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 QUESTION & ANSWER on – GOTHRA

 Compiled by Gopalakrishna Ramaiyer, (Retd. AGM, BSNL), Tambaram, Chennai

 

Q-01. Where do we have maximum Brahmins in India?

A-01. Brahmins even in Uttar Pradesh, where they are most numerous, constitute just 9 percent. In Tamil Nadu they form less than 3 percent and in Andhra Pradesh they are less than 2 percent.

Q-02. How many sages are there as profounder of Dharma Sasthras?

A-02. Twenty-one Rishis were the profounder of Dharma Sastras. There is a lot of contradiction among these Darmasastras, even within one Smriti.  These differences in the rules and rituals resulted in the rigid stratification of sub-castes among Brahmins.

None of these smritis is supreme and universally applicable throughout the Indian Sub-continent. The oldest among these Dharma Sutras are Apasthambha, Baudhayana, Gautama and Vasishta Sutras.

Apasthambha:

Apasthambha, a native of Andhra Country, belonged to Krishnayajurveda School. He belonged to fifth century BC. Apasthambha’s teachings are called Apasthambhasutra or Apasthambhasmriti.

Baudhayana: (Bodhayana)

Baudhayana also belonged to Krishnayajurveda School and was an inhabitant of Andhra Country. Baudhayana’s teachings are called Baudhayanasutra or Baudhayanasmriti.

Brihaspati:

Brihaspati was probably the first jurist to make a clear distinction between civil and criminal justice. Yajnavalkya referred to Brihaspati

Gautama:

Gautama was the most ancient sage of all Brahmin lawgivers. He was quoted by Baudhayana and belonged to Samaveda School.  Gautama’s teachings are called Gautamasutra

Harita:

Baudhayana and Vasishta in their Dharmasutras quote Harita.  Haritasmriti or Haritasutra is an extensive work.

Katyayana:

Yajnavalkya mentions Katyayana. Katyayanasmriti is quoted in several works of Viswarupa, Mitramisra etc.

Smriti Chandrika cites 600 verses of Katyayana sutras. He may belong to the same period as Narada and Brihaspati.

Manu:

Manu is a mythical personality and is the ancestor of the entire humankind.  Manu received the code from Brahma, and communicated it to ten sages and requested Bhrigu Rishi to repeat it to the other nine.  This code of conduct recited by Bhrigu is called Manusmriti

Narada:

Sage Narada was probably a native of Nepal around first century AD.  

Naradasmriti is the first legal code unhampered by the mass of religious and moral teachings. Some authors think that Narada belonged to Gupta period when there was a distinct revival of Brahminism and Sanskrit literature.

Vasishta:

Vasishta belonged to 3rd century BC and a native of North India. Vasishta’s teachings are called Vasishtasutra or Vasishtasmriti.

Vishnu:

Vishnu belonged to 1st or 2nd century AD. Vishnu’s teachings are called Vishnusutra or Vishnusmriti.

Yajnavalkya:

Yajnavalkya belonged to Suklayajurveda School12.  He was a native of Mithila City in North Bihar and probably lived anywhere from few centuries before Christ to 200 AD.

However, some scholars think he belonged to first or second century AD.  Yajnavalkya Dharmasmriti has been subject of numerous commentaries.

The most celebrated of all the commentaries of Yajnavlkyasmriti is Mitakshara and is practically the beginning of the Brahmin law and the so-called Hindu law. 

Passages from Mitakshara have been found practically in every part of the Indian Continent and became an authority.  The Yajnavlkyasmriti is concise, more systematic and better arranged than the Manusmriti.

Q-03. What is the origin of Gothras?

A-03. According to one legend (according to Sherring), all the chief Brahmin gotras are descended from the Saptarishis (seven sages).

