"This narrative history of a single caste of western India from the eighteenth to the twentieth century examines the background of the caste`s separate identity and the evolution of social and economic patterns and institutions which contributed to its maintenance.
Drawing on government documents, temple and monastery records, newspapers, family histories, caste publications and personal interviews the author traces the growth of the Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmans from a small, relatively insignificant rural group to a thriving, significantly urbanized community by the 1930s.
Commencing with a discussion of the Gaud Saraswat Brahman caste cluster of Goa from which the Saraswats emerged, the study then describes their creation of a separate caste possessing a distinctive religious affiliation with a new spiritual lineage of swamis (preceptors). There follows an analysis of the impact of colonial rule on the Saraswats. New opportunities of education, employment and urban migration coincided with innovations of orthodoxy creating significant challenges between forces of reform and reaction within the community. The twentieth century saw a reconciliation and renewal of community with rapprochement between laity and their swami laying a foundation for reintegration of the caste.
Described as a ‘basic study for anyone interested in the impact of modernization on the resiliency of caste groups in India’, the work explores those elements in the Saraswat’s history in which ties of caste were significant. This lively account further illuminates the complexities of change in ‘traditional’ India under the impact of a colonial regime and modernizing society and culture."