Goa - Hindu Legends and Mythology
The origin of Goa or Gomantak as it is also
known, is lost in the mists of time. In the later Vedic period
(c.1000-500 BC), when the Hindu epic Mahabharat was
written, Goa has been referred to with the Sanskrit name Gomantak,
a word with many meanings, but signifying generally a fertile
The most famous legend associated with Goa,
is that of the mythical sage Parashuram (the sixth incarnation
of Lord Vishnu), who several thousand years ago created the
entire stretch of Konkan coast by ordering the seas to recede.
The Sea God gave up the lands on the the banks of the two
main rivers of Goa viz. Mandovi and Zuari (then called Gomati
and Asghanasini) for the settlement of the Aryans accompanying
Another legend, less well known, states
that the coastal area of Konkan enchanted Lord Krishna, who
was charmed by the beautiful ladies bathing in the area. The
ladies in turn, were so taken up by the melodious music coming
from his flute, that they kept dancing forgetting their daily
chores. Lord Krishna, then named the land Govapuri after the
cows (gov) belonging to the locals.
The history of the sacred land of Gomantak,
'land of the Gods' is well described in Sahyadri Khand
of Skandha Purana, the ancient text of Hindu religion.
According to this story narrated in the Chapter Shantiparva
of Mahabharat, a Brahmin from the Saraswat family,
Parashuram, annihilated the entire community of the warrior
tribe Kshatriyas and gifted the conquered land to a sage named
Unfortunately, the Kshatriya annihilation
meant that the land was left unadministered and fell into
anarchy and chaos. The worried sage Kashyapmuni, requested
Parashuram to leave the area and settle elsewhere. Parashuram
came south and reclaimed new land by ordering the sea to recede
and give up the coastal land. This land known as "Aparant"
or "Shurparak" is spread between the Sahyadri mountains
The first wave of Brahmins to settle in
Goa, were called Saraswats because of their origins from the
banks of the River Saraswati, an ancient river that existed
in Vedic times. The subsequent drying up of the river caused
large scale migration of Brahmins to all corners of India.
A group of ninety-six families, known today
as Gaud Saraswats, settled along the Konkan coast around 1000
BC. Of these, sixty-six families took up residence in the
southern half in today's Salcete taluka which derives its
name from the Sanskrit word "Sassast" meaning the
The other thirty families settled in the
northern area in today's Tiswadi taluka which derives its
name from the Sanskrit word for the number 30. The Saraswat
Brahmins worked in partnership with the local indigenous people,
the Kunbi tribals who still exist today. Around the year 740
AD, the Brahmins established their first Matha (religious
centre of learning) at Kushasthali (present day Cortalim)
An interesting sidelight in this legendary origin of Goa is
that Lord Parashuram is supposed to have shot an arrow from
the top of the western ghats into the sea to command the Sea
God to withdraw till the place where the arrow fell and claimed
that land to be his kingdom. The place where the arrow landed
was called Bannali (in Sanskrit for 'where the arrow landed';
Bann: arrow, ali: village), or today's Benaulim.
Parashuram arrived in the new abode with
other Saraswat Brahmins and sages in order to perform the
Yadnya and other rituals. These Brahmin families of
Dashgotras from Panchgoudas of Trihotrapura in northern India
came along with their family deities and settled themselves
in this land of Gomantak or the land of the Gods as it came
to be known thereafter.
They initially settled at Mathagram (Margao),
Kushasthal (Cortalim) and Kardalinagar (Keloshi). The main
deities which also came along with them were Mangirish, Mahadeo,
Mahalaxmi, Mahalsa, Shantadurga, Nagesh, Saptakoteshwar besides
many others. According to local legend, the ash found at Harmal
beach in Pernem Taluka is cited as the ash of the Yadnya or
holy ritual performed in Goa.
Today a temple of Parashuram exists in Painguinim
village of Canacona Taluka in South Goa. There is no concrete
proof to determine the exact date of the arrival of Saraswats
or Parashurama in the area, nor is it conclusively proved
that Saraswats or other Aryans were the first to arrive in
Even if the legends are considered as only
myths, the residence of Saraswat Brahmins in Goa since ancient
times along with their family deities is an undeniable fact.
And most probably they arrived in Goa under the leadership
of a towering personality named Parashuram.