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Havyaka Brahmins

Analysis of modern Siberian populations revealed a 1.2% prevalence in Altaians, 0.2% in the Buryats, and 0.9% in the Khanty people. In India, N1a was only identified in Indo-Aryan speakers at a frequency of 8.3%. All but one of the N1a individuals were members of the Havik group, a Hindu Pancha Dravida Brahmin upper caste subsect of Hinduism primarily from the Indian state of Karnataka and Northern Kerala.

Havyakas profess the Advaita philosophy propounded by Adi Shankaracharya. Most Havyakas are Yajurvedi Brahmins and follow the Baudhayana Shrauta Sutra. Few Havyakas follow Rigveda which is the oldest in vedas e.g., Vaidyas. Havyakas celebrate almost all festivals celebrated in Hinduism.

The word Havyaka was transcended from words Havyaga or Haveega which means the one who performs Havana (Havya) and Homa (Gavya), since the very purpose of Havyaka Brahmins was to perform the royal rituals and the related functions of the empirical government. In ancient times the region of today’s Uttara Kannada between Konkan in the north & Tuluva in the south was known by the name of Haiva. This could be the possible source of the term ‘Haiga’ as Havyakas are also referred to. In fact, the name “Haiga” persists in Havyaka lexicon.

The word Havyaka might also be derived from the place named Haigunda. That region of Karnataka which has been inhabited by Havyakas from ancient times is also called Parashuramakshethra, Gorastradesha, Gokarnamandala.

Historically, it is proven that Havyakas Brahmins were invited and brought to present day Karnataka around the end of 3rd century ACE or beginning of 4th century ACE from a place called Ahicchatra. Other sects like Shivalli, Smartha etc., are believed to have arrived later around 7th century ACE.

The Brahmin king Mayooravarma was instrumental in bringing the first Havyaka families. It is proven through Talagunda and Varadahalli inscriptions that Kadambas brought 32 Havyaka families in to perform the royal rituals and the related functions of the empirical government from a place called Ahichchathra in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

There is a suggestion that this is somewhere in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. However, the archeological site of Ahicchatra lies in the district Bareily UP. Thus the first few families were settled in Haigunda (a small island in Sharavati river, Honavar taluk, Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka)and also in Banavasi, the capital of the Kadambas and the place adored by Pampa.

Because there were vedic Brahmins in the Dravida country as attested by Skaandha and other Puranas also because Havyakas are a subsect of Pancha Dravida Brahmins, Vidwan Timmappa Kalasi hypothesizes that Havyakas are the descendants of Brahmins who left Dravida country during the acscent of Jaina tradition and support for vedic traditions waned in the south during 3rd century BCE to 3rd century ACE.

King Mayooravarma’s act of inviting Havyakas to Banavasi has been inscribed on a stone slab (Shilashasana) from the period of the Kadambas, which now lies near the village of Varadahalli in Sagar Taluk of Shimoga district. However, Eminent historian D R Bhandarkar includes castes like Bhojaka, Chitpavan, Havyaka, Karhade, Nagar Brahmins, as of partly foreign origin.

Most of the Havyakas of today follow either Ramachandrapura Mutt (presently headed by Shri Raghaveshwara Bharathi Swamiji) or Swarnavalli Mutt (presently headed by Shree Gangadharendra Saraswati Swamiji) and are guided by the advaita philosophy of Shankaracharya.

Till recently Havyakas were primarily engaged in agriculture especially growing betel nut, paddy, banana, coconut etc., while some practiced vedic professions like priests. A few decades back they also started entering into other vocations like business, education, employment etc.

During Indian freedom struggle, Havyaka community played a prominent part. Men and women took leading role in Salt March and No-Tax Campaign. Dodmane Hegdes of Siddapur had an important role in freedom movement at all stages. Many of the Bhat Priests who served and serving at Pashupatinath temple complex in Kathmandu, Nepal for last 350 years have been Havyaka Brahmins.

Havyakas are mainly concentrated in the Honnavar, kumta, Ankola, Sirsi, Siddapur and Yellapur taluks of Uttara Kannada district, entire Dakshina Kannada district, Sagara, Soraba and Tirthahalli, Hosanagara taluks of Shimoga district, Madikeri of Kodagu District in Karnataka and Kasaragod district in Kerala.

They are now spread all over India, especially in metropolitan cities of Bangalore, Goa, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and other industrial and business centres. Havyakas are also in large numbers in countries like United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and other places outside India.

Population of Havyakas all around the world is estimated to be about 12,00,000 . They have a very skewed male to female ratio, thus resulting in seeking of brides from other castes.

Havyakas derive their last names from the jobs that they perform rather than by their origin. Names include saaranga, Vaidya, Bhat, Hegde, Avadhani, Bhagwat, Dixit, Gaonkar, Joisa, Karnik, Murthy, Pandit, Puranik, Rao, Raysad, Sabhahit, Sharma, Vathi, Shastri, Shanbhag, Shastry, Upadhyaya,Upadhya, Baravani, Hebbar, Dhooli, Gadde, yaji and Joshi.


The Havyakas are united by their unique language. They speak a dialect of Kannada known as Havigannada (Havyaka+Kannada). It is 60-70% similar to mainstream Kannada, but draws more words from ancient Kannada. However, most mainstream Kannada speakers find it difficult to understand Havyaka Kannada.

