History & Heritage
 

 

Time In Goa

 

 

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 land.

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 Parashurama.

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 Kashyapmuni.

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 and Sindhusagar.

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 number 66.

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 Konkan.

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.

 

   

  

 

 
 
 
 


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Department of Tourism, Government of Goa. All rights reserved.