The first wave of Brahmins to settle in Goa, were called Saraswats because of their origins from the banks of the Saraswati river, an ancient river that existed in Vedic times. The subsequent drying up of the river caused large scale migration of Brahmins to all corners of India.
A group of ninety-six families, known today as Gaud Saraswats, settled along the Konkan coast around 1000 BC. Of these, sixty-six families took up residence in the southern half in Sashti (today's Salcete taluka) which derives its name from the Sanskrit word "Sassast" meaning the number 66. The other thirty families settled in the northern area in today's Tiswadi taluka which derives its name from the Sanskrit word "Tees" for the number 30.
The Saraswat Brahmins worked in partnership with the local indigenous people, the Kunbi tribals who still exist today. Around the year 740 AD, the Brahmins established their first Matha (religious centre of learning) at Kushasthali (present day Cortalim).
The Aryan Conquest
The oldest archaeological evidence of Goa's ancient history dates back from this period. Excavations have unearthed copper plates, stone inscriptions, coins, manuscripts and temple inscriptions which throw some light on the history of this period. The Girnar rock-edict of the Mauryan King Ashoka mentions the people of Goa as Peitinikas, Rashtrikas and Bhojas.
The history of the mighty Mauryan dynasty finds the next instance of a historical reference to Goa. Between 321 - 184 BC, Goa was under an administrative region by the name Kuntala. However with the death of the legendary Ashoka the Great in 232 BC, the Maurya empire fell into a rapid decline and Goa soon changed hands.
Incidentally, Buddhism is thought to have reached Goa around this period under the Mauryas, as did Jainism as evidenced by the ruins of Jain temples which have been discovered at Kudnem.
The Marathas from the neighbouring areas took control of Goa from the Mauryas, only to be shortly ousted by the strong Anand Chuttus who ruled for a short while themselves.
Then came the rule of the Satavahanas, who already controlled a large area on the western coast of India. They administered the Konkan areas directly and appointed the Bhojas, related to them matrimonially, as their feudatories in Goa. Goa flourished during the Satavahana period, becoming an international business trading centre having relations with Africa, the Middle East and even the Roman Empire.
An important book entitled Geography, from the era of Roman Emperor Augustus (27 BC - 14 AD), written by Strabo the Greek geographer, makes a reference to Konkan with the name of Komkvi describing it as a unique province of India.