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History of Goa

In the prehistoric period the Sumerians knew Goa.

1st Period (3rd Century BC): Goa formed part of the Mauryan Empire, followed by the Satavahanas of Kolhapur and the Bhojas whose capital was Chandor. From 580 – 750 AD the CHALUKYAS of Badami were Kings and 1086 saw the SILHARAS take control.

IInd Period (11C AD – 13C AD): Guhalla Deva of the Kadambas, originally from Mysore, consolidated his hold over Chandor. The Kadamba Princesses were much sought after for their beauty. On a pilgrimage to Somnath, a sudden storm threatened the King and his armada, at the mouth of the River Zuari. Arab traders, who lived in a settlement by the riverside, rescued them. In gratitude, he Arabs was allowed to carry on their commercial activities in the kingdom.

As their kingdom prospered, the rulers built a navy that was unbeatable in its time,Chandor, their capital was now too small. They then moved to Goa
Velha, where only the massive tank of the temple of Goddess Chamunda now remains. The monastery on the hill at Pilar houses a museum that has notable collections of this period.

Jayakeshi-I 1052 – 1080 AD proclaimed himself as Lord of the Konkan and Emperor of the Western Seas. On his death, Goa fell into the hands of the CHALUKYAS of Kalyani and later to the YADAVAS of Devgiri.

Muslims held sway from 1312 – 1370 AD over the Konkan region. However with the break up of the Tughlak Kingdom, it was the Bahmani Sultans who controlled Goa.

Madhav Mantri, who headed the army of Harihara of Vijaynagar,reclaimed and ruled Goa as Viceroy. He fortified its ports and through these, Arab steeds were imported for use in the Vijaynagar army. In 1469, the Bahamani vizier Khwaja Mohammed Gawan of Gulburga laid a two-year siege of Goa’s seaside forts and removed Vijaynagar.

Yusuf Adil Shah, the adopted son of Gawan, moved his capital to Ela in Old Goa in 1498. He later built himself a palace in Panjim, which now houses the Secretariat. His rule lasted for 12 years. On 25th November 1510 he lost Goa for good to Afonso de Albuquerque, a Portuguese, who had taken the city once before in March of that year. Portuguese rule lasted for 450 years.

On the 19th December 1981, troops of the Indian Union marched into Goa. By choice Goa remained a territory of the Indian Union, this lasted for 26 years and on the 30th May 1987 Goa was made the 25th state of India. In August 1992 Konkanni the language of Goa was included in the Indian Constitution.

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 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.
Goa - Early Recorded History Goan history dates back to antiquity. Rock carvings and rock engravings found at various places in Goa indicate that Stone Age people had settled in this ancient land around 10000 - 8000 BC. These people were hunters and gatherers.

In modern recorded history, the first written mention of the land of Goa is on the cuneiform writings of the Sumerian era around 2200 BC. The King Gudea, the ruler of the kingdom of Lagash, refers to Goa as Gubio. In support of this theory, interestingly, the agricultural fields in Goa follow the Sumerian measure of 12 cubits to a pole or 0.495 of a metre to a cubit. This is different from the 0.46 unit found in most areas of India.

There is also some evidence to suggest that around 1775 BC, the Phoenicians, who were expert seafarers, settled in the areas around Goa.

The Vedic Period

Goa is then referred to as Gomantak (in Sanskrit meaning the fertile land with plentiful water) around the period 1000 - 500 BC. This is considered to be the time when the epics of Mahabharat were written.

In this epic of Hindu mythology, the migration of Saraswat Brahmins from the north to the present day area of Goa is woven around the legend of Parashuram, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Goa finds its first mention as Gomantak in the Harivamsha part of the epic Mahabharat.

In this southward migration, the Saraswat Brahmins who first went to Bengal, are supposed to have settled in the Konkan area around the year 1000 BC. The indigenous locals of the area, the Kunbi tribals, worked together with the Brahmin families to create a fertile stretch of land between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats.

The Aryan Conquest

The oldest archaeological evidence of Goa's ancient history date back from this period. Excavations have unearthed copper plates, stone inscriptions, coins, manuscripts and temple inscriptions which throw some light on the history of this period. The Girnar rock-edict of the Mauryan King Ashok mentions the people of Goa as Peitinikas, Rashtrikas and Bhojas.
The history of the mighty Mauryan dynasty finds the next instance of a historical reference to Goa. At this time during the period between 321 to 184 BC, Goa was under an administrative region by the name Kuntala. However with the death of the legendary Ashoka the Great in 232 BC, the Maurya empire fell into a rapid decline and Goa soon changed hands. Incidentally, Buddhism is thought to have reached Goa around this period under the Mauryas, as did Jainism as evidenced by the ruins of Jain temples which have been discovered at Kudnem.

The Marathas from the neighbouring areas took control of Goa from the Mauryas, only to be shortly ousted by the strong Anand Chuttus who ruled for a short while themselves. Then came the rule of the Satavahanas, who already controlled a large area on the western coast of India.

They administered the Konkan areas directly and appointed the Bhojas, related to them matrimonially, as their feudatories in the Goa. Goa flourished during the Satavahana period, becoming an international business-trading centre having relations with Africa, the Middle East and even the Roman Empire.

An important book entitled Geography, from the era of Roman Emperor Augustus (27 BC -14 AD), written by Strabo the Greek geographer, makes a reference to Konkan with the name of Komkvi describing it as a unique province of India.



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