshpande
Deshpande is one of the most famous Brahmin surnames in the state of Maharashtra and North Karnataka, . Deshpande was the revenue post created by the King Krishnadevrai of Devgiri . One Deshpande used to be appointed superior to about 10 Pandes. More than 96% of Deshpandes belong to the Deshastha...

 and Joshi
Joshi
Joshi is a family name common in India and Nepal. Whereas the Joshi's of India are of Brahmin origin, the Joshi's of Nepal are either Newars or Khas-Brahmin...

. Intermarriages are allowed between the Karnatak Brahmans and the Deshasthas and so the classification of the Southern India Brahmans into the Maharashtra, the Andhra (Telugu) and the Karnatic are in this respect, more of a provincial or linguistic character than of an ethnographic one.
Adult literacy of Maharashtrian castes in 1911
VarnaCasteLiterateIn English
Brahmin Deshastha 61.5 10.22
Konkanastha 63 19.3
Saraswat 54 10.77
Intermediate Varnas Maratha 4.6 0.22
Kunbi 9.4 0.27
Lingayat 13.6 0.3
Schedule Caste Mahars 1 0.01

Castes claiming to be Deshasthas


The Golak or Govardhans, originally from the Pandharpur
Pandharpur
Pandharpur is an important pilgrimage city on the Bhimā river in Solāpur district, Maharashtra, India. The Vithoba temple attracts about half a million Hindu pilgrims during the major yātrā in the month of Ashadh ....

-Barshi
Barshi
Barshi is a town and a Municipal Council in Solapur district in the state of Maharashtra, India. It is a headquarter and the largest city in Barshi Taluka. It is famous in the region for its quality toor dal production and other agriculture products. The town is traditionally considered as a...

 area, follow the customs of the Deshasthas and claim to be Deshasthas. The other Brahmins traditionally did not accept this, and the Deshasthas did not socialise and intermingle with them. The Maharashtra State Gazetteer records the Golak or Govardhan as being considered degraded because they sold their cows instead of rearing them. Traditionally, the caste headman was generally someone with a smattering of Sanskrit and was called a Vedia. They were the earliest settlers in and around Nasik. Golaks are divided in to Kunda Golak and Randa Golak, both of whom are descendants of illegitimate offsprings of Brahmins. The Kunda Golak are the offsprings of the adultery between a Brahmin father and a Brahmin woman who is not his legally wedded wife. The Randa Golaks are similar to the Kunda Golak in their origin, with the difference that they are the illegitimate descendants of Brahmin widows. Both do not accept new illegitimate Brahmins in their caste. Traditional occupations of both Kunda and Randa Golaks are generally shopkeepers, astrologers and cultivators. They are sometimes also called Gomukha Brahmins.

Demographics



Brahmins constitute 4 percent of the population of Maharahstra, and 60 percent of them are Deshastha Brahmins. The valleys of the Krishna
Krishna River
The Krishna River , is one of the longest rivers in central-southern India, about . It is also referred to as Krishnaveni in its original nomenclature...

 and the Godavari
Godavari River
The Godavari is a river that runs from western to southern India and is considered to be one of the big river basins in India. With a length of 1465 km, it is the second longest river in India , that runs within the country and also the longest river in South India...

 rivers, and the plateaus of the Sahyadri hills, are collectively called the Desha – the original home of the Deshastha Brahmins. Traditional social studies and recent genetic studies show Deshastha Brahmin to be ethnically indistinguishable from the population of Maharashtra. In his report on the 1901 census, Sir Herbert Hope Risley
Herbert Hope Risley
Sir Herbert Hope Risley KCIE CSI was a British ethnographer and colonial administrator, a member of the Indian Civil Service who conducted extensive studies on the tribes and castes of Bengal. He is also remembered for the formal application of the caste system to the entire Hindu population of...

 classified many castes from Western India including Maratha Brahman and Kunbis as belonging to the Scytho-Dravidian type.

The Deshastha Brahmins are equally distributed all through the state of Maharashtra, ranging from villages to urban areas. Marathi
Marathi language
Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. It is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. There are over 68 million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India and is the fifteenth most...

 speaking Deshastha can also be found in large numbers outside Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 such as in the cities of Indore
Indore
Indore is one of the major city in India, the largest city and commercial center of the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Indore is located 190 km west of the state capital Bhopal. According to the 2011 Indian census, Indore city has a population of 1,960,631...

, Gwalior, Baroda and Thanjavur, which were a part of or were influenced by, the Maratha Empire
Maratha Empire
The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian imperial power that existed from 1674 to 1818. At its peak, the empire covered much of South Asia, encompassing a territory of over 2.8 million km²....

. The Deshastha Brahmins of Baroda are immigrants who came from the Desh for State service during the rule of Gaekwad
Gaekwad
The Gaekwad or Gaikwad was a Maratha dynasty that ruled the princely state of Baroda in western India from the mid-18th century until 1947...

s.

The military settlers (of Tanjavur) included both Brahmans and Marathas, and by reason of their isolation from their distant home, the sub-divisions which separated these castes in their mother-country were forgotten, and they were all welded together under the common name of Deshasthas. Today's Marathi speaking Thanjavur population are descendants of the Marathi speaking immigrants who immigrated to Tamil Nadu in the 17th and 18th centuries. The isolation from their homeland has almost made them culturally alien to Brahmins in Maharahstra. For example, Thanjavur Marathi is better understood by a Tamilian than a Maharashtrian in Pune. Though inter-marriages between Madhwa Deshastha Brahmins and Smartha Deshastha Brahmins of Tanjavur are common, both these sub-groups do not inter-marry with the Kshatriya Marathas of Tanjavur. However, Madhwa Deshastha Brahmins and Smartha Deshastha Brahmins of Tanjavur inter-marry with Madhwa Kannada Brahmins and Smartha Kannada Brahmins.
In 2000, a 90 year old community member estimated that there had been 500 Marathi families in a particular neighbourhood of Tanjavur in 1950, of which only 50 remained in 2000.

History



The word Deshastha comes from the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 words Desha and Stha, which mean inland or country and resident respectively. Fused together, the two words literally mean "residents of the country". Deshastha are the Maharashtrian
Marathi people
The Marathi people or Maharashtrians are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, that inhabit the Maharashtra region and state of western India. Their language Marathi is part of the southern group of Indo-Aryan languages...

 Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 community with the longest known history, making them the original and the oldest Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 sub-caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 from the India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n state of Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

. The Deshastha community may be as old as the Vedas, as vedic literature describes people strongly resembling Deshasthas. This puts Deshastha presence on the Desh between 1100–1700 BC, thus making the history of the Deshastha Brahmins older than that of their mother tongue of Marathi, which itself originated in 1000 AD. As the original Brahmins of Maharashtra, the Deshasthas have been held in the greatest esteem in Maharashtra and they have considered themselves superior to other Brahmins. The history of Maharashtra before the 12th century is quite sparse, but Deshastha history is well documented. The traditional occupation of the Deshasthas was that of priesthood at the Hindu temples or at socio-religious ceremonies. Records show that most of the religious and literary leaders since the 13th century have been Deshasthas. In addition to being village priests, most of the village accountant
Village accountant
The village accountant is an administrative government position found in rural parts of the Indian sub-continent. The office and the officeholder are called the patwari in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bengal, North India and Pakistan...

s belonged to the Deshastha caste. Priests at the famous Vitthal temple in Pandharpur
Pandharpur
Pandharpur is an important pilgrimage city on the Bhimā river in Solāpur district, Maharashtra, India. The Vithoba temple attracts about half a million Hindu pilgrims during the major yātrā in the month of Ashadh ....

 are Deshastha, as are the priests in many of Pune's temples. Other traditional occupations included village revenue officials, academicians, astrologer, administrators and practitioners of Ayurvedic
Ayurveda
Ayurveda or ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India and a form of alternative medicine. In Sanskrit, words , meaning "longevity", and , meaning "knowledge" or "science". The earliest literature on Indian medical practice appeared during the Vedic period in India,...

 medicine. Deshasthas who study the vedas are called Vaidika, astrologers are called Jyotishi or Joshi, and practitioners of medical science are called Vaidyas, and reciters of the puranas are called Puraniks. Some are also engaged in farming. An author recorded in 1896 that Deshasthas have been and still continue to be, the great Pandits in almost every branch of Sanskrit learning. According to the Anthropological Survey of India, the Deshasthas are a progressive community and some of the them have taken to white collar jobs. The Deshastha Brahmins helped build the Maratha Empire and once built, helped in its administration. Deshasthas have contributed to the fields of Sanskrit and Marathi literature, mathematics, and philosophy.

Mathematics, philosophy and literature


Deshasthas produced prominent literary figures in Maharashtra between the 13th and the 19th centuries. The great Sanskrit scholar Bhavabhuti was a Deshastha Brahmin who lived around 7 AD in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. His works of high Sanskrit poetry and plays are only equalled by those of Kalidasa
Kalidasa
Kālidāsa was a renowned Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language...

. Two of his best known plays are Mahāvīracarita and Mālatī Mādhava
Sanskrit drama
The earliest-surviving fragments of Sanskrit drama date from the 1st century CE. The Mahābhāṣya by Patañjali contains the earliest reference to what may have been the seeds of Sanskrit drama. This treatise on grammar from 140 BCE provides a feasible date for the beginnings of theatre in India.Its...

. Mahaviracarita is a work on the early life of the Hindu god Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, whereas Malati Madhava is a love story between Malati and her lover Madhava, which has a happy ending after several twists and turns.
Mukund Raj was another poet from the community who lived in the 13th century and is said to be the first poet who composed in Marathi. He is known for the Viveka-Siddhi and Parammrita which are metaphysical, pantheistic works connected with orthodox Vedantism
Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is considered to be the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are Dvaita and ; while the minor ones include Suddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Achintya Bhedabheda...

. Other well known Deshastha literary scholars of the 17th century were Mukteshwar
Mukteshwar
Mukteshwar is a town and tourist destination in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, India. It sits high in the Kumaon Hills at an altitude of 2286 meters , 51 km from Nainital, 72 km from Haldwani, and 395 km from Delhi....

 and Shridhar
Shridhar
Shridhar is an Indian name. The name may refer to a number of persons or things:-Given name:* Shridhar Chillal, world record holder for having the longest fingernails on a single hand* Shridhar Venkatesh Ketkar, Indian scholar...

. Mukteshwar was the grandson of Eknath
Eknath
Eknath was a prominent Marathi scholar and religious poet. He is called a "sant" in the Marathi tradition as are most other religious poets...

 and is the most distinguished poet in the ovi meter. He is most known for translating the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

 and the Ramayana
Ramayana
The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon , considered to be itihāsa. The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India and Nepal, the other being the Mahabharata...

 in Marathi but only a part of the Mahabharata translation is available and the entire Ramayana translation is lost. Shridhar Kulkarni came from near Pandharpur and his works are said to have superseded the Sanskrit epics to a certain extent. Other major literary contributors of the 17th and the 18th century were Vaman Pandit
Vaman Pandit
Vaman Pandit was a Marathi scholar and poet of India. Some sources say that his family hailed from Nanded but had moved to Dharwad where Vaman Pandit was born and grew up. Later he migrated to Kashi for a significant period of his life. His most significant work, the Yatharthadipika is a...

, Mahipati
Mahipati
Mahipati was an author who wrote in Marāthi biographies of the prominent Hindu saints who had lived between the 13th and the 17th centuries in Mahārāshtra, India....

, Amritaraya, Anant Phandi and Ramjoshi.

Considered to be the greatest mathematician of medieval India, Bhaskara II or Bhaskaracharya II, lived in the 12th century. His is known for Lilavati
Lilavati
Lilavati was Indian mathematician Bhāskara II's treatise on mathematics. It is the first volume of his main work Siddhānta Shiromani, Sanskrit for "Crown of treatises," alongside Bijaganita, Grahaganita and Golādhyāya.- Name :The name comes from his daughter Līlāvatī...

, which is a work on quadratic equations. His Bijaganita
Bijaganita
Bijaganita was Indian mathematician Bhāskara II's treatise on algebra. It is the second volume of his main work Siddhānta Shiromani, Sanskrit for "Crown of treatises," alongside Lilāvati, Grahaganita and Golādhyāya.- Contents :...

or Algebra, deals with division of zero, square roots, positive and negative numbers, and so on. His work on calculus pre-dates Sir Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

 by half a millennium.
The 17th century mathematician Kamalakara
Kamalakara
Kamalakara , an Indian astronomer and mathematician, came from a learned family of scholars from Golagrāma, a village on the northern bank of the river Godāvarī. His father was Nrsimha who was born in 1586. Two of Kamalakara's three brothers were also astronomer and mathematicians: Divakara, who...

, was a forward-looking astronomer-mathematician who studied Hindu, Greek and Arabic astronomy. His most important work was the Siddhanta-Tattvaviveka. He studied and agreed with Ptolemaic notions of the planetary systems. He was the first and the only traditional astronomer to present geometrical optics. Kamalakara proposed a new Prime Meridian which passed through the imaginary city of Khaladatta, and provided a table of latitudes and longitudes for 24 cities within and outside of India.

The Deshastha community has produced several saints and philosophers. Most important of these were Dnyaneshwar, Eknath and Ramdas. The most revered of all Bhakti
Bhakti
In Hinduism Bhakti is religious devotion in the form of active involvement of a devotee in worship of the divine.Within monotheistic Hinduism, it is the love felt by the worshipper towards the personal God, a concept expressed in Hindu theology as Svayam Bhagavan.Bhakti can be used of either...

 saints, Dnyaneshwar was universally acclaimed for his commentary on the Bhagvad Gita. He lived in the 13th century. Eknath was yet another Bhakti saint who published an extensive poem called the Eknathi Bhagwat in the 16th century. Other works of Eknath include the Bhavartha Ramayana, the Rukmini Swayamwara and the Swatma Sukha. The 17th century saw the Dasbodh
Dasbodh
Dāsbodh , loosely meaning advise to the disciple, is a classical 17th Century Hindu Advaita Vedanta spiritual text. It was orally narrated by saint Samarth Ramdas, spiritual advisor of the famous King Shivaji, to his disciple Kalyan Swami. The narration is believed to have taken place in a cave...

of the saint Samarth Ramdas
Samarth Ramdas
Ramdas was a prominent Marathi saint and religious poet in the Hindu tradition in Maharashtra, India. Samarth Ramdas was a devotee of Lord Hanuman and Lord Rama...

