Cochin GSB's

Cochin GSB's

Cochin GSB's are a branch of the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins community of India. GSBs of Cochin form the southern most subsect of Saraswat Brahmins of West coast. GSBs of north Kerala are similar to GSBs of Canara in speech and customs, whereas GSBs of former princely states of Cochin and Travancore have developed their own dialect and Customs, which distinguish them from rest of GSB community, this subsect is now called Cochin GSBs. In Geographical terms, Cochin GSBs are those who live south of Trissur destrict of Kerala.


GSBs started trickling into Cochin from late 13th century onwards following the the military campaign by Alla-ud-din Khilji. The largest and the last great migration happened in A.D 1560 in wake of inquisition in Goa. History of Cochin GSBs can be divided into three eras.

Late 13th century to late 18th century

This period marked the golden age of Cochin GSBs. This period saw the emergence of Cochin as the focal point of lucrative spice trade among other things. Cochin konkanis played a key role in the emergence of Cochin as the international trade centre. Local rajas have granted them privileges to encourage trade in their domain. With the advent of Europeans, Cochin GSBs quickly developed trade links with them. In A.D 1542 Kashimath samstan was established thus establishing religious autonomy of Cochin GSBs.

A papal bull initiated inquisition in Goa 1560, triggering massive exodus of GSBs from Goa. A large contingent of GSBs joined existing GSB settlement of Cochin. Many of the newcomers were poor. The ascendancy of the Dutch in Cochin saw GSBs emerge as one of the most important trading communities of Cochin. It must be noted that Cochin GSBs did not play any role in inland trade of Kerala. All major GSBs temples were established in this period. Prosperous GSBs patronized the temples.

The GSB temples and the Kashimath samstan are reminders of the success and stature that Cochin GSBs achieved in this era.

Late 18th century to Late 20th century

Two major developments which affected GSBs in an adverse manner was the crowning of Shakthan Thampuran and the decline of Dutch power, both later in the 18th century. Following a dispute, Sakthan Tampuran ordered sacking of Cochin tirumala devaswom and GSB businesses. Many prominent GSBs were killed and the Cochin GSB temple was looted. Social status of Cochin GSBs suffered immensely from this episode. This was the beginning of a long isolation of Cochin GSBs from the rest of the Kerela population.

Around the same time, British replaced Dutch as the paramount power of Cochin. This episode was much more far reaching in consequnces as far as Cochin GSBs were concerned. The British did not have any commercial interest in Cochin as Dutch did, which invevitably led to the decline of Cochin as a commercial hub. The Cochin GSBs who were the middlemen between Europeans and Malayalis were thus deprived of the source of income. Large sections of the community was quickly reduced to poverty under the circumstances. While community as a whole declined, the GSB temples continued to be rich providing the focal point around which the GSB life revolved, both in spiritual and secular sense.

By early 20th century, Cochin GSBs were reduced to an impoverished minority. Around this time cochin GSBs started making forays into inland trade. A small but prosperous business class emerged in the ranks of Cochin GSBs. 1930s were the times when Kerala witnessed major social changes which saw the caste system weakening. GSB community remained largely impervious to these changes, and preferred to live in isolation. Land reforms initiated by government of Kerala contributed a lot to the decline of GSBs temples, a decline which continues even today. These two centuries were a period of great stagnation and degeneration among GSBs, a blow from which Cochin GSBs are yet to recover completely.

From 1950 onwards Cochin GSBs have started taking up white collar jobs, Banks founded by GSBs of Canara provided opportunities which previously did not exist. This gave rise to a small GSB middle class. Isolation of GSB community, however, prevented them from the reaping the benefits of Gulf boom of 70s, weakening their relative position in the society further.

Towards the end of this period Cochin GSB community consisted of a small wealthy upper class, a small middle class, and large low income group.

Last decades of 20th century to present

Breaking down of joint family system saw many GSBs venturing out of the ghettos, thus bringing them in contact with various malayali communities. This has resulted in the infusion of some fresh ideas into the community. Coming out of shell, Cochin GSB have started making progress in various fields. Today Cochin GSBs are much more integrated to the larger malayali communities than they were quarter of a century ago.

The GSBs have also benefited from the accelerated pace of Globalization and the resulting boom from 1990s. The GSB middle class is fast expanding. Financial status of the community has steadily been improving with the wealth distribution becoming more even. Once a trading community, Cochin GSBs are now getting employed increasingly in service sector. A small trading class still thrives.

ize of the Community

In the absence of reliable census data, it is difficult to ascertain the number of Cochin GSBs. The GSB temple maintain a voter list consists of adult males above 18. Based on these voter lists, which consists of adult males, maintained by GSB temples, based on these voter lists a figure of 30,000 may be extrapolated. Cochin GSBs. Most of them live in Cherelai area of Ernakulam city. Allepuzha, Shertalay, Thuravoor, Kayamkulam, Kollam, and downtown Ernakulam also have sizeable GSB populations.


