Konkan Maratha Community

              Even today, the Hindus in general in Goa who have the nostalgic heritage of a prosperous and benevolent Kadamba rule of yore, prefer to be addressed as 'Koknas'.This is only to highlight how nostalgic the Goa Kadambas were regarding "Konkan". This nostalgia perhaps, lead the community to call themselves as Brahma-Kshatriya Konkanas or Brahma Kshatriya Koknas.

This nostalgia about the Konkan must have been very strong enough in the minds of the Goa Kadambas to persist for long, so much so that even today the Kshatriya Konkan Marathas of Uttara Kannada are popularly addressed as " Koknas " only.Then comes the dismal peroid of the devastating invasions of Malik Kafur and Muhammad-bin-Tughluk and the upheavals thereafter in the around Goa in the 14th century A.D.

Malik Kafur invaded Goa in 1313 A.D. and destroyed a number of places of worship including a Saptakoteshwar temple at Diwar-Narva built by the Kadamba queen Kamala Devi. The second invasion that needs to be specially mentioned is that of Muhammad-bin-Tughluk who invaded Gao in 1327 A.D. an destroyed the capital of the Goa Kadambas along with a number of places of worship.

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Many valiant warriors who had a pace of honour in the royal court of the Kadambas of Goa like the Sawants, Naiks, Gawas etc., sacrificed their precious lives ot save the temples from the onslaughts of these barbarous invadors, but in vain.Along with these invasions, the upheavals that ensued in Goa and the surrounding areas thereafter, greatly disturbed the peaceful normal conditions in and around Goa in the 14th century A.D.

These abnormal events must have lead to the out-migration of quite a few princely families, chieftains and military generals like the Sawants Naiks, Gawas, Phals, Pawars, Salunkes etc. from Goa to safer areas in the neighbourhood like Sadashivgad, Karwar etc., which must have resulted in fresh resettlements and regroupings of those people belonging to the warrior-classes under the leadership of the Kadambas of Deva-Wada.

Thus these abnormal historical situations, it could be presumed, must have helped to increase the number of Brahma-Khsatriya Konkanas in and around Sadashivgad during the 14th century A.D. Thereafter, in the 16th Century A.D. virtually an epoch-making period in the evolutionary history of the Kshatriya Konkan Maratha community, arose.

It was in 1471 A.D. that Muhammad Gavan invaded Ratnagiri district and captured the well fortified fort of Shringarpur and the area around and thus the Kshatriya princes of Shringarpur were rendered homeless and had to roam in wilderness for quite a long period of time. May be at the fag end of the 15th century A.D. or at the beginning of the 16th century A.D., one of those princes of Shringarpur who later happened to be renowned and respected as Kashipurush after he attained his life's end in the holy-place Kashi, at last stumbled upon the portals of Canacona and thus set in motion the advent of a new era with a new spirit and of course, a modified new name also in the otherwise dull and dormant history of the then community of the Brahma-Kshatriya Konkanas.

This brave prince of Shringarpur had extraordinary qualities of organisation and leadership which made him the idol of respect and reverence of the common man of Canacona area and around. Under his extra-ordinary leadership, the local aboriginals and others of importance started a popular movement to shirk off the allegedly selfish and exploitative leadership of the priestly classes. His resounding victory in the fight against exploitation of the common man made him a legendary figure in his sown left time with his large following popularly known as Kanakunkars accepting Shri Mallikarjun of Canacona as their family deity, literally opened a fresh chapter in the history of the Kshatriya Konkan Maratha community. He was revered immensely by the various princely families which had gathered around the Kadambas of Deva-Wada also.

As far as the Kanakunkars, the Kadambas and all others of the Kshatriya Konkan Maratha community have remained together peacefully so far, it could be presumed that both the Kadambas of Deva-Wada and the prince of Shringarpur (Kashipurush) along with those who had gathered around them, made peace with each other, accepted mutually each other and thus laid a firm foundation for the evolution of a larger community, more respected and more accepted.

It may not be out of place to quote the existence of the shrine of Kashi Purush in the temple complex of the Kadambas to Deva-wada and also the existence of the shrine of Kalyan-Purush in the temple complex of the Kanakunkars at Canacona which in all probability must have been symbolic of each others acceptance of their leadership. This mutual acceptance must be hailed in a big way indeed for it represents the confluence of two streams of thought which apparently seem to be poles apart from each other. But in any case the confluence of both these streams of thought is no doubt magical and exemplary indeed and thus harbingered a new ear of cohesion and oneness in the community.

Perhaps, this great confluence of these two streams of thoughts must have been able to bring about a radical change in the name of the community itself by changing from the "Brahma-Kshatriya Konkanas" to simply the "Kshatriya Konkanas" probably as a matter of compromise and consensus between the two main camps.

Now of course, coming down to the 17th century A.D. it must be admitted that the empire of the Moghal Emperor Aurangzeb had spread far and wide over most parts of India. But unfortunately his reign unlike that of his great grandfather Akbar the Great was marked by religious intolerance and injustice and as such the people belonging to the majority religion were very much unhappy throughout the country.

This was the period when the great Shivaji was born in Maharashtra. His fight against the religious intolerance and injustice to and harassment of those belonging to the majority religion, was an epochmaking struggle against the tyrants to restore the lost grounds of the glorious Indian culture. The Maratha Empire that he founded with an intense patriotic zeal was a matter to conjure with an undoubtedly forms a glorious chapter in the annals of the modern Indian history.

The way how the great Maratha monarch Chhatrapti Shivaji made the mighty Moghal empire tremble with fear at the slightest sign of his possible attack, the way how he made the Bahamani kingdoms in his neighbourhood spend sleepless nights for they never knew when this great Maratha warrior would invade their territories and the way how the crafty foreign powers like the British and the Potuguese intending to have a foothold in India were made to feel his Damocles sword hanging over their heads perpetually is a thrilling, romantic and unforgettable episode in the history of India itself. His incredibly bold affront to the mighty and ruthless Moghal Emperor Aurangzeb right in front of him and in his own Darbar and that too in the presence of the chosen high dignitaries of the Moghal Empire, his mysterious escape from the very high security Agra fort, the way how he made the Moghal general Shaistekhan run away to save himself and the manner in which he managed to finish the dangerous and mighty-looking Afzulkhan of the Bijapur Adilshahi and many more such unbelievable but nevertheless true episodes of adventure, made the great Maratha warrior a legendary national hero in his own life time.

It must be admitted on all hands that this great Maratha legendary hero left his own indelible imprint on the history of India by dint of his own inimitable prowess and success and above all by his unquestionable strength of character.As such, it should not be at all surprising to see that this great Maratha warrior, did not even fail to leave behind the imprint of his towering personality on the history of the Kshatriya Konkan Maratha community itself of the Uttara Kannada district.

In a span of just ten years from 1665 A.D. to 1675 A.D. he invaded and conquered the Karwar region–the southernmost part of Konkan–in all three times first in 1665 A.D., then in 1673 A.D. and again in 1675 A.D. It must be agreed that the great Maratha legendary hero not only conquered the Karwar region by his invasions but also succeeded in conquering the hearts of the people of the region, so much so that the Kshatriya Konkanas of the region in full appreciation of and respect and deep admiration for the great Chhatrapati Shivaji, preferred to call themselves as the Kshatriya Konkan Marathas instead, thenceforward, as they are addressed even today.

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