Proto-Kannada is said to have evolved after separating from its source around c. 1500 BCE, while its script evolved during Ashokan times around the 4th or 3rd century BCE from ancient Brahmi.

Havigannada or Havyaka Bhaashe or Havyaka Kannada is the native language of Havyakas. It is a dialect of Kannada.Havigannada is used only by Havyakas. It uses similar verbs and words as mainstream Kannada. However, it has more in common with Halegannada (which is not in use today). This might be the reason why even native Kannadigas find it difficult to comprehend it for the first time.

Halegannada is the Kannada language which has transformed from the 5th century CE during the reign of the Kadambas of Banavasi (ancient royal dynasty of Karnataka 345-525 CE).

Halegannada is derived from two Kannada terms, hala and Kannada. Hala, a prefix in Kannada language, means old or ancient. In Kannada grammar there are sandhis in which while pronouncing two words in combined form, the ka becomes ga (aadesha sandhi) and so Hale and Kannada becomes HaleGannada.

The Modern Kannada language has evolved in four phases over the years. From the Purva Halegannada in the 5th century (as per early epigraphic records), to the Halegannada (Old Kannada) between the 9th and 14th century, the Nadugannada (Middle Kannada) between the 14th and 18th century, it has evolved to the present day Hosagannada (Modern Kannada) from 1800 to present. Hosagannada (Modern Kannada) is the official language of the state of Karnataka and is one of the 22 official national languages of the Republic of India and is the native language of approximately 89% of Karnataka’s population.

The Havyaka dialect is supposed to be quite old. Its origins, like many other things in India, are shrouded in mystery. Notably certain Havigannada speakers from Dakshina Kannada (Panja side) and Uttara Kannada district, uses neutral gender in place of feminine gender while addressing females.

This fact can be correlated to north Indian languages which lack neutral gender and restricted to masculine or feminine genders while most of Dravidian languages use words with Masculine, feminine and neutral genders.

The similarity of Havigannada words with Tamil, Malayalam and old Kannada and variability of the gender usage with respect to the major Dravidian languages help the hypothesis that Havyaka Brahmins migrated to the region during the Proto-Dravidian languages and Havigannada was developed with the prevailing languages with North-Indian influence. But Havyaks in certain part of Karnataka, like Kundapura, Thirthahalli and Kodagu do not speak Havigannada.

Kannada is a language spoken in India predominantly in the state of Karnataka. Kannada, whose native speakers are called Kannadigas (Kannaḍigaru) and number roughly 38 million, is one of the 40 most spoken languages in the world. It is one of the scheduled languages of India and the official and administrative language of the state of Karnataka.

The Kannada language is written using the Kannada script, which evolved from the 5th-century Kadamba script. Kannada is attested epigraphically for about one and a half millennia, and literary Old Kannada flourished in the 6th-century Ganga dynasty and during the 9th-century Rashtrakuta Dynasty. Kannada has an unbroken literary history of over a thousand years.

Kannada is a Southern Dravidian language and according to Dravidian scholar Sanford Steever, its history can be conventionally divided into three periods; Old Kannada (halegannada) from 450–1200 A.D., Middle Kannada (Nadugannada) from 1200–1700 A.D., and Modern Kannada from 1700 to the present. Kannada is influenced to an appreciable extent by Sanskrit.

According to the Dravidian scholars Bhadriraju Krishnamurti and Kamil Zvelebil, Kannada and Tamil split into independent languages from the Proto-Tamil–Kannada subgroup around 8th–6th. century B.C.,

Influences of other languages such as Prakrit and Pali can also be found in Kannada language. The scholar Iravatham Mahadevan proved that Kannada was already a language of rich oral tradition earlier than 3rd century B.C., and based on the native Kannada words found in Prakrit and Tamil inscriptions of that period, Kannada must have been spoken by a widespread and stable population.

The scholar K.V. Narayana claims that many tribal languages which are now designated as Kannada dialects could be nearer to the earlier form of the language with lesser influence from other languages.

The sources of influence on Kannada grammar appear to be three-fold; Panini’s grammar, non-Paninian schools of Sanskrit grammar, particularly Katantra and Sakatayana schools, and Prakrit grammar.

Literary Prakrit seemed to have prevailed in Karnataka since ancient times. The vernacular Prakrit speaking people, may have come in contact with the Kannada speakers, thus influencing their language, even before Kannada was used for administrative or liturgical purpose. Kannada phonetics, morphology, vocabulary, grammar and syntax show significant Sanskrit and Prakrit influence.

Some examples of naturalised (tadbhava) words of Prakrit origin in Kannada are baṇṇa derived from vaṇṇa, arasu (king), and from Sanskrit, varṇa (color), hunnime (new moon) from puṇṇivā, paurṇimā (full moon), and rāya from rāja (king). Kannada has numerous borrowed (tatsama) words such as dina, kopa, surya, mukha, nimiṣa, anna.

Pre-old Kannada (or Purava HaleGannada) was the language of Banavasi in the early Common Era, the Satavahana and Kadamba periods and hence has a history of over 2000 years. The Ashoka rock edict found at Brahmagiri (dated to 230 BC) has been suggested to contain words in identifiable Kannada.

Haplogroup N1a (mtDNA)


Havyaka Brahmins



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