[Advaita-l] Saurashtra

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Jan 18 01:03:47 CST 2012

[was Re: [Advaita-l] Query regarding the birthplace of Bhaskararaya]

On Sat, 17 Dec 2011, sriram wrote:

> About Sourashtras 
> -the word Sou indicates 100 in Hindhi-Rashtras indicate princely states.These 
> states were integrated into Indian Union by Sri Sir Vallabhai Patel.There 
> were 562 princely states in our country and it is to the credit of Sir 
> Vallabhai Patel that these states joined the Indian Union.The Sourashtrians 
> then migrated to South and are concentrated in Madurai District.They are 
> known as pattu nool-silk thread- dealers.

It is true that the peninsular part of Gujarat known as Kathiawad or 
Saurashtra (where my family is from incidently) contained many princely 
states which were atleast on paper not part of British India but to derive 
the word Saurashtra from them seems rather fanciful IMO.  For a start 
there were some 202 of them (out of the 500+ in all India) but nearly all 
only came into existence after the breakup of the Mughal empire and the 
sultanate of Ahmedabad and the word Saurashtra is much older than that. 
I have been told 2 etymologies, from Su + rashtra "the good country" or 
from Saura + rashtra "the country of the sun worshippers."  The area has a 
higher number of Surya mandirs[1] than other parts of India and the Saura 
influence is an important part of the local culture.  For instance our 
kuladevi Randala Ma is the wife of Surya Bhagawan.

On Sat, 17 Dec 2011, vadhula at yahoo.com wrote:

> I have heard of Sourashtran Brahmins of TN. Unlike Gujarati Brahmins,
> many are non veg and are into silk weaving. Paradoxical ? Perhaps
> Jaldhar Vyas can comment. They do undergo upanayana and many have taken
> Iyer surname.

All I know about them is from a small book written by the Gujarati 
historian I.R. Dave.[2]  In it he correlates many words of the 
Saurashtrian dialect with medieval Gujarati forms and therefore considers 
the idea of northern origin plausible.  I believe he also mentioned that 
the status of those Saurashtrians as Brahmanas was only settled in a 
series of court cases in the 19th century so more likely they are a 
community sui generis.

[1] Modhera being the most famous example though only on the 
geographic outskirts of Saurashtra  see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modhera

[2] "Saurashtrians in South India" I.R. Dave, Saurashtra University Press, 1976

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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