Brahman divisions

Frank Conlon conlon at
Sat Jun 7 23:49:09 UTC 1997


A poster earlier today cited Arthur Crawford's _Our Troubles..._ in
connection with some comments and descriptions of Maharashtra brahmans,
and in particular, the characteristics of Konkanastha or Chitpavan

May I urge the utmost caution in relying upon Arthur Crawford's
"ethnographic" reportage; along with numberous other British officers,
officials and journalists, the Konkanastha jati was a constant bete noir
for the bulk of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.  Although
Mountstuart Elphinstone's initial policies in the desh following its
conquest in 1818 tended toward conciliation of the previously powerful
elites of the late Maratha raj, by the 1840s the "brahman menace" was
pretty much a set piece of the colonial view of the Maharashtrian scene.

The predominance of brahmans taking up new educational opportunities and
their many leading roles in a variety of public activities during the
period of colonial rule in nineteenth century Maharashtra was explored by
the late Ellen McDonald Gumperz about thirty years back, although
relatively little of her work ever got published.

On an earlier post concerning various bits of "folklore" about the origins
of various brahman castes, I can only report that in sorting through some
of these bits of "folklore" I never found a shred of verifiable historical

Frank F. Conlon
Professor of History
Director, South Asia Center
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
Co-editor of H-ASIA
<conlon at>

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list