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SANKARA
By Mohan Shenoy
The word "sankara" in Sanskrit language means joining of two different kinds of people in marriage to produce a third kind of people. This is supposed to have happened after the Kurukshetra war between the Pandavas and Kauravas in India. There could have been shortage of men with the result that a few men married many women.

There were children born to these mixed race couple who had some common features of both the races. In later years there were marriages among these new groups resulting in further merger of the races. New languages and cultures developed among these new people. It is said that Sanskrit was the spoken language during the Vedic period.

But during the days of Mahavira and Buddha the spoken language was Prakrit language, a derivative of Sanskrit. Many languages evolved in later decades which derived their names by referring to the regions where they developed. Hindi was the language spoken in Central India, referred to as India by the international travellers and traders. Later as time passed Hindusthan and India became the common names for Central India.

The language spoken in Hindusthan and India was referred to as Hindi language. Tamil developed in Tamil country, Kannada in Karnataka, Bengali in Bengal and Odiya in Orissa, and so on. For each person his or her language is the basis of his identity.  Every person eventually feels comfortable with his language to speak, read and write, and to make deals with others. A trader would learn the languages of his customers and use the language of the customer to do business.

Every trader finds that the customer is attracted towards the traders who speak and deal in the language of the customer. All the rulers of Indian states in the past have tried to learn the languages of the local people in order to rule them effectively. Mixing of the races of the invaders and the residents continued rapidly during the period between the Kurukshetra war and the present. That is why we see in India faces that are showing colours and features of Chinese, Dravidian, Negroid, European, and Middle East people.

The features that have evolved have developed the identity of an Indian. It is not difficult to pick and identify an Indian in a large crowd in an airport lounge. Sometimes it is not difficult for a person to identify his own kind. A GSB woman can fairly correctly point out another GSB woman in a crowd of different kinds of people in an audience. Yet there are many common features that add to this identity, such as the skull cap of a Muslim, the 'bindi' on the forehead of a Hindu married woman, etc. These added features are becoming rarer and rarer with the result that there is now a trend towards merger of cultures. Each one tries to find a common denominator to claim membership of a community, region, nation and continent.

Our latest craze for photo identity cards is an example. Now it is useful to possess a photo identity card to announce our names, dates of birth and residential address. Our religion could be identified based on the name and surname that appears on the card. There has been an attempt among the people in India to wipe out the surnames that announce the caste.
Many GSB people have stopped using their surnames. Many upper caste people in Tamil country have also stopped using their surnames to make it more convenient to get work done in offices, market places, schools, colleges and other institutions. Our names have also undergone changes during these historic upheavals in the past centuries in India.

One glaring example is the change of name of the Shanbhag group among GSB community. A large number of people opted to write Shenoy in place of Shanbhag in the period between year 1880 to 1910 in the Kanara districts. The opening of schools and admission of children in these schools by the British Government in this period of time was responsible for this change in name.

People preferred the shorter and concise name Shenoy in place of cumbersome Shanbhag, although the name Shanbhag is not really cumbersome. The name Shanbhag however had different spelling in different areas. Some people used to write it as Shanbhogue or Shanubhogue.

My father Adyar Gopalakrishna Shenoy was born to Adyar Manjunath Shanbhag. Gopalakrishna's mother Kamala preferred Shenoy as surname for him when he was admitted to a school in Gurpur village in the year 1912. Since then our family name has been Shenoy rather than Shanbhag as prevalent in the past. Some people spell the name Shenoy with a letter 'i' in the end, 'Shenoi'.

There have been religious conversions among the GSB community during the Portuguese rule in Goa. Many people with Shenvi or Shanbhag surnames have been converted into Christianity but they retained their surnames. Some of them changed their surnames into Shenoy or Shenoi, the latter more common among the Christians.

The Bhanup, or Shenapaiki, or Shenapanche sect stopped using their surnames during these early years of British rule in Kanara districts, and instead they used the name of the place of their birth as their surnames. Karnad is such a surname. Karnad is a village in South Kanara. Gulvady, Hattangady, Manjeshwar are other names of places which have become the surnames of many of the Bhanups or Shenapaiki people among us.

It is necessary for us to merge all these Konkani Brahmans into a common people so that there can be more marriages between members of these communities, facilitating Indianisation, and ultimately globalisation. It will also be inevitable for boys of our community to seek girls from other castes to marry. This is because there are many choices available to the present generation of children in India.

Times have changed. And an educated boy from the GSB community can live happily with an educated girl from any other caste, and vice versa. A new culture will be born from among these intercaste marriages.

Sankara is actually Indianisation leading to globalisation.

Concluded
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