, who was also the spiritual adviser to Shivaji.

Military and administration



Most of Shivaji's principal Brahmin officers were Deshasthas. They played a major role in the armies and administration of the Maratha Empire. Some important contributors were warriors like Neelkanth Sarnaik, Keso Narayan Deshpande, Rahuji Somanath, Balaji and Chimnaji Deshpande of Pune, Ragho Ballal Atre, Moropant Pingale, Annaji Dato Sabnis and Melgiri Pandit. At one point in Maratha Empire, seven of eight Ashtapradhans came from the community which included important posts of Panditrao (ecclesiastical head) and Nyayadhish (chief justice). The Deshasthas were the natural leaders in the era of the foundation of the Maratha empire. Most importantly, all of the Peshwas during Shivaji's time were Deshasthas. In 1713, Balaji Vishwanath Bhat
Balaji Vishwanath
Balaji Vishwanath Bhat , better known as Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath, was the first of a series of hereditary Peshwas hailing from the Brahmin family who gained effective control of the Maratha Empire during the 18th century...

 was appointed as the fifth Peshwa and the seat of Peshwa remained in Konkanastha hands until the fall of the Maratha Empire. In order to obtain the loyalty of the powerful Deshastha Brahmins, the Konkanastha Peshwas established a system of patronage for Brahmin scholars.

The Konkanastha Peshwa Baji Rao I who coveted conquering Vasai or Bassein, sent an enovy to the Portuguese governor of Bassein. The governor, Luís Botelho, insulted the envoy by calling Baji Rao a nigger. The Peshwa then deployed his brother, Chimaji Appa in the conquest of Vasai. This was a hard fought battle with the British supplying the Portuguese with advice and the Marathas with equipment. Khanduji Mankar of the Pathare Prabhu
Pathare prabhu
Pathare Prabhu is one of the Hindu communities in the city of Mumbai . These people are among earliest settlers in the city. They are known to have one of the oldest academic traditions amongst Hindus on par with Brahmins. They were amongst the first of the Hindus to adopt to British educational...

 caste and Antaji Raghunath, a Yajurvedi Brahmin, both played important roles in the battle. After the victory in 1739, the Jagir
Jagir
In historic India, a jagir was a small territory granted by the ruler to an army chieftain in fairly short terms usually of three years but not extending beyond his lifetime, in recognition of his military service...

 of Vasai was promised to Antaji Raghunath, but the promise was not kept by the Konkanastha Peshwas, who instead harassed the Yajurvedis. Fed up with the humiliation, the Yajurvedi Brahmins migrated to Mumbai along with the Pathare Prabhus to work for the British.

Society and culture




The majority of Deshasthas speak Marathi
Marathi language
Marathi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India. It is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. There are over 68 million fluent speakers worldwide. Marathi has the fourth largest number of native speakers in India and is the fifteenth most...

, one of the major languages of the mainly northern Indo-Aryan language group. The major dialects of Marathi are called Standard Marathi and Warhadi Marathi. Standard Marathi is the official language of the State of Maharashtra. The language of Pune's Deshastha Brahmins has been considered to be the standard Marathi language and the pronunciation of the Deshastha Rigvedi is given prominence. There are a few other sub-dialects like Ahirani, Dangi, Samavedi, Khandeshi and Chitpavani Marathi. There are no inherently nasalised vowels in standard Marathi whereas the Chitpavani dialect of Marathi does have nasalised vowels.

By tradition, like other Brahmin communities of Southern India, Deshastha Brahmins are lacto vegetarian. Typical Deshastha cuisine consists of the simple varan made from tuvar dal
Dal
Dal is a preparation of pulses which have been stripped of their outer hulls and split. It also refers to the thick stew prepared from these, an important part of Indian, Nepali, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, and Bangladeshi cuisine...

. Metkut, a powdered mixture of several dals and a few spices is also a part of traditional Deshastha cuisine. Deshastha use black spice mix or kala, literally black, masala
Masala
Masala or massala is a term used in South Asian cuisines to mostly describe a mixture of spices. A masala can either be a combination of dried spices, or a paste made from a mixture of spices and other ingredients—often garlic, ginger, onions and chilli paste...

, in cooking. Traditionally, each family had their own recipe for the spice mix. However, this tradition is dying out as modern households buy pre-packaged mixed spice directly from supermarkets. Puran poli
Puran Poli
Puran Poli is a traditional type of sweet flatbread made in India in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Goa.-Ingredients:*300 gm - Channa dal or split yellow gram*300 gm - Jaggery...

 for festivals and on the first day of the two day marriage is another Marathi Brahmin special dish.

Most middle aged and young women in urban Maharashtra dress in western outfits such as skirts and trousers or shalwar kameez
Shalwar kameez
Shalwar kameez — or salwar kameez or shalwar qameez — is a traditional dress worn by both women and men in South Asia and Central Asia. Shalwar or salwar are loose pajama-like trousers. The legs are wide at the top, and narrow at the ankle. The kameez is a long shirt or tunic...

 with the traditionally nauvari or nine yard sari
Sari
A sari or sareeThe name of the garment in various regional languages include: , , , , , , , , , , , , , is a strip of unstitched cloth, worn by females, ranging from four to nine metres in length that is draped over the body in various styles. It is popular in India, Bangladesh, Nepal,...

, disappearing from the markets due to a lack of demand. Older women wear the five yard sari. In urban areas, the five yard sari is worn by younger women for special occasions such as marriages and religious ceremonies. Maharashtrian brides prefer the very Maharashtrian saree – the Paithani
Paithani
Paithani is a variety of sari, named after the Paithan town in Aurangabad Maharashtra state where they are woven by hand. Made from very fine silk, it is considered as one of the richest saris in Maharashtra....

 – for their wedding day.

In early to mid 20th century, Deshastha men used to wear a black cap to cover their head, with a turban or a pagadi being popular before that. For religious ceremonies males wore a coloured silk dhoti
Dhoti
The dhoti or pancha is the traditional men's garment in the in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A similar garment is worn in some rural areas of Punjab province in Pakistan, but the use is fast declining...

 called a sovale. In modern times, dhotis are only worn by older men in rural areas. In urban areas, just like women, a range of styles are preferred. For example, the Deshastha politician Manohar Joshi prefers white fine khadi kurtas, while younger men prefer modern western clothes such as jeans
Jeans
Jeans are trousers made from denim. Some of the earliest American blue jeans were made by Jacob Davis, Calvin Rogers, and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for cowboys, became popular among teenagers. Historic brands include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler...

.

In the past, caste or social disputes used to be resolved by joint meetings of all Brahmin sub-caste men in the area.
In modern period, rural Deshastha Brahmins participate in the village Gram panchayat
Gram panchayat
Gram panchayats are local self-governments at the village or small town level in India. As of 2002 there were about 265,000 gram panchayats in India. The gram panchayat is the foundation of the Panchayat System. A gram panchayat can be set up in villages with minimum population of 300...

