Introduction / History
The Deshastha Brahmins live in the region of west central India. Their history goes back over three thousand years ago and to the time of the writing of the Vedas, the most ancient Hindu scriptures. Their name means "residents of the country." The Deshastha have a long history of Hindu philosophers, scholars, saints and famous priests. During the Maratha Empire (1647-1818) the Deshastha served as the leading priests, administrators and military officers of the realm.
Where Are they Located?
Today the Deshastha officiate at the main Hindu temples of the Indian state of Maharashtra. They continue their role as Hindu priests, scholars and professors of religion. Some Deshastha have taken white-collar jobs as accountants, scientists, and mathematicians and in pubic administration.
Some Deshastha hold large tracts of land that is tilled by members of lower castes.
The Deshastha speak Marathi in their homes. As educated Indians they also speak Hindi, English and other regional Indian languages.
The great majority of the Deshastha Brahmins live Maharashtra. Some also live in the Indian states of Karnataka, Gujarat and other regions of the country of India.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Deshastha Brahmins live at the highest levels of Indian society. They strongly encourage their children to attain graduate degrees in universities. Most now live in urban centers but some still live in villages where they are the priests and accountants.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Deshastha are endogamous, that is they marry only within their own group or caste. They are vegetarians although some young people in the cities have taken to eating meat except for beef. Families arrange marriages with the consent of the young people. They allow cousin marriages. Babies receive their names from their father's sister. Each family has its own household shrine and patron deity. They offer food and incense to their gods at their private shrine and at public temples.
They take pride in their Hindu heritage and are among the most devout Hindus in the nation.
The Deshastha Brahmins practice Hinduism, the national religion and culture of India. The worship and serve the many gods of the Hindu pantheon. Some worship Vishnu as the supreme god. Ganesha and his festival, Ganesh Chaturthi, is the main holiday of the year. The Deshastha eat special foods and put a clay image of Ganesha or their family god into a river or the sea. Diwali, the festival of lights, is another popular holiday as is Navratri, the nine-day celebration of autumn.
What Are Their Needs?
The Deshastha cremate their dead and the ashes are put in a sacred river on the third day of the funeral.
The Deshastha Brahmins must see themselves as sinners in need of a Savior. They need to realize that the gods of Hinduism will not forgive their sins or grant them eternal life. They need to see that the Bible not the Vedas is the inspired Word of God. They need to see true Christianity lived out before them.
* Scripture Prayers for the Brahmin Deshastha in India.