Sherring says the Vatsa, Bida, Arshtikhena, Yaska, Mitryu, Shaunak and Bainya gotras claim descent from sage Bhrigu (Vatsa-Brighu?) he gotras of Gautam, Bharadwaj and Kewal-Angiras from sage Angirah the Atre, Badbhutak, Garishtira and Mudhgala from sage Atri; the Kaushika, Lohit, Raukshak, Kamkayana, Aja, Katab, Dhananjya, Agamarkhan, Puran and Indrakaushika from sage Viswamitra the Nidruba, Kasyap, Sandila, Rebha and Langakshi from sage Kasyap; the Vashisht, Kundin, Upamanyu, Parashara and Jatukaraniya from sage Vashisht; nd the Idhamabahar, Somabahar, Sambhabahar and Yagyabhar from sage Agastya.

Other Gotras are said to have been derived from these gotras.

Q-04. Can you please give a chart of gothras and the sage from whom they are derived? 

#

Sage

Gothras desended

1

Bhrigu

 

Vatsa, Bida, Arshtikhena, Yaska, Mitryu, Shaunak and Bainya

2

Angirah

 

Gautam, Bharadwaj and Kewal-Angiras

3

Atri;

Atre, Badbhutak, Garishtira and Mudhgala

4

Viswamitra

Kaushika, Lohit, Raukshak, Kamkayana, Aja, Katab, Dhananjya, Agamarkhan, Puran and Indrakaushika

5

Kasyap;

Nidruba, Kasyap, Sandila, Rebha and Langakshi

6

Vashisht

Vashisht, Kundin, Upamanyu, Parashara and Jatukaraniya

7

Agastya.

 

Idhamabahar, Somabahar, Sambhabahar and Yagyabhar

Q-05 Mostly which Vedas are followed by different Gothras?

A-05. Though, anyone among the group can follow their convenient Veda, each sect or branch can even change over to other Veda of their liking, I give below a few actual belongings; however, it might vary on present generations; Bhargaus, Sankritas, Gargs (Chandras), Bhrigus and Saunaks follow the Rig; The Kasyaps, Kaasyaps, Vatsas, Sandilas and Dhananjays follow the Sama. The Bharadwajs, Bhaaradwajs, Angirahs, Gautams and Upamanyus observe the Yajur ; the Kaushikas, Gritakaushikas, Mudhgalas, Galawas and Vashishts follow the Atharva. All others follow the Yajur Veda.

Q-06. Where does the north and south geographical division of Brahmins starts?

A-06. The Brahmin sub-castes are broadly categorized into two great geographical divisions-the north and the south. The dividing line is the Narmada River. (My note - recollect, manthra narmada sindhu kaveri godavari namosthuthae during Upakarma ceremony).

The gaur (white) subcastes, according to Sherring, inhabit the region north of the Narmada and the draviDa subcastes, the south.

Q-07. Who are Hosyalas?

A-07. The Hoysala Karnatakas are Smarta Brahmins living in the State of Karnataka in the Indian Union. Many eminent scholars, musicians, philosophers, generals and religious pontiffs belong to this community. (Read more here)

Q-08. What is the legend behind Brahmin migration to south?

A.08. The Brahmin migration to the South features in the legends of sage Agastya.  The Vindhya mountain range in central India continued to grow higher showing its might and obstructed cloud movement causing draught. Sage Agastya decided to solve the problem and traveled south. The Vindhya mountain bowed to Agastya and the sage requested Vindhya to stay prostrated until he returns. Vindhya complied with this request and the Sage Agastyhya never returned to north!

Q-09. Is it correct that earliest Brahmin migration to south was to Andhra? What was the period?

A-09. The earliest Brahmins to arrive in Andhra were most probably sage Viswamitra's students and progeny around 1200 BC.

South Indian kings showed respect and patronage for Brahmins and Brahminism since ancient times, e.g., Satavahana dynasty that ruled for five centuries and extended over Andhra and central India, One of the most important features of Satavahana dynasty was granting land to Brahmins. Sangam era of Chera, Chola and Pandya kings in Deep South also used to grant lands to Brahmins. Most of the Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh belong to smaarta Brahmin group, i.e., the followers of smritis and followers of Adi Sankaracharya.