, or council which is a rural political body which is mainly concerned with planning and implementation of developmental and welfare activities.

Religious customs


Deshastha Rigvedi Brahmins still recite the Rig Veda at religious ceremonies, prayers and other occasions. These ceremonies include birth, wedding, initiation ceremonies, as well as death rituals. Other ceremonies for different occasions in Hindu life include Vastushanti which is performed before a family formally establishes residence in a new house, Satyanarayana Puja, originating in Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

 in the 19th century, is a ceremony performed before commencing any new endeavour or for no particular reason. Invoking the name of the family's gotra
Gotra
In the Hindu society, the term Gotra broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor. Panini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram , which means "the word gotra denotes the progeny beginning with the son's son"...

and the kula daivat are important aspects of these ceremonies. Like most other Hindu communities, Deshasthas have a shrine called a devaghar in their house with idols, symbols, and pictures of various deities. Ritual reading of religious texts called pothi is also popular.

In traditional families, any food is first offered to the preferred deity as naivedya, before being consumed by family members and guests. Meals or snacks are not taken before this religious offering. In contemporary Deshasthas families, the naivedya is offered only on days of special religious significance.

However, recent research by the Vergelijkende Cultuurwetenschap of the Ghent University, led by S N Balagangadhara, has proposed that Indic traditions have been misidentified by colonial missionaries and their disciple anthropologists as religious behaviour. Balagangadhara further proposes that the status of pagan ceremonies typified by Brahmin rituals of "initiation" is actually only relevant in the context of cultural practices and not to any orthodox continuity in beliefs or worldviews.

Deshasthas, like all other Hindu Brahmins, trace their paternal ancestors to one of the seven or eight sages, the saptarshi
Saptarshi
The Saptarishi are the seven rishis who are extolled at many places in the Vedas and Hindu literature. The Vedic Samhitas never actually enumerate these rishis by name, though later Vedic texts such as the Brahmanas and Upanisads do so. They are regarded in the Vedas as the patriarchs of the...

. They classify themselves into eight gotra
Gotra
In the Hindu society, the term Gotra broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor. Panini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram , which means "the word gotra denotes the progeny beginning with the son's son"...

s
, named after the ancestor rishi
Rishi
Rishi denotes the composers of Vedic hymns. However, according to post-Vedic tradition, the rishi is a "seer" to whom the Vedas were "originally revealed" through states of higher consciousness. The rishis were prominent when Vedic Hinduism took shape, as far back as some three thousand years...

. Intra-marriage within gotras (Sagotra Vivaha) was uncommon until recently, being discouraged as it was likened to incest, although the taboo has considerably reduced in the case of modern families who are bound by more practical considerations.

In a court case "Madhavrao versus Raghavendrarao", involving a Deshastha Brahmin couple, the German philosopher and Indologist Max Müller
Max Müller
Friedrich Max Müller , more regularly known as Max Müller, was a German philologist and Orientalist, one of the founders of the western academic field of Indian studies and the discipline of comparative religion...

's definition of gotra as descending from eight sages and then branching out to several families was thrown out by reputed judges of a Bombay High Court. The court called the idea of Brahmin families descending from an unbroken line of common ancestors as indicated by the names of their respective gotras impossible to accept. The court consulted relevant Hindu texts and stressed the need for Hindu society and law to keep up with the times emphasising that notions of good social behaviour and the general ideology of Hindu society had changed. The court also said that the mass of material in the Hindu texts are so vast and full of contradictions that it is almost an impossible task to reduce it to order and coherence.
Every Deshastha family has their own family patron deity or the Kuladaivat. This deity is common to a lineage or a clan of several families who are connected to each other through a common ancestor. The Khandoba
Khandoba
Khandoba, also known as Khanderao, Khanderaya, Malhari Martand and Mallu Khan is a regional Hindu deity, worshipped as Mārtanda Bhairava, a form of Shiva, mainly in the Deccan plateau of India, especially in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. He is the most popular family deity in Maharashtra...

 of Jejuri is an example of a Kuladaivat of some Maharashtrian Deshastha families; he is a common Kuladaivat to several castes ranging from Brahmins to Dalit
Dalit
Dalit is a designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as Untouchable. Dalits are a mixed population, consisting of numerous castes from all over South Asia; they speak a variety of languages and practice a multitude of religions...

s. The practice of worshiping local or territorial deities as Kuladaivats began in the period of the Yadava dynasty. Other family deities of the people of Maharashtra are Bhavani
Bhavani
Bhavani is a ferocious aspect of the Hindu goddess Parvati. Bhavani means "giver of life", the power of nature or the source of creative energy. In addition to her ferocious aspect, she is also known as Karunaswaroopini, "filled with mercy"....

 of Tuljapur
Tuljapur
Tuljapur is a city and a municipal council in Osmanabad district in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the administrative seat of Tuljapur taluka.The town is home to a famous temple, Tulja Bhavani Temple, dedicated to the Hindu goddess Bhavani...

, Mahalaxmi of Kolhapur, Mahalaxmi of Amravati, Renuka of Mahur, Parashuram in Konkan
Konkan
The Konkan also called the Konkan Coast or Karavali is a rugged section of the western coastline of India from Raigad to Mangalore...

, Saptashringi on Saptashringa hill at Vani in Nasik district. Despite being the most popular deity amongst Deshastha and other Marathi people
Marathi people
The Marathi people or Maharashtrians are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, that inhabit the Maharashtra region and state of western India. Their language Marathi is part of the southern group of Indo-Aryan languages...

, very few families regard Vitthal or other popular Avatar
Avatar
In Hinduism, an avatar is a deliberate descent of a deity to earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being and is mostly translated into English as "incarnation," but more accurately as "appearance" or "manifestation"....

s of Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 such as Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

 or Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

 as their Kuldaivat, with Balaji being an exception.

Ceremonies and rituals


Upon birth, a child is initiated into the family ritually according to the Rig Veda for the Rigvedi Brahmins. The naming ceremony of the child may happen many weeks or even months later, and it is called the barsa. In many Hindu communities around India, the naming is almost often done by consulting the child's horoscope, in which are suggested various names depending on the child's Lunar sign (called Rashi). However, in Deshastha families, the name that the child inevitably uses in secular functioning is the one decided by his parents. If a name is chosen on the basis of the horoscope, then that is kept a secret to ward off casting of a spell on the child during his or her life. During the naming ceremony, the child's paternal aunt has the honour of naming the infant. When the child is 11 months old, he or she gets their first hair-cut. This is an important ritual as well and is called Jawal.

When a male child reaches his eighth birthday he undergoes the initiation thread ceremony variously known as Munja (in reference to the Munja grass that is of official ritual specification), Vratabandha, or Upanayanam
Upanayanam
Upanayana is the initiation ritual by which initiates are invested with a sacred thread, to symbolize the transference of spiritual knowledge .- Significance of the sacred thread :...