Most Cochin GSBs speak a dialect of Konkani among themselves. Cochin konkani has incorporated large number of Malayalam words, extent of Malayalam influence varies from place to place. GSBs of Cherelai and Ernakulam area of Cochin speak purer Konkani. As one moves southwards influence of Malayalam becomes more pronounced. Almost all of Cochin GSBs write/read/speak Malayalam. Older GSBs hailing from predominantly GSB areas tend to speak grammatically wrong Malayalam with an accent. Malayalam spoken by Cochin GSBs is often caricatured in films and on stage in the past. Younger generation of Cochin GSBs have better command over Malayalam. Some Cochin GSBs have adapted Malayalam as their mother tongue, completely giving up Konkani. A Good number of Cochin Konkanis have knowledge of Hindi. English is equally popular. Many GSBs of Cochin are also proficient in Gujarathi. There have been some efforts to develop Konkani, centred most around Cochin, but often they tend to be individual efforts. GSBs of Cochin by and large are indifferent to such efforts. T.D.High school of Cochin offers Konkani as third language. Konkani literature is insignificant save some poems and devotional songs.

ocial profile

Two centuries of introverted life has somewhat taken a toll on the Cochin GSBs and has deprived the community of social and linguistic skills required to thrive in a state which has a different social structure than the state in which they have their roots. It has resulted in a community which is essentially introverted which internalises its energies, and is not integrated completely with the mainstream of Kerala society. Till some years ago, GSBs were caricatured in popular media. Even though such caricaturing is not in fashion any more, stereotyping of GSBs still persists, albeit with less intensity.


Cochin GSBs have adapted vegetarianism inorder to be accepted as Brahmins by Kerela society, this distinguishes them from rest of the southern Saraswats. The Cochin GSB cuisine is therefore vegetarian which retains many Goan characteristics. The main staple is rice and lentils(dal). This is supplemented with vegatbles. Ambat, Gussi, Valval, Humann, etc are some traditional GSB gravies. Cochin GSBs prepare a variety of rice pancakes(Dosas) and dumplings(idlis). Santhan(a flat steamed rice dumpling) and Hittu(pyramid shaped steamed rice dumpling wrapped in sachet made of jack fruit leaves) is unique to Cochin GSB cuisine. Pathrode is another GSB delicacy which is made of colocasia leaves and rice.


Cochin GSBs are vaishnavs following Dwaita school of Madhvacharya and are followers of Kashi Mutt which traces origins to Kumbhakonam Math.

The Cochin GSB life revolves around their temples, there are about 35 of them in south/central Kerela. Annual festival of the temple is an occasion of great celebration among Cochin GSBs, diwali is also celebrated with great enthusiasm. Ugadi, Ganesh Chaturti, etc are other festivals celebrated by the Cochin GSBs. Some GSB gramas celebrate Ukuli Cochin GSBs have great devotion to Tirupati Balaji. Presiding deity of most GSB temples is Balaji. GSBs are also devoted to Narasimha. The GSBs of Cochin are enthusiastic pilgrims. Tirupati is the most popular destination. More and more are visiting pilgrim centres of North India. Goa and Karnataka also figure out in GSB pilgrim itenerary. Pandharpur which used be another pilgrimage destination no longer enjoys the popularity it used in the past. Singing bhajans is very popular among Cochin GSBs, Marathi bhajans praising Vithoba being the most popular. Unfortunately Sanskrit scholarship is non existent among Cochin GSBs. Cochin GSB priests are only competent in performing poojas, none of them are known to be vedic scholars. GSB priests officiate mainly in GSB temples and Households. Their services are also sought by expatriate north and western Indian communities. Community now faces acute shortage of priests.


Thanks to the Kerala government policy of spreading literacy, Cochin GSBs have a high literacy rate. Community is now placing high premium on education. Commerce is the most popular discipline among Cochin GSBs. Chartered accountancy is highly regarded. Engineering is a sought after discipline, more and more GSBs are now pursuing Engineering degrees. In the past, Cochin GSBs boasted famous doctors in their ranks, but nowadays the number of Cochin GSBs pursuing a career in medicine has been reduced to a trickle. Few Cochin GSBs pursue liberal arts and languages other than Hindi.

In spite of being a small community, Cochin GSBs have made their contribution to educational field of Kerela. Prestigious Alleppuzha Medical college was founded by GSBs of Allapuzha. Padiyar College of Homeopathy is yet another GSB venture. Many GSB temples run schools. T.D.School of Cochin is the first co educational institute of Kerala. Cochin T.D temple also manages a teachers training centre. There is another T.D.School in Allapuzha which is run by the Allapuzha T.D temple.