The smaarta Brahmins follow Apastambasmriti or Apastambasutra (not Manusmriti).

Apasthamba (~600 BC) was one of the earliest lawmakers of south India who lived on the banks of River Godavari.

Boudhayana, Parasara, Yajnvalkya sutras and other laws were also important in the past, e.g., in the courts of Srikrishnadevaraya.

Q-10. What are the details of Brahmins of Andhra today?

A-10. Pradhamasakha Niyogi Brahmins (see below) follow Yajnavalkya sutras and Kanva sutras.  

The smaarta Brahmins in Andhra Pradesh can be grouped into two major divisions formed about a thousand to about 700 years ago (most probably during Kakatiya rule), Niyogi and Vaidiki. 

However, in addition to smaarta Brahmins, there are other Brahmin groups such as Sri Vaishnavas, Madhavas and Aradhyas.

Niyogi Brahmins : Niyogi Brahmins are those Brahmins who took up various secular vocations including military activities and gave up religious vocation, especially the priesthood. Niyogi Brahmins depend and emphasize on modern education.  They were ministers in the courts of kings and feudatories. Many of them were village accountants/clerks, karanams (Andhra) or patwaris (Telangana), until recently. The Niyogis are considered to be eligible for priestly service.  But they will never either accept a religious gift or partake of Sraaddha food (food given to Brahmins duiring the death related rituals).

According to Jogendranath Bhattacharya, Niyogi name is derived from Yoga, which means religious contemplation or meditation, as opposed to Yaga, which means religious sacrifice. Niyogin in Sanskrit also means "employed" or "appointed" and accordingly, it is probable that they are so-called because they accept secular employment. Niyogi Brahmins include eminent personalities like Veeresalingam Kandukuri, Radhakrishnan Sarvepalli, Venkatgiri Varahagiri, KL Rao, Prakasam Tanguturi, Venkatanarasimharao Pamulaparti (PV), General K. V. Krishnarao etc. As the times have changed, even Vaidika Brahmins should earn money to protect the Dharma, despite the traditional ban on earning money. That was one of the main reasons for the existence of Niyogi Brahmins. There are many subcastes in Vaidiki Brahmins as well:

Among the Vaishnavities, the strict vegetarians and highly educated people also are given the approximate status of brahmins in Andhra Pradesh. They adhere to either the medieval Tenkalai or Vadakalai and Agaama scriptures These Vaishnavite Brahmins are spread mainly in Karnataka and Andhra, and to some extent in Tamilnadu also . 

The great Vaishnavite reformers like Ramanujacharya, Ramananda (north India), Madhva (all over south India), Vallabhacharya (found among velanadu, gujarat, rajasthan and UP), Nimbaarka, etc.    Not all the followers of these Vaishnavite reformers are Brahmins.  Some of these Vaishnavites include Acharis and velanadu vaideekulu. These Vaishnavas are also known as Andhra Vaishnava. Many of the famous temple establishments like Tirupati and Ahobilam are run per vaishnavite agamic canons.

Q-11. What are the praised activities of Ramanujacharya?

A-11. The big hearted Raamanuja fought against caste distinctions and gathered under his doctrine, people from all walks of life and caste and religion and occupation and said henceforth they shall be known as one community. Thus he created the Vaishnava community, and told them to always work for reform of society.

The great Raamanuja specifically included among his followers sc's, tribals, immigrant foreign soldiers, arabs and turks, destitutes women, jains, etc. All the same it appears they made sure that the brightest were selected as Sri Vaishnavites, evangelizers of vaishnavism, without any regard to their former caste or other origins One characteristic method used by the gurus was community dinners, where everybody sat together without distinction. This went a long way towards reduction of old discriminations.

As a consequence there are expert cooks who easily handle very large scale cooking among them.

Q-12. Do Jains have joined Vaishanvisam?