. From that day on, he becomes an official member of his caste, and is called a dwija which translates to "twice-born" in English, in the sense that while the first birth was due to his biological parents, the second one is due to the initiating priest and Savitri
Gayatri Mantra
The Gāyatrī Mantra is a highly revered mantra, based on a Vedic Sanskrit verse from a hymn of the Rigveda , attributed to the rishi . The mantra is named for its vedic gāyatrī metre. As the verse can be interpreted to invoke the deva Savitr, it is often called Sāvitrī...

. Traditionally, boys are sent to gurukula to learn Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 and scriptures. Boys are expected to practice extreme discipline during this period known as brahmacharya
Brahmacharya
Brahmacharya is one of the four stages of life in an age-based social system as laid out in the Manu Smrti and later Classical Sanskrit texts in Hinduism. It refers to an educational period of 14–20 years which starts before the age of puberty. During this time the traditional vedic sciences are...

. Boys are expected to lead a celibate life, live off alms, consume selected vegetarian saatvic food and observe considerable austerity in behaviour and deeds. Though such practices are not followed in modern times by a majority of Deshasthas, all Deshasthas boys undergo the sacred thread ceremony. Many still continue to get initiated around eight years of age. Those who skip this get initiated just before marriage. Twice-born Deshasthas perform annual ceremonies to replace their sacred threads on Narali Purnima or the full moon
Full moon
Full moon lunar phase that occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. More precisely, a full moon occurs when the geocentric apparent longitudes of the Sun and Moon differ by 180 degrees; the Moon is then in opposition with the Sun.Lunar eclipses can only occur at...

 day of the month of Shravan
Shravan
Shravan is a Sanskrit word, which literally means listening.* Shravanam is one of the nine most important angas of bhakti.Shravan Kumar belonged to the time when King Dashratha ruled Ayodhya. He was born of poor and blind parents, but they had brought him up remarkably well. He was strong healthy...

, according to the Hindu calendar. The threads are called Jaanave in Marathi and Janavaara in Kannada.

The Deshasthas are historically an endogamous and monogamous community for whom marriages
Hindu wedding
Hindu wedding is thought to be the bringing of two people who are said to be compatible. Hindu wedding ceremonies are traditionally conducted at least partially in Sanskrit, the language of most holy Hindu ceremonies. The local language of the people involved is also used since most Hindus do not...

 take place by negotiation. The Mangalsutra
Mangalsutra
A Mangalsutra is a symbol of Hindu marriage union in South Asia. It is a sacred thread of love and goodwill worn by women as a symbol of their marriage...

 is the symbol of marriage for the woman. Studies show that most Indians' traditional views on caste, religion and family background have remained unchanged when it came to marriage, that is, people marry within their own castes, and matrimonial advertisements in newspapers are still classified by caste and sub-caste. In 1907, Rivers and Ridgeway record that Deshasthas allowed cross cousin marriages, just like other South Indian castes.

While arranging a marriage, gana, gotra, pravara, devak are all kept in mind. Horoscopes are matched. Ghosal describes the marriage ceremony as, "The groom, along with the bride's party goes to the bride's house. A ritual named Akshat is performed in which people around the groom and bride throw haldi (turmeric) and sindur (vermilion) coloured rice grains on the couple. After the Kanyadan ceremony, there is an exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom. Then, the groom ties the Mangalsutra around the neck of the bride. This is followed by granthibandhan in which the end of the bride's sari is tied to the end of the groom's dhoti, and a feast is arranged at the groom's place."

A Deshasthas marriage ceremony includes many elements of a traditional Marathi Hindu wedding ceremony. It consists of seemant poojan on the wedding eve. The dharmic wedding includes the antarpat ceremony followed by the vedic ceremony which involves the bridegroom and the bride walking around the sacred fire seven times to complete the marriage. Modern urban wedding ceremonies conclude with an evening reception. A Deshastha woman becomes part of her husband's family after marriage and adopts the gotra as well as the traditions of her husband's family.

Decades ago, Deshastha girls used to get married to the groom of their parents' choice by early teens or before. Even today, girls are married off in their late teens by rural and less educated amongst Deshastha. Urban women may choose to remain unmarried until the late 20s or even early 30s.

The 1881 Kolhapur gazetteer records that Deshastha widows at that time used to shave their heads and wear simple red saris. A widow also had to stop wearing the kunku on her forehead. In the past, a Deshastha widow was never allowed to re-marry, while it was acceptable for Deshastha widowers to re-marry, and the widows had to lead a very austere life with little joy. Divorces were non-existent. All of these practices have gradually fallen by the wayside over the last hundred years, and modern Deshastha widows lead better lives and younger widows also remarry. Divorce takes place by mutual consent and legal approval is sought.

Deshastha Brahmins dispose their dead by cremation
Antyesti
Antyesti or Hindu funeral rites, also referred to as Antim Sanskar, is an important Sanskara, sacrament of Hindu society. Extensive texts of such rites are available, particularly in the Garuda Purana. There is wide inconsistency in theory and practice, and the procedures differ from place to place...

. The dead person's son carries the corpse to the cremation ground atop a bier
Bier
A bier is a stand on which a corpse, coffin or casket containing a corpse, is placed to lie in state or to be carried to the grave.In Christian burial, the bier is often placed in the centre of the nave with candles surrounding it, and remains in place during the funeral.The bier is a flat frame,...

. The eldest son lights the fire to the corpse at the head for males and at the feet for females. The ashes are gathered in an earthen pitcher and immersed in a river on the third day after the death. This is a 13 day ritual with the pinda being offered to the dead soul on the 11th and a Śrāddha
Śrāddha
Śrāddha or Shraaddha is a Sanskrit word which literally means anything or any act that is performed with all sincerity and faith . In the Hindu religion, it is the ritual that one performs to pay homage to one’s 'ancestors' , especially to one’s dead parents...

ceremony followed by a funeral feast on the 13th. Cremation is performed according to vedic rites, usually within a day of the individual's death. Like all other Hindus, the preference is for the ashes to be immersed in the Ganges river or Godavari
Godavari River
The Godavari is a river that runs from western to southern India and is considered to be one of the big river basins in India. With a length of 1465 km, it is the second longest river in India , that runs within the country and also the longest river in South India...

 river. Śrāddha becomes an annual ritual in which all forefathers of the family who have passed on are remembered. These rituals are expected to be performed only by male descendants, preferably the eldest son of the deceased.

Festivals


Deshasthas follow the Saka or the Hindu calendar
Hindu calendar
The hindu calendar used in ancient times has undergone many changes in the process of regionalization, and today there are several regional Indian calendars, as well as an Indian national calendar. Nepali calendar, Bengali calendar, Malayalam calendar, Tamil calendar, Telugu calendar, Kannada...

. They follow several of the Hindu festivals of other Hindu Marathi people
Marathi people
The Marathi people or Maharashtrians are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, that inhabit the Maharashtra region and state of western India. Their language Marathi is part of the southern group of Indo-Aryan languages...

. These include Gudi Padwa
Gudi Padwa
Gudi Padwa or Gudhi Padwa , is the Marathi name for the Hindu holiday of Chaitra Shukla Pratipada. It is celebrated on the first day of the Chaitra month to mark the beginning of the New year according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar...