Baliga, Bhaktha, Bhat, Kamath, Kini,Sharma,Nayak, Mallya, Pai, Padiyar, Prabhu,Kilikar, Shenoy. etc are common surnames among Cochin GSBs. Some Bhat families have adapted the surname Vadhyar, some use Mallan instead of Mallya. Sharma and Rao are surnames adapted by Cochin GSBs. Generally Cochin GSBs do not add name of their village to their name like Karnataka GSBs. Adding name of their Tharavadu is a Malayali custom adapted by some Cochin GSBs. Large of number of Cochin GSBs have added father's first name to their given names and dropped surnames altogether.

Economic profile

The most prominent among Cochin GSBs are traders, Some of them have achieved great degree of success. GSBs traders have done well in Hardware, Textile, and Sanitary retailing. GSBs have also excelled in Publishing and construction businesses. Traders, though prosperous, do not take part in international trade as their forefathers did. The professional class consists mainly of Chartered accountants, engineers, and lawyers. Most of the salaried class include bank employees and government employees. IT boom has helped Cochin GSBs to improve their social and financial status. Cochin GSBs can now be found almost all over the world. Many have migrated to the US, UK, Europe, and Australia as well as to large metropoles of India. A good number of cochin GSB families have moved to middle strata of the society thanks to the IT boom. Unfortunately, benefits of education and globalization are yet to percolate down to sizeable sections of Cochin GSBs.

Famous Cochin GSBs

[ T.V.R.Shenoy] (Famous journalist)

Late Dr. K.Narayana Pai - Famous physician of yesteryears, Honoured with Padmashri by Govt of India.

[ Dinesh Nayak] (Represented India in Hockey)

[ Balakrishna Kamath] (Upcoming Mridangist) Srimad Sudheendra Thirtha Swami - Pontif of Kashi Mutt samsthan

Srimad Raghavendra Thirtha Swami - Pontif of Kashi Mutt samsthan

Appu Bhat, Ranga Bhat, and Vinayak Pandit - The trio who helped Dutchman Van Reede to compile "Hortus Malabaricus", complete study on the herbs and other medicinal plants of Kerala.

[ Durga Viswanath] (Noted Singer)

[ Roopa Revathi] (Noted Singer, Winner of Amritha TV's reality show Super Star Global 2007-08)

Other Konkani speaking communities of Kerala

Contrary to the popular perception, the GSBs are not the only konkani speaking community of South/Central Kerala. Largest konkani speaking community in this parts of the country are Kudumbis. It is said that Konkani spoken by Kudumbis is by far the purest strain of Konkani. Vaniyas are yet another community whose mother tongue is Konkani. Negligible number of Konkani speaking Nawayat Muslims and Mangalorean Catholics domicile Cochin. There is a considerable social interaction between GSBs and Kudumbis.

The GSBs are identified with Konkani language in Kerala. There are concerted efforts among other Konkani speaking communities to give up Konkani in favour of Malayalam to improve social status,A trend emulated even by some GSBs of certain parts of Kerala, most notably in Kottayam district.

ee also

* Kashi Mutt
* Kerala
* Cochin
* Saraswat Brahmins
* Gowd Saraswat Brahmins
* shenoy

External links

* [ Thuravoor thirumala Sree Lakshmi Narasimha temple ]
* [ The Konkani march ]
* [ All you want to know about GSB Konkani (Updated Daily*****)]
* [ GSB Kerala Homepage]
* [ Kashi Math Homepage]
* [ Holi celebration among Cochin GSBs]
* [ Gosripuram, the largest GSB temple of Kerela]
* [ A Charitable Trust of GSB for GSB by GSB]
* [ A Senior Citizen home for GSB by GSB of GSB ]
* [ Sri Kuladevatha Mandir Complex,Ambalamedu, Kochi]
* [ Another matrimonial Site for GSB ]
* [ A site about GSBs at Kanhangad]
* [ A site about GSBs at Ernakulam]
* [ Kashimath at Kalpi]
* [ Sri Mahaganapathi and Mahamaya Temple at Shirali ]
* [ Sri Venkatramana Temple at Karkala]
* [ Sri Venkatramana Temple at Kasargod]
* [ GSB Temples and Town of Kumta]
* [ GSB Temple and Town of Cherai]
* [ GSB Temple and Town of Calicut]
* [ GSB Temple and Town of Kayamkulam]
* [ GSB Temple and Town of Chennamangalam]
* [ Weblog of Anugraha Charitable Trust]
* [ New born babies of GSB]


* Dakshinatya Saraswats by V.S.Kudva
* History of Kerala by Padmanabha Menon

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