A-12. It seems many jains also merged with vaishnavites, just like in an earlier era buddhists shifted to various sects of saivism The vaishnavite communities in Andhra Pradesh have a marked bent towards education, literature and performing arts like music and dance.

Q-13. What is the period of Madwacharya?

A-13. The Madhvaas date from the recent reform activities of Madhvacharya (somewhere in the 12th century) also of the vaishnava sampradaya , and they were prominent in the last days of Vijayanagar (1500's). A famous guru of the line was Raghavendraswami. (They are found all over karnataka, south Maharashtra, Tamilnadu as well as Andhra.

Q-14. Who were the earliest group of Brahmins came to Tamilnadu?

A-14. The earliest group of Brahmins to come to Tamil Nadu is largely known as Gurukuls. They have been here from very ancient times and were primarily invited to be temple priests in the early Chola period. Many of them were great Vedic scholars. They conducted the coronation of the kings and acted as their spiritual advisors and Gurus. Many of them were the great exponents of Vedic Astrology and Ayurvedic Medicine. They are supposed to be followers of Baudhyana sutra and are divided as 'Kanchipuram', 'Tiruvalangadu' and 'Thirukazhakundram' Gurukuls. It is interesting that all the three are the names of ancient towns and temples around Kanchipuram. This clearly indicates that the earliest migration was to Kanchipuram. 

Q-15. Who are Kashmri Brahmins? Are they branhched from Saraswath Brahmins?

A-15. According to accepted traditions in the rest of the country, Kashmiri Brahmins are believed to be a branch of the Saraswat Brahmins who were so called because they were  believed to have settled along the course of an ancient river in the North-West Indian Continet (Indo-Pak region) called Saraswati. When this river dried up, these Brahmins migrated. A large section of this uprooted community was settled in the Western Konkan coast of the present state of Maharashtra. Others moved further North into the Valley of Kashmir. The first Prime Minister of the Indian Union, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, belongs to the Pandit community of kasmiri Brahmins.  The Nehru dynasty ruled the Union for almost half a century. 

Q-16. Who are Tuluva Brahmins?

A-16. The ancient Tulu nadu extended from Gokarna in the north, all along coastal Karnataka up to Kasargod in the south. This included both coastal Uttara Kannada district as well as all of Dakshina Kannada district. Over many centuries the principal language of Tulu nadu was Tulu. Today Tulu is spoken only south of River Kalyanpur in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka. This is the heartland of Tulu nadu today. While Udupi is the religious center of Tulu nadu, Mangalore is the commercial hub.

Q-17. Other than Viswamithra can you say a few non Brahmin sages?

A-17. In the past, however, through rigorous courses and tests some non-Brahmins became Rishis, e.g., Kings like Viswamitra, Vishnuvardhana, Radheerga, Veerahavya etc. became Rishis and established their own Vedik schools and new Brahmin branches.

Q-18. What is the relation with Sanskrit for Brahmins?

A-18. The Sanskrit is an ancient language that became irrelvant to Indians in general, and Brahmins in particular.  It is the language of Brahmins.  However, whenever, Brahmins migrated to lands, they adopted to the local language and customs and adopted local Gods, yet maintained their Sanskrit language, the Vedas, traditions and culture.

Q-19. What was the reason Yanjalwakia came out from vaisampayana ?

A-19. Once upon a time, an assembly of Brahmins was arranged in presence of Lord Brahma. All the Brahmin teachers and professors were invited. It was declared that who ever among the invited fails to attend the Brahmin assembly would be considered to have committed the sin of murder of a Brahmin (Brahmahatya). 

For some unavoidable circumstances, Professor Vaisampayana could not attend this meeting and acquired the sin of Brahmahatya. He assembled all his disciples and requested them to share the burden of the sin of murder.

One of his disciples was Yajnavalkya. He was a great intellectual and was very powerful due to his knowledge. He came forward and suggested that he would take all the sin and manage it with his powers and requested Vaisampayana to let go other disciples.