, Ram Navami, Hanuman Jayanti, Narali Pournima, Mangala Gaur, Janmashtami, Ganeshotsav, Kojagiri, Diwali
Diwali
Diwali or DeepavaliThe name of the festival in various regional languages include:, , , , , , , , , , , , , popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-December for different reasons...

, Khandoba Festival (Champa Shashthi), Makar Sankranti, Shivaratri and Holi
Holi
Holi , is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus. Holi is also known as festival of Colours. It is primarily observed in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and countries with large Indic diaspora populations following Hinduism, such as Suriname, Malaysia, Guyana, South Africa, Trinidad, United...

.

Of these, the Ganeshotsav is the most popular in the state of Maharashtra, however Diwali
Diwali
Diwali or DeepavaliThe name of the festival in various regional languages include:, , , , , , , , , , , , , popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-December for different reasons...

, the most popular festival of Hindus throughout India is equally popular in Maharashtra. Deshasthas celebrate the Ganapati festival as a private, domestic family affair. Depending on a family's tradition, the clay image(called Shadu in Marathi) is worshiped for one and a half, three and a half, seven or full 10 days, before ceremoniously being placed in a river or the sea. This tradition of private celebration runs parallel to that of public celebration introduced in 1894 by Lokamanya Tilak. Modak
Modak
A modak is a sweet dumpling popular in Western and South India. It is called "modak" in Marathi and Konkani, "modhaka" or "kadubu" in Kannada, "modhaka" or "kozhakkattai" in Tamil, and "kudumu" in Telugu. The sweet filling is made of fresh coconut and jaggery while the shell is of rice flour....

is a popular food item during the festival. Ganeshotsav also incorporates other festivals, namely Hartalika and the Gauri
Parvati
Parvati is a Hindu goddess. Parvati is Shakti, the wife of Shiva and the gentle aspect of Mahadevi, the Great Goddess...

 festival,the former is observed with a fast by women whilst the latter by the installation of idols of Gauris.

The religious amongst the Deshasthas fast
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

 on the days prescribed for fasting according to Hindu calendar.
Typical days for fasting are, Ekadasi, Chaturthi
Chaturthi
Chaturthi or Chaviti , is the fourth day of any lunar month in the Hindu calendar.-Festivals of Chaturthi:* Ganesh Chaturthi is one of prominent Chaturthi on which Lord Ganesha makes his presence on the earth....

 Shivaratri and Janmashtami.Hartalika is a day of fasting for women. Some people fast during the week in honour of a particular god, for example, Monday for Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

, Saturday for Maruti
Hanuman
Hanuman , is a Hindu deity, who is an ardent devotee of Rama, a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and one of the dearest devotees of lord Rama. A general among the vanaras, an ape-like race of forest-dwellers, Hanuman is an incarnation of the divine and a disciple of Lord Rama in the...

 and the planet Saturn, Shani
Shani
Sanskrit Śhani शनि, Kannada Śhani ಶನಿ ದೇವರು,Shani/Sani , is one of the Navagraha or Jyotiṣa . Shani is embodied in the planet Saturn and is the Lord of Saturday....

.

Gudi Padwa is observed on the first of the day of the lunar month of Chaitra
Chaitra
Chaitra is a month of the Hindu calendar....

 of the Hindu calendar. A victory pole or Gudi is erected outside homes on the day. Neem
Neem
Azadirachta indica is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to India growing in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Its fruits and seeds are the source of neem oil...

 leaves and Shreekhand are a part of the cuisine of the day. Like many other Hindu communities, Deshasthas celebrate Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti
Hanuman Jayanti
Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman, the Vanara god, widely venerated throughout India especially in North India. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the Shukla Paksha, during the month of Chaitra...

, the birthdays of Shree Ramchandra and Hanuman respectively are also celebrated in the month of Chaitra. A snack eaten by new mothers called Sunthawada or Dinkawada is the prasad
Prasad
Prasād is a mental condition of generosity, as well as a material substance that is first offered to a deity and then consumed...

 or the religious food on Ram Navami.
Deshastha Brahmins observe Raksha Bandhan, a north Indian festival on the same day as the local narali-pournima festival. Deshastha men change their sacred thread on this day.]
An important festival for the new brides is Mangala Gaur. It is celebrated on any Tuesday of Shravan
Shravan
Shravan is a Sanskrit word, which literally means listening.* Shravanam is one of the nine most important angas of bhakti.Shravan Kumar belonged to the time when King Dashratha ruled Ayodhya. He was born of poor and blind parents, but they had brought him up remarkably well. He was strong healthy...

 and involves the worshipping of the Shivalinga, a gathering of women folk and narrating limericks or Ukhane using their husbands' first name. The women may also play traditional games such as Jhimma, and Fugadi, or more contemporary activities such as Bhendya till the wee hours of the next morning.

Janamashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna on which day Gopalkala, a recipe made with curds, pickle, popped millet (jondhale in Marathi) and chili peppers is the special dish. Kojagiri Pournima, the full moon night in the month of Ashvin
Ashvin
Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

 is celebrated in the honour of Laxmi or Parvati. A milk preparation is the special food of the evening. The first born of the family is honoured on this day.

In some families Gauri is also known as Mahalakshmi puja. It is celebrated for three days; on the first day, Mahalakshmi arrival is observed. The ladies in the family will bring statues of Mahalakshmi from the door to the place where they will be worshiped. The Kokanstha Brahmins, instead of statues, use special stones as symbols of Gauri. The statues are settled at a certain location (very near the Devaghar), adorned with clothes and ornaments. On the second day, the family members get together and prepare a meal consisting of puran poli. This day is the puja day of Mahalakshmi and the meal is offered to Mahalakshmi and her blessings sought. On the third day, Mahalakshmi goes to her husband's home. Before the departure, ladies in the family will invite the neighbourhood ladies for exchange of haldi-kumkum. It is customary for the whole family to get together during the three days of Mahalakshmi puja. Most families consider Mahalakshmi as their daughter who is living with her husband's family all the year; but visits her parents' (maher) during the three days.

Navaratri, a nine day festival starts on the first day of the month of Ashvin
Ashvin
Ashvin , also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Tamil solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India's national civil calendar. It is the sixth month of the solar Bengali calendar. It falls in the season of Shôrot, or Autumn...

 and culminates on the tenth day or Vijayadashami
Vijayadashami
Vijayadashami also known as Dasara, is one of the most important festivals celebrated in various forms, across India, Nepal and Bangladesh...

. This is the one the three auspicious days of the year. People exchange leaves of the Apti tree as symbol of gold. During Navaratri women and girls hold Bhondla, a singing party in honour of the Goddess.

Like all Hindu Maharashtrians and to a varying degree with other Hindu Indians, Diwali
Diwali
Diwali or DeepavaliThe name of the festival in various regional languages include:, , , , , , , , , , , , , popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-December for different reasons...

 is celebrated over five days by the Deshastha Brahmins. Deshastha Brahmins celebrate this by waking up early in the morning and having an Abhyangasnan. People light their houses with lamps and candles, and burst fire crackers over the course of the festival. Special sweets and savouries like Anarse, Karanji, Chakli
Chakli
Chakli or Murukku is a savoury snack popular in India and Sri Lanka, originating in the cuisine of the South and West India. It is also popular in places with large Indian populations.-History:...

