Chitpavan Brahman - Economy



The occupation of the Chitpavans in their original territory of the Konkan was farming, with some income from performing ritual among their own caste. However, they often were the khots of a Konkani village, a position combining the headmanship and the financial work of the village. In other areas of Maharashtra, Brahmans were the village accountants, but the head of the village was of a Maratha caste. The combination of the two responsibilities put power into the hands of a single head, and there were many efforts to reform the khoti system in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Chitpavans rarely took up agricultural work after their migration, nor did they become ritual priests except within their own caste. Many, however, became teachers and recognized Sanskrit scholars. Some of the best known Brahman scholars in the sacred city of Varanasi were Chitpavan migrants. From the nineteenth century on they have entered the professions in large numbers. The early entrance of the Chitpavans into new occupations and pursuits caused the Ratnagiri District Gazetteer of the late nineteenth century to describe them as "a very frugal, pushing, active, intelligent, well-taught, astute, self-confident and overbearing class [following] almost all callings and generally with success." A 1920 census list of their occupations reads: government service, lawyers, engineers, doctors, bankers, priests, writers, landowners, and "husbandmen" (farmers). One of the first Maharashtrian industrialists was Vishnu Ramchandra Velankar (b. 1890), founder of Gajanan Weaving Mills. Recently Chitpavans have entered high-tech industry and business.

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