Vaisampayana was enraged at this request. He considered this request as arrogance of Yagnavalkya and completely out of line. Consequently, he ordered Yajnavalkya to give up all the learning that he learned from Vaisampayana and leave his school immediately. Yajnavalkya followed the orders of the professor and discarded all the learning, which immediately evaporated into the solar dimension. And he became poorer in his knowledge and hence in powers and luster. Yajnavalkya went to the Sun God and requested the Sun to teach him Yajurveda.

The Sun God agreed to teach and asked him to follow him in the form a horse during his continuous travel across the skies and learn. Thus Yajnavlakya became a Vajasaneya, one who learned as a horse and a branch formed called Vajasaneya sakha. This Yajurveda learned by Yajnavlkya as a horse from the Sun God is called SuklaYajurveda and the earlier one that was learned from Vaismpayana was Krishna Yajurveda.

Q-20. Do gothra system started during Yajurveda period?

A-20. There is a thinking like that .The gotra system is part of a system of classification or identification of various Brahmin families in ancient times. The gotra classification took form probably sometime during the Yajur Veda period, after the Rig Veda period. It is believed that the gotras (now account to a total of 49) started to consolidate some around 10-8 Century B.C.

The present day gotra classification is created from a core of 8 rishis (The Saptha rishis + Aga Agastya). The Seven rishis are Gautama, Bhardwaja, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Vasistha, Kashyapa and Atri. Seven Rishis (Saptarshi) are recognized as the mind born sons of the creator Brahma. They desired offspring and received it. All present day Brahmin communities are said to be descendants of these 8 Rishis. Over the years the number of gotras incresed due to:

Descendents of these Rishis also started new family lineage or new gotras (Kaundinya was a descendent of Vasihta, Vishwamitra was a descendent of Kaushika and Vatsa was a descendent of Jamadagni).

Inspired by a saint whose name they bear as their own Gotra.

The lines of descent from the major rishis are originally divided into Ganas [sub divisions] and each Gana is further divided into families.

However, subsequently the term gotra is frequently applied to the ganas and to the families within the ganas interchangeably.

Q-21. How do Kula devata principle originated?

A-21. These Rishis belonged to different sects like Shakti, Shavites and Vishnavites and had different deities for worship. Such deities came to be known as the Kuladevatas.

Q-22. What was the purpose of Gothra orgination?

A-22. The gotras of GSBs is believed to be originated from the ten Rishis. Bharadwaj, Kausika, Vatsa, Kaundinya, Kashyapa, Atri, Vashista, Jamadagni, Gautam and Vishwamitra (Kamshi)

The gotra system was instituted for the purposes of identifying one's ancestors and pay respects during various invocations and other rituals to honor their fathers, fore-fathers and so on, up to their respective Rishis.

This was later extended to other aspects of the Brahmin life, such as Marriage and temple worship.

In present days, marriage will not be allowed within the same gotra in order to avoid impure matrimony. This thinking is in tune with the modern day genetic paradigms of hybrid vigor.

Q-23. How many famous gothrams are there?

A-23. There are more than 120 Gothras known amongst the Brahmins. Under the Sapta-Rishi grouping, each Rishi's lineage has its own sub-lineage or grouping with Single, three, five or Seven Rishis, which are referrred to in the Pravaram. You can get the Rishis group, sub-lineage of the Sapthra-Rishis and the Gothra Pravaram from this page.

Q-24. What is the speciality of Angirasa, Kanva  and Bhargava?

A.24. Among the Gothra analysis of Pravaras, one can see the Aankirasa Rishi appears 12 times including multiple versions.

Aankirasa is the Rishi with whom more than half of the Atharva Veda samhitas are associated.  

An analysis of the Rishis associated with the Veda Mantras will give info on the other Rishis associated with the Gothras and their lineage.

Sage Kanva is the foster father of Sakuntala celebrated by Kaalidasa.

Bhargava referes to the lineage of Bhrigu Maharishi, the foster father of Maha Lakshmi worshipped as Bhargavi.

