Kokanastha Brahmins are believed to be intelligent and resourceful and hardworking honest people. Today we will see the ethnic origin of Chitpavan Brahmins (Konkanastha).
This content is from official Vedas (Chitpavan Group) rather than comparing it to MYTHS like bene israel with Parshurama.
The present day Chitpavan Brahmins have descended from Sage Parshurama (born 5000 B.C). Parshurama was the son of Jamadagni and Renuka who belonged to the Kshatriya, or warrior caste. He was great worshipper of Lord Shiva and a devoted son. He was blessed with parshu a kind of weapon by Lord Shiva himself. He was a master at weaponry and taught the knowledge he had to Guru Dronacharya, Karna & Arjuna.
Raja Kartavirya once burnt down the monastery of Sage Vashishti. The angry sage then cursed him that "Parshurama shall kill you". Not the one to keep away from mischief, the King stole the Holy Cow called as "Kamadhenu" from the sage. On hearing of this mischief angry Parshurama tracked the King down and killed him with his parshu. In order to avenge for their father's death the sons of the slain King killed the sage Vasishti in retaliation. This act really angered Parshurama and he pledged that "he would get rid of the Kshatriya's (the warrior caste) 21 times from the face of the earth". And he did that. So as a penance for this horrific genocide (ethnic cleansing) he organised a very large yadnya and donated all the lands which he had acquired to Sage Kashyap.
Then he left for the Mahendra mountains in southern India to meditate. After a long and severe meditation on the sea coast, he pleased Varun the Lord of Rain and asked him to grant him new land from the sea. But in vain, the sea would not retract, so in anger he put his arrow to his bow and shot it in the seaward direction. Parshurama's anger was well known even to the Gods in Heaven. Lord of Sea was terrified and requested Parshurama not to do such a deed. But who can get back a arrow which has left the bow. The sea backed off to that region where the arrow had found its mark. This new holy land was known as "Konkan". Here on this new land Parshurama settled his fellow Brahmins, these 60 families formed the basis of original 60 surnames.
However there is another tale, which is more popular in the Sahyadri's or Desh i.e. the plateau region of Deccan which forms the major part of Maharashtra state, in modern India.
After committing the genocide of the Kshatriya's, Parshurama had committed worst kind of sin. In order to get salvation for this act he had make very large offerings to the Gods by prayers and worship (pooja). Parshurama was known for his legendary anger and capabilities, thus other Brahmins were not ready to be associated with his functions. Hence the prayers would have been without the official sanction of other learned Brahmins.
As fate would be, at that very moment Parshurama saw 14 dead bodies floating in the sea. Parshurama purified the dead bodies on the funeral pyre and brought them back to life. These fourteen men formed the basis of 14 Gotra's of the Chitpavan Brahmins. Afterwards they were settled by Parshurama by reclaiming the land from the sea.
In Sanskrit the rich language of ancient India, "Chita" - means pyre and "Pavan" means pure. Since the bodies were brought back to life on a pyre and were purified hence they would be called as CHITAPAVAN meaning those who were purified by fire. And since Parshurama was responsible for their new life, they would be brahmins like him.
Originally published at kokanastha.com on November 12, 2001.