Sources of Goa's history

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

Before we attempt to describe the sources of  the history of Goa, we might divide it for our study into three periods:

1. The pre-historic period beginning from earliest times to a time when various dynasties held their sway over Goa till it came under Northern Silahars about 1086 AD. This could be called the Ancient History of Goa. This period comprises a number of events, the succession of which in order of time cannot be safely determined.

2. The second period would begin with the Kadambas, when the history of Goa becomes more and more defined up to the time of the Vijaynagar and Muslim rulers. At this period the dates of events are more or less correct.

3. The third period of the history of Goa will begin with the history of the Portuguese from their arrival at Indian and Goan shores down to the time of Goa’s liberation in December 1961.

Types of Sources


The sources of the history of Goa may be grouped into four types:

1. Literary

2. Archaeology (inscriptions, numismatics and monuments)

3. Foreign Accounts

4. Works of contemporary authors and chroniclers.

Literary Sources

The main literary sources of ancient history of Goa are:

  1. Gada Parva – a section of Mahabharata that dwells on the origin of Saraswats.
  2. Sahyadri Skhanda of Skhanda Puranna – that refers to the immigration of Gaud-Saraswats into the Konkan, which according to Dr Bahu Dagi, an eminent Orientalist, took place some seven to eight centuries ago while the book is supposed to have been written only three centuries ago. Regarding Skhanda Puranna, this is what V Smith(1) has to say: “Independent proof of the existence of Skhanda Puranna at the same period is afforded by a Bengal manuscript of that work written in Gupta hand to which as early a date as the middle of 7th century can be assigned on palaeographical grounds”.
  3. Manguesh Mahatmaya - deals with the immigration of the second wave of Saraswats from Kanauj into Goa.
  4. Konkhana – Khyana – historical poem in Marathi written in 1721, which narrates the establishment of the second colony of Gaud-Saraswats in Cortalim and Quelossim.


Archaeological Sources

These refer to inscriptions – that is to say, whatever in past ages is found incised on stones, metals, coins, copper plates and monuments. They help to find out names of ruling monarchs, occurrence of public events and the transaction of public and private affairs. Each inscription does not tell us much but when compared with one another, they give us valuable information. In addition, the value of coins and monuments comes from the fact that the memory of the past is preserved in them far better than in books, which deteriorate or get destroyed either by natural causes or by fire and water if they are not copied out on time.

Foreign Accounts and Contemporary Writers

There is a plethora of them especially with regards to the Middle and Modern Ages of the history of Goa.


(1) SMITH, V; Early History of India, p.23

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