Q-25. What is the gothram of Nathamuni?

A-25. Natha Muni, Aalavandar (Yaamuna Muni) belong to Shatamarshana Gothram.

Q-26. Which sage appears in Ramayan in addition to Vasista and Viswamithra?

A-26. Bharadwaja appears in Raamayanam.

Q-27. Who are the four sons of Brahma?

A-27. Brahma according to Puranas had 4 sons: Atri, Bhrigu,Vasishta and Ankiras.

Q-28. What was the gothra of Sreerama (Sri Ram)?

A-28. Lord Rama was Raghu Vansha. This was because Lord Rama's great-grandfather Raghu became famous.

A Gotra relates directly to the original seven or eight Rishis of the Vedas. In this sense, Lord Rama did not have a Gotra, and in rituals his Gotra would be the Gotra of his Brahmin priest. This practice is still common today as it was in ancient times according to earliest Hindu sources.  

Therefore, Gotra has always been only a Brahmin lineage that descends from seven or eight rishis associated with the Saptarishi or the seven stars of the Great Bear constellation as according to original Hindu Vedic system.

Q-29. Though gothras were for all was it particular to keep the ray by Brahmins?

A-29. Yes. The word "Gotra" means "ray." In Brahmin tradition, it is the duty of the Brahmin to keep his particular ray alive by doing daily rituals  that he may transmit the power of that ray to others for the benefit of mankind.

Q-30. Do Family deity known as  kula deivam or kula devata is related to Gothra?

A-30. NO NO NO. A common mistake is to consider gotra to be synonymous with clan or Kula. A kula is basically a set of people following similar rituals, often worshipping the same God (the Kula-Devata - the God of the clan). Kula has nothing to do with lineage or caste. In fact, it is possible to change one's Kula, based on his faith or Ishta-deva. Note-I had the experience of meeting many gothra Brahmins coming to my Kuladeivam Jadayudayar temple in Kallidaikurichi.

Q-31.  Do sudras see gothra for marriage?

A-31.  Shudras also have gotras, and follow it in marriages. For example a weaver falls under Markandeya gotra. Markandeya was known be a Maharishi and had 60 sons. Marriages are held within Markandeya but never in same family name. So, every weaver falls under one of these gotra. Marriages within the gotra ("swagotra" marriages) are banned under the rule of exogamy in the traditional matrimonial system. People within the gotra are regarded as kin and marrying such a person would be thought of as incest.

Q-32. DO Gothra is partilineal or matrilineal too?

A-32. In some communities, where gotra membership passed from father to children, marriages were allowed between uncle and niece, while such marriages were forbidden in matrilineal communities, like Malayalis and Tuluvas, where gotra membership was passed down from the mother.

Q-33. Do Kanchipuram was one of the oldest cities?

A-33 Yes. Kanchipuram is one of the two most ancient cities of India, the other being Varanasi (Kashi). The linkage between the Varanasi (Kashi) and Kanchi has existed from earliest times and has been facilitating the migration of priests between the North and the South.

Q-34. Do Kanchipuram was the orginal destination for priests from north? 

A-34. It is possible that Kanchipuram, Tiruvangadu and Tirukalikundram were the first destinations for the Gurukuls who arrived. They stayed and worked there till they were redeployed to other interior temples and towns.

Q-35. Where do Brahmin communities flourished and how it was expanded?

A-35. Vedas mention a mighty river called the Sarasvati where Brahmin communities flourished, where the Indus Valley civilization flourished and dispersed when the Saraswati river dried up around 1900 BCE.  Long before, during the Ramayana period Brahmins migrated to Dandakaranya (Dandaka Forest) in the south with Viswamitra, the author of several hymns in Rigveda including Gayatri mantra.

Q-36. Do Rigveda is declared as part of world heritage by UNESCO?

A-36. Yes, UNESCO declared, Rig Veda as part of the World Heritage.

Q-37. What are the daily practices of a Brahmin?

