On 19 December 1961, the region of Goa was freed from the clutches of Portuguese rule and in 1987, it received the status of Bharat’s 25th state. Until it got its statehood, Goa was incorporated in the Union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu.
Goa, being one of the states that lies in the western coastal region of Bharat, touching the Arabian Sea, has centuries old legacy beginning from the prehistoric era to gaining independence, marked by the termination of the foreign rule. Nevertheless, it’s beyond any doubt that whenever one talks about Goa, the only thing that strikes our mind is its foreign culture, tradition and legacy, because it was for a long time that Goa remained under the control of Portuguese rule. But, does anyone even know that Goa has its own historical saga? Perhaps yes or perhaps no. So in this article, I would like to throw some proper light on the historical legacy of ancient Goa, that had always remained in the dark realm.
In this section, we will be talking about the “ancient names of Goa”, that were mentioned in some of the ancient texts as well as in the epigraphic sources. Let us discuss them chronologically one by one.
1. Goparashtra: We all know, the great epic Mahabharata has remained a very staunch source for locating all the sites and places mentioned in it, in modern sense. Similarly, it also mentions the ancient name of Goa as ‘Goparashtra’, which literally means ‘the land of Gopas or cowherds’.
So, in Chapter 9 of the Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata, the term ‘Goparashtra’ was mentioned. There’s one legend which attests that on arriving on the West Coast of Bharat, Bhagwan Parshuram threw an arrow into the sea and the sea waters swept away, paving the way for rise of a beautiful and fertile piece of land,which was called the Goparashtra. Inscriptions of Chalukya age mention the grant of Balegram village in Goparashtra to worship Lord Kapaleshvara (Belegram village is now in the Nashik District of Maharashtra). The Chalukyan charters, especially the Nirpan copper plates, refer to the Goparashtra vishaya, which included the area of Balegram (present day Balegaon).
2. Gomantak: a Puranic documentation named the Sahayadri Khand calls Goa as Gomantak. This Khand was written in the 4th century CE and till 13th century CE, additions were incorporated.
3. Gomant: Brihatsamhita written by sage Varaha Mihir in 6th Century CE, refers to Goa as Gomant.
4. Gopakapattana: a stone inscription of the Kadamb ruler of Goa named Vishnuchitt mentions a port named Gopakapattana, which is currently identified with present day Goa Velha. Gopakapattana was an important port under the rule of the Kadambs and later on, their capital was shifted to this place only. In the epigraphic evidence of the Kadamb rulers, it was found that Gopakapattana, Gove and Gopapura – all of them referred to the modern day Goa only.
5. Gopak: one of the earliest records of the Kadamb ruler Virvarmdev names Goa as Gopak. This record is dated to 1049 CE.
6. Gopakdwip: copper plates of the Kadamb ruler Jayakeshi-I have thrown light on the term Gopakdwip, which means the ‘Island of Goa’.
One crucial conclusion that can be fetched from the pattern of nomenclature of the ancient Goa is that every time each ruler designated the prefix ‘Go’, it meant that the region was in abundance of cows and cowherds. Because in the Vedic period, the term ‘Go’ was indeed related to the Cows and perhaps this trend was too followed by the rulers ruling in this kingdom.
Talking about the later history of Goa, it can be pinpointed that in the early 14th century CE, the region of then Goa found itself in the political downturn, wherein constant attacks by the forces of Alauddin Khilji and Muhammad bin Tughlaq were done here. After that, the Vijayanagar Empire took control over Goa but in 1472 CE, Goa was lost to the Bahamani Empire. However , Goa came under the ruling area of Adil Shah of Bijapur with the weakening roots of the Bahamani dynasty. Alas in the 1510 CE, the Portuguese took over Goa, hence.
- Journal article- Nakhudas and Nauvittakas: Ship-Owning Merchants in the West Coast of India (C. AD 1000-1500) by Ranabir Chakravarti
- Journal article- CANDRAPURA/SINDABUR AND GOPAKAPATTANA: TWO PORTS ON THE WEST COAST OF INDIA (AD1000-1300) byRanabir Chakravarti
- Journal article- The Three Dimensions by Manoharrai Sardesai
- Journal article- GEOGRAPHY OF RURAL SETTLEMENTS IN THE WESTERN GODAVARI REGION: C. A.D. 300 TO C. AD 1000 by Shyam Narayan Lal
-by Debyani Mukherjee
Featured image source- nativeplanet.com