, Chivda, Ladoo are prepared for the festival. Colorful Rangoli
Rangoli
Rangoli is a traditional decorative folk art from India. These are decorative designs made on floors of living rooms and courtyards during Hindu festivals and are meant as sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu deities. The ancient symbols have been passed on through the ages, from each generation to...

 drawings are made in front of the house. Marathi children make a replica mud fort in memory of Shivaji, the great Maratha leader.

Deshastha Brahmins observe the Khandoba
Khandoba
Khandoba, also known as Khanderao, Khanderaya, Malhari Martand and Mallu Khan is a regional Hindu deity, worshipped as Mārtanda Bhairava, a form of Shiva, mainly in the Deccan plateau of India, especially in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. He is the most popular family deity in Maharashtra...

 Festival or Champa Shashthi in the month of Margashirsh. This is a six-day festival, from the first to sixth lunar day of the bright fortnight. Deshastha households perform Ghatasthapana during this festival. The sixth day of the festival is called Champa Sashthi.

Makar Sankranti falls on 14 January when the Sun enters Capricorn. Deshastha Brahmins exchange Tilgul or sweets made of jaggery and sesame seeds along with the customary salutation Tilgul Ghya aani God Bola which means Accept the Tilul and be friendly. Gulpoli, a special type of poli
Chapati
Chapati or Chapatti or Chapathi is an unleavened flatbread from the Indian subcontinent. Versions of it are found in Turkmenistan and in East African countries Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania...

 stuffed with jaggery is the dish of the day.

Mahashivaratri is celebrated in the month of Magha to honour Lord Shiva. A chutney made from the fruit of curd fruit (Kawath in Marathi), elephant apple, monkey fruit, or wood apple) is a part of the cuisine of the day.

Holi
Holi
Holi , is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus. Holi is also known as festival of Colours. It is primarily observed in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and countries with large Indic diaspora populations following Hinduism, such as Suriname, Malaysia, Guyana, South Africa, Trinidad, United...

 falls on the full moon day in Falgun
Falgun
Falgun is the eleventh month in the नेपाली Nepali calendar বঙ্গাব্দ Bangla Calendar and the Bikram Sambat. This also marks the arrival of spring,the sixth and final season in Nepal and Bangladesh...

, the last month of the Marathi Shaka Calendar. Deshasthas celebrate this festival by lighting a bonfire and offering Puran Poli
Puran Poli
Puran Poli is a traditional type of sweet flatbread made in India in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Goa.-Ingredients:*300 gm - Channa dal or split yellow gram*300 gm - Jaggery...

 to the fire. Unlike north Indians, Deshastha Brahmins celebrate colour throwing five days after Holi on Rangapanchami.

Social and political issues


Maharashtraian Brahmins were absentee landlords and lived off the surplus without tilling the land themselves per ritual restrictions. They were often seen as the exploiter of the tiller. This situation started to change when the newly independent India enshrined in its constitution, agrarian or land reform. Between 1949–1959, the state governments started enacting legislation in accordance with the constitution implementing this agrarian reform or Kula Kayada in Marathi. The legislation led to the abolition of various absentee tenures like inams and jagirs. This implementation of land reform had mixed results in different States. On official inquiry, it was revealed that not all absentee tenures were abolished in the State of Maharashtra as of 1985. Other social and political issues include anti-Brahminism and the treatment of Dalits.

Inter-caste issues



Maharashtrian Brahmins were the primary targets during the anti-Brahmin riots in Maharashtra in 1948, following Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi , pronounced . 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement...

's assassination. The rioters burnt homes and properties owned by Brahmins. The violent riots exposed the social tensions between the Marathas and the Brahmins.

In recent history, on 5 January 2004, the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune was vandalised by 150 members of the Sambhaji Brigade, an organisation promoting the cause of the Marathas. The organisation was protesting against a derogatory remark made by the American author James Laine, on Shivaji's Parentage in his book, Shivaji: A Hindu King in an Islamic Kingdom. BORI was targeted because Srikant Bahulkar, a scholar at BORI, was acknowledged in Laine's book. The incident highlighted the traditionally uncomfortable Brahmin-Maratha relationship. Recently, the same organisation demanded the removal of Dadoji Konddeo
Dadoji Konddeo
Dadoji Kondev was a 16th century revenue expert from India, particularly known for his loyalty towards Shahaji...

 from the Statue of Child Shivaji ploughing Pune's Land at Lal Mahal, Pune. They also threatened that if their demands were not met, they would demolish that part of statue themselves.

Until recent times, like other high castes of Maharashtra and India, Deshastha also followed the practice of segregation from other castes considered lower in the social hierarchy. Until a few decades ago, a large number of Hindu temples, presumably with a Deshastha priest, barred entry to the so called "untouchables
Dalit
Dalit is a designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as Untouchable. Dalits are a mixed population, consisting of numerous castes from all over South Asia; they speak a variety of languages and practice a multitude of religions...

" (Dalit). An example of this was the case of the 14th century saint Chokhamela. He was time and again denied entry to the Vitthal temple in Pandharpur
Pandharpur
Pandharpur is an important pilgrimage city on the Bhimā river in Solāpur district, Maharashtra, India. The Vithoba temple attracts about half a million Hindu pilgrims during the major yātrā in the month of Ashadh ....

, however, his mausoleum was built in front of the gate of the temple. In early 20th century, the Dalit leader Dr. Ambedkar, while attempting to visit the temple, was stopped at the burial site of Chokhamela and denied entry beyond that point for being a Mahar. Deshastha caste-fellow Dnyaneshwar and his entire family were stripped of their caste and excommunicated by the Deshasthas because of his father's return from sanyasa to family life. The family was harassed and humiliated to an extent that Dnyaneshwar's parents committed suicide. Other saints of the Varkari
Varkari
Varkari is a Vaishnava religious movement within the bhakti spiritual tradition of Hinduism, geographically associated with the Indian states of Maharashtra and northern Karnataka. Varkaris worship Vithoba , the presiding deity of Pandharpur, regarded as a form of Krishna, an Avatar of Vishnu...

 movement like Chokhamela
Chokhamela
Chokhamela was a saint in Maharashtra, India in the 14th century. He belonged to the Mahar caste considered "untouchable" in India in that era. He was born at Mehuna raja, a village in Deulgaon Raja Taluka of Buldhana district. He lived at Mangalvedhe in Maharashtra. He wrote many Abhangas...

 (Mahar
Mahar
Mahar is an important social group within the Indian state of Maharashtra and surrounding states. A grouping of related endogamous castes, the Mahar are the largest scheduled caste group in Maharashtra, in which they comprise ten percent of the population .On...

 caste), and Tukaram
Tukaram
Sant Tukaram was a prominent Varkari Sant and spiritual poet during a Bhakti movement in India.Sant Tukaram was born and lived most of his life in Dehu, a town close to Pune in Mahārāshtra, India. He was born to a couple with the family name "More", the descendent of the Mourya Clan with first...