A-37. Daily practices of Brahmins include sandhyavandana (prayers to Gayatri and Sun God), prayer to ishtadaiva or ilavelpu (personal God), yoga, non-violence, vegetarianism etc. Everything in the daily life of a Brahmin is a ritual.  

However, special rituals include marriage, ritual conception and consummation of the wedding, rituals of childbirth, naming ceremony, first feeding ceremony, the child’s first tonsure, upanayana (the sacred-thread ceremony - initiation into vedic learning and ritual), ritual baths, cremation rituals, shraaddha, etc.  All of these rituals are very important for a practicing Brahmin. 

Traditional Brahmin accepts Vedas as apaurusheyam (not man-made), but revealed truths and of eternal validity or relevance and hence the Vedas are considered Srutis that which have been heard and are the paramount source of Brahmin traditions and is believed to be divine.

Q-38. According to Panini  and Bodhayana what is the explanation of gothra?

A-38. In general, gotra denotes all persons who trace descent in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor. Panini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as ' apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram' (IV. 1. 162), which means 'the word gotra denotes the progeny (of a sage) beginning with the son's son. When a person says ' I am Kashypasa-gotra' he means that he traces his descent from the ancient sage Kashyapa by unbroken male descent. According to the Baudhâyanas'rauta-sűtra Vishvâmitra, Jamadagni, Bharadvâja, Gautama, Atri, Vasishtha, Kashyapa and Agastya are 8 sages; the progeny of these eight sages is declared to be gotras.

The offspring (apatya) of these eight are gotras and others than these are called ' gotrâvayava '. The gotras are arranged in groups, e. g. there are according to the Âsvalâyana-srautasűtra four subdivisions of the Vasishtha gana, viz. Upamanyu, Parâshara, Kundina and Vasishtha (other than the first three). Each of these four again has numerous sub-sections, each being called gotra. So the arrangement is first into ganas, then into pakshas, then into individual gotras.

The first has survived in the Bhrigu and Ângirasa gana. According to Baud, the principal eight gotras were divided into pakshas.

Q-39. How pravaras are told? Do different types of pravaras are there?

A-39. The pravara of Upamanyu is Vasishtha, Bharadvasu, Indrapramada; the pravara of the Parâshara gotra is Vasishtha, Shâktya, Pârâsharya; the pravara of the Kundina gotra is Vasishtha, Maitrâvaruna, Kaundinya and the pravara of Vasishthas other than these three is simply Vasishtha.

It is therefore that some define pravara as the group of sages that distinguishes the founder (lit. the starter) of one gotra from another. 

There are two kinds of pravaras, 1) sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara, and 2) putrparampara.

Gotrapravaras can be ekarsheya, dwarsheya, triarsheya, pancharsheya, saptarsheya, and up to 19 rishis .

Kashyapasa gotra has at least two distinct pravaras in Andhra Pradesh: one with three sages (triarsheya pravara) and the other with seven sages (saptarsheya pravara).

Q-40. Some argument is there that in gothra were different sishya pravaras are there marriage is permissible with in the gothra. How far it is correct?

A-40. This pravara may be either sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara or putra parampara.

When it is sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara marriage is not acceptable if half or more than half of the rishis are same in both bride and bridegroom gotras.

If it is putraparampara, marriage is totally unacceptable even if one rishi matches.

Q-41. Do Sutra is a later development after forming Gothras? What are the different types of sutras?

A-41. Yes. Sutra Period: During the sutra period, roughly sometime during 1000 BC to 200 BC, Brahmins became divided into various Sakhas or branches, based on the adoption of different Vedas and different readings and interpretations of Vedas

Sects or schools for different denominations of the same Veda were formed, under the leadership of distinguished teachers among Brahmins.  

The teachings of these distinguished rishis are called sutras. 

Every Veda has its own sutras. The sutras that deal with social, moral and legal precepts are called dharma sutras, whereas those sutras that deal with ceremonials are called Srauta sutras and domestic rituals are called gruhya sutras.   

