by Vikas Kamat
First Online: October 30, 2003
But first I have a story to tell.
The story requires some background.
In the area of India that my father and I grew up, the Konkani Brahmin community (to which I belong to), and the Havyaka Brahmin community have a fierce social competition -- a very healthy, and natural competition --competing for higher achievements in academics, sports, giving to charity, and in political power. The two castes also have a close symbiotic relationship. Some of my best friends were Havyakas (or Haveeks, as we called them). Privately we made fun of their language -- a very old and traditional precursor of present day Kannada, and their impracticality (most Havyaks were priests, farmers, and teachers, whereas most Konkanis were bankers and businessmen), and I am sure the Havyaks ridiculed us as "fish eating brahmins", and "cunning Konks".
Now the incident.
Many many years ago (1970s), my father wrote an article documenting the Havyaka Brahmin community in a popular periodical, Karmaveera. It was well received, and earned my father many fans and admirers, and as recently as 1999 I have seen requests for its reprint. But some Havyaka leaders thought that father relied too much on hearsay for documenting the traditions, and felt some parts were demeaning to the community. They burnt the copies of the magazine in protest, and called for boycott of father's writings.
Due to the delicate nature of the matter and its potential for communal disharmony, my father did not respond to the protests. When the requests for reprints were received, he denied them. It took other Havyaka scholars like V.G. Bhat, to befriend and support father, before he would write about the Havyaks again.
In some ways, I feel honored on being asked to build a website for the Havyak community --a community with whom I lived, grew up, competed, and among whom I have so many friends.
I also feel a sense of satisfaction on seeing an old wound heal fully.
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