 (Kunbi
Kunbi
Kunbi is a generic term applied to castes of traditionally non-elite tillers in Western India. These include the Dhonoje, Ghatole, Hindre, Jadav, Jhare, Khaire, Lewa , Lonari and Tirole communities of Vidharbha. The communities are largely found in the state of Maharashtra but also exist in the...

 caste) were discriminated against by the Brahmins.

The Maharashtra Government has taken away the hereditary rights of priesthood to the Pandharpur temple from the Badve and Utpat Deshastha families, and handed them over to a governmental committee. The families have been fighting complex legal battles to win back the rights. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or National Patriotic Organization), also known the Sangh, is a right-wing Hindu nationalist, paramilitary, volunteer, and allegedly militant organization for Hindu males in India...

, an organisation founded by K. B. Hedgewar
K. B. Hedgewar
Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was the founder of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh . Hedgewar founded the RSS in Nagpur, Maharashtra in 1925, with the intention of promoting the concept of the Hindu nation...

 advocates Dalits being head priests at Hindu temples. Deshastha Brahmins such as Dr. Govande and Mahadev Ambedkar supported and helped Dalit leaders like Mahatma Phule and Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar respectively. Dr. Ambedkar expressed gratitude towards Mahadev Ambedkar many times in his speeches.

Deshastha-Konkanastha relations


The prominence of a Brahmin in Indian society was directly related to his virtues, values, knowledge and practice of the scriptures. Manu's list of virtues of a perfect Brahmin, according to Italian Jesuit
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 Roberto de Nobili
Roberto de Nobili
Roberto de Nobili was an Italian Jesuit missionary to Southern India. He used a novel method of adaptation to preach Christianity, adopting many local customs of India which were, in his view, not contrary to Christianity.Born in Montepulciano, Tuscany in September 1577, Roberto de Nobili arrived...

, in order of importance were righteousness, truthfulness, generosity, almsgiving, compassion, self-restraint and diligent work. Prior to the rise of the Konkanastha Peshwas, the Konkanastha Brahmins were considered inferior in a society where the Deshasthas held socio-economic, ritual and Brahminical superiority.. As mentioned earlier, all the Peshwa dusing Shivaji's rule were Deshastha brahmins and many modern families who have surname, Peshwe, are in fact Deshastha Brahmins tracing decent to Shivaji's Peshwa, Moropant Pinglee or Sonopant Dabir. . After the appointment of Balaji Vishwanath Bhat as Peshwa, Konkanastha migrants began arriving en masse from the Konkan to Pune, where the Peshwa offered all important offices to the Konkanastha caste. The Konkanastha kin were rewarded with tax relief and grants of land. Historians point out nepotism and corruption during this time. The Sahyadri Khanda which contains the legend of the origin of the Konkanastha has been carefully suppressed or destroyed by the Konkanastha Peshwas. Crawford, an early Indologist described how a Brahmin reluctantly produced the manuscript when he asked for it and that Baji Rao, in 1814, ruined and disgraced a respectable Deshastha Brahmin of Wai
Wai, Maharashtra
Wāi is a town in Sātārā District in Mahārāshtra, India.Wai has the epithetic name Dakshin Kāshi...

, found in possession of a copy of the Sahyadri Khand.
The Konkanasthas were waging a social war on Dehasthas during the period of the Peshwas. By late 18th century, Konkanasthas had established complete political and economic dominance in the region. Richard Maxwell Eaton states that this rise of the Konkanastha is a classic example of social rank rising with political fortune. Since then, despite being the traditional religious and social elites of Maharashtra, the Deshastha Brahmins failed to feature as prominently as the Konkanastha. However, in recent decades, there have been deshasthas who have made a mark. One such person was the late BJP politician Pramod Mahajan
Pramod Mahajan
Pramod Venkatesh Mahajan was a prominent Indian politician. He was one of the most powerful second generation leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and, at the time of his death, was locked in a power struggle over who would take over the reins of the BJP when the current aging leadership...

, who was called a brilliant strategist and had an impact nationwide. Other notables include Manohar Joshi
Manohar Joshi
Manohar Gajanan Joshi, is an Indian politician from the state of Maharashtra. He is one of the prominent leaders of the Shiv Sena political party. He was the Chief Minister of Maharashtra from 1995–1999.-Background and family:...

, who has been the only Brahmin chief minister of Maharashtra, RSS
RSS
-Mathematics:* Root-sum-square, the square root of the sum of the squares of the elements of a data set* Residual sum of squares in statistics-Technology:* RSS , "Really Simple Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary", a family of web feed formats...

 founder Dr. Hedgewar, and social activist Baba Amte
Baba Amte
Murlidhar Devidas Amte, popularly known as Baba Amte was an Indian social worker and social activist known particularly for his work for the rehabilitation and empowerment of poor people suffering from leprosy....

.

The Deshasthas looked down upon the Konkanasthas as newcomers in the 18th and 19th centuries. They refused to socialise and intermingle with them, not considering them to be Brahmins. A Konkanstha who was invited to a Deshastha household was considered to be a privileged individual, and even the Peshwas were refused permission to perform religious rites at the Deshastha ghats
Ghats
As used in many parts of South Asia, the term ghat refers to a series of steps leading down to a water body, usually a holy river. In Bengali-speaking regions, this set of stairs can lead down to something as small as a pond or as large as a major river....

on the Godavari at Nasik. The Konkanasthas on their part, claimed they possessed greater intellectual ability and better political acumen. During colonial period of 18th and 19th century, Deshasthas dominated professions such as government administration, practice of medicine, music, legal and engineering fields, whereas Konkanasthas dominated fields like politics, social reform, journalism and education. This situation has since improved by the larger scale mixing of both communities on social, financial and educational fields, as well as with intermarriages.

Surnames and families


A large number of Deshastha surnames are derived by adding the suffix kar to the village from which the family originally hailed. For example, Bidkar came from town of Bid, Dharwadkar from the town of Dharwad in Karnataka, and the Marathi poet V. V. Shirwadkar, colloquially knows as Kusumagraj, came from the town of Shirwad. The names Kulkarni
Kulkarni
Kulkarni Marathi- Kannada- is a common family name in the Maharashtra and Karnataka states of India.The name Kulkarni is believed to be a combination of two words . Kula means the root of the family, and Karanika means one who maintains records or accounts...

, Deshpande
Deshpande
Deshpande is one of the most famous Brahmin surnames in the state of Maharashtra and North Karnataka, . Deshpande was the revenue post created by the King Krishnadevrai of Devgiri . One Deshpande used to be appointed superior to about 10 Pandes. More than 96% of Deshpandes belong to the Deshastha...

, and Joshi
Joshi
Joshi is a family name common in India and Nepal. Whereas the Joshi's of India are of Brahmin origin, the Joshi's of Nepal are either Newars or Khas-Brahmin...

 are very common amongst Deshastha Brahmins, and denote their professions. For example, Kulkarni
Kulkarni
Kulkarni Marathi- Kannada- is a common family name in the Maharashtra and Karnataka states of India.The name Kulkarni is believed to be a combination of two words . Kula means the root of the family, and Karanika means one who maintains records or accounts...

means revenue collector and Joshi means astrologer. Some surnames simply describe physical and mental characteristics such as Hirve which means green or Buddhisagar which literally translates to an ocean of intellect.

External links