2011-05-07 13:40:30 UTC
By Indo Asian News Service | IANS ? Tue, May 3, 2011
Panaji, May 3 (IANS) Where did the ancestors of today's Goans come
from? Which routes did they take to arrive at this tourist paradise? A
new book authored by a Switzerland-based Goan scientist answers these
intriguing questions while searching for the roots of people from
Titled 'The Last Prabhu' and published by Goa,1556, the book is
authored by 65-year-old Bernardo Elvino de Sousa who traces his roots
to the village of Aldona in Goa along coastal western India.
Sousa, who has worked as a scientist for three-and-a-half decades in
the chemical industry, says today it is easy to carry out DNA tests
for haplogroups, which indicate one's ancestral migration routes,
starting as long back as 60,000 years ago.
Common ancestors going back eight or more centuries can also be identified.
Sousa writes: 'Today...my origin can be traced back...to an African,
the common male ancestor of the world's population whose descendants
started migrating from northeast Africa, in the region of the Rift
Valley, perhaps in present-day Ethiopia, Kenya or Tanzania, some
60,000 years ago.'
He also looks at the DNA tests of half-a-dozen other Goans, whose
results are available, and what this could mean.
'The first inhabitants of western India were those of haplogroup C,
the seafaring coastal people who undertook the first migration out of
Africa. With its accessible coastline, Goa would certainly be an
optimal candidate for them to settle,' he was quoted as saying in a
He says whether the Mhars, traditional basket weavers, or the Kharwis
(fishing populations) better fit the description of seafarers and were
therefore the first inhabitants of Goa could be resolved by
determining the haplogroups of these communities.
He traces the entry of the influential Saraswat Brahmins into Goa, and
narrates how DNA testing helped him locate a relative, Errol Pinto,
from the same clan from Aldona village but who had migrated to the
southern coastal city of Mangalore, today in Karnataka, generations
Sousa traces the ancestral names of some families in Aldona village in
Goa, and relies on 17th century 'comunidade' meeting records to find
out pre-conversion names of families now turned Catholic.
'Comunidades' is the term the Portuguese gave to the traditional
'gaunkari' system which ran agriculture on communal lines even before
the 15th century, here as in some other parts of India.
'The Last Prabhu' suggests the religious conversion process might have
also been strategic. Following the advent of Portuguese rule in Goa in
1510, changes in religion, a contentious subject, occurred here in
Sousa writes: 'Some families chose a Solomonic path - half the family
converted and the other half migrated to (what today is) Karnataka or
other more welcoming destinations.'
Other surprises emerge in this book.
'Brahmins all over India belong to quite different haplogroups and
share these haplogroups with other varnas (castes) and in a lesser
frequency with tribal populations,' writes Sousa, who has studied at
St Xavier's College in Mumbai and the University of Fribourg in
'We can unambiguously conclude that there is no genetic basis
whatsoever for the caste system in India and its origins must be
attributed to other historical factors or possibly even just to
happenstance,' he says.
BOOK COVER: http://bit.ly/jtkPdH
ABOUT THE BOOK: http://bit.ly/iyffFD
ORDER ONLINE: http://bit.ly/kxRUBC