Havyaka Heritage

Havyaka or Haveek Brahmins are a small community with unique and dynamic culture, who migrated to present day Karnataka from northern part of India around 4th century CE. The Havyaka Brahmins are concentrated in Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, and few places in Shivamogga district of Karnataka.

The History

The History of Havyaka Brahmins begins with a place Ahichchhatra in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh. During 4th century CE, the Brahmin king Mayurasharma (Or Mayuravarma), the founder of the Kadamba dynasty, brought few Brahmin families from Ahichchhatra to perform the royal rituals - Havana (Havya) and Homa (Gavya). Thus, our ancestors settled in Banavasi, the capital of Kadambas. The inscription near Varadahalli (in present day Sagar Taluk of Shivamogga district, Karnataka) proves this act of King Mayurasharma, inviting and bringing Havyaka Brahmins to Banavasi from Ahichchhatra.

Since the very purpose of these Brahmin families was to perform Havana (Havya) and Homa (Gavya), these Brahmins were aptly named as Havyaga. The word Havyaka was transcended from the word Havyaga. Even the surname or family name were given to us by king Mayurasharma, which were derived from the specific job each family was performing in the royal rituals. Hegade or Hegde is the chief of village and ritualistic activities, head of the Yajna is Dixit, and Bhatta (Bhat) - who actually performs the rituals, and so on. (Avadhani, Bhagvat, Bharadwaj, Hebbar, Joshi, Joisa, Puranik, Sharma, Shastri, and Yaaji are some of the other surnames or family names of havyakas.)

We Havyaka Brahmins, probably the only Brahmins, actually plough the land and cultivate crops. May be it was the influence of the beautiful and enchanting habitat of woods, hills, valleys, and rivers of the Sahyadri (Western Ghats) mountain range surrounding them, our ancestors took a more practical approach and indulged into cultivation apart from their traditional ritualistic activities.

Though our ancestors settled in Banavasi immediately after migration, today Havyakas are spread around the globe occupying various occupations. Only few are embracing the legacy occupation agriculture, and ritualistic activities.

Although Sanskrit was the language of our ancestors, today, we, Havyaka Brahmins speak Havyaka language, a dialect of Kannada, which draws more words from Sanskrit and ancient Kannada, and a few words from Marathi.

logo Leena Hegde

As told by my father,

Appa - Shri Gopalkrishna Hegde

Shri Gopalkrishna Hegde, Puttanamane