Sutras are generally written in prose or in mixed prose and verse.  These sutras are based on divine Vedas and are manmade and hence are called Smritis, meaning “recollected or remembered.”

There are several Brahmin law givers such as Angirasa, Apasthambha, Atri, Brihaspati, Boudhayana, Daksha, Gautama, Harita, Katyayana, Likhita, Manu, Parasara, Samvarta, Sankha, Satatapa, Usanasa, Vasishta, Vishnu, Vyasa, Yajnavalkya and Yama.

Q-42   Who was sage Bharadwaja?

A-42. Bharadwaja was one of the great sages (rishis) descendant of rishi Angirasa, whose accomplishments are detailed in the Puranas. Bharadwaja rishi was the father of Dronacharya and the grandfather of Ashwatthama

He was one of the Saptarshis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the present Manvantara; with others being Atri, Vashishtha, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, Kashyapa [1].

Q-43. What is the orgin of Gothra?

A-43. The word "gotra" means "lineage" in the Sanskrit language. Among those of the Brahmin caste, gotras are reckoned patrilineally. Each gotra takes the name of a famous Rishi or sage who was the patrilineal forebearer of that clan. And each Gotra is addressed by the suffix 'sa' or 'asa' as relevant.

The concept of Gotra was the first attempt among Brahmins to classify themselves among different groups. At the beginning, these gentes identified themselves by the names of various rishis (Angirasa, Atri, Gautam, Kashyapa, Bhrigu, Vasishtha, Kutsa, and Bharadvaja; the first seven of these are often enumerated as Saptarishis).

Hence the gotra was applied to the grouping stemming from one of these rishis as his descendants

Many lines of descent from the major rishis were later grouped separately. Accordingly, the major gotras were divided into ganas (subdivisions) and each gana was further divided into groups of families. The term gotra was then frequently started being applied to the ganas and to the sub-ganas.

Every brahmin claims to be a direct patrilinial descendant of one of the founding rishis of a certain gana or sub-gana. It is the gana or sub-gana that is now commonly referred to as gotra.

Over the years, the number of gotras increased due to:Descendants of original rishi also started new family lineage or new gotras and Inspired by another rishi whose name they bear as their own gotra.

Q-44. Do Gothra and Pravara are related to ?

A-44. Surely . Pravara is the number of the most excellent (-cf. reference, Sanskrit-English Dictionary,Monier-Williams) rishis who belonged to that particular gotra to which a person belongs.

Gotra is the name of the founding father. In vedic ritual, the importance of the pravara appears to be in its use by the ritualist for extolling his ancestry and proclaiming, "as a descendant of worthy ancestors, I am a fit and proper person to do the act I am performing."

The sacred thread yajnopavita worn on upanayana has close connection with the concept of pravaras related to brahmin gotra system. While tying the knots of sacred thread, an oath is taken in the name of each one of these three or five of the most excellent rishis belonging to one's gotra.(Is there any such ractise.? Telling mantra-Yanjopaveetham paramam pavithram prajapathae… golden thread, silver thread followed by cotton thread is worn I think I want your enlightenment)

It may be noted some gothras have variations of pravara sages. When the variation is more intermarriage from  the same gothra is permitted provided the pravars are shisya pravaras.

The full affiliation of a brāhamana consists of (1) gotra, (2) pravaras (3) sutra (of Kalpa), (4) shakha.

A brahmana named 'X' introduces himself as follows : I am 'X', of Shrivatsa gotra, of Āpastamba sutra, of Taittiriya shākha of Yajurveda, of five pravaras named Bhārgava, Chyāvana, Āpnavan, Aurva and Jāmdagnya (This example is based upon the example given by Pattābhirām Shastri in the introduction to Vedārtha-Pārijata, cf. ref.).

For the Gothra Pravaram please click here. To know more about our ancient Rishis please click here. To read a brief history note on the Rishis, please click here.

 

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