Origin of Gotras
A Gotra is the lineage
The term gotra, itself, according to strict Hindu tradition is used only for the lineages of Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vysya families. A Gotra relates directly to the original seven or eight Rishis of the Vedas.
Recently, the term “gotra” has taken broader meanings to include any lineage, Brahmin or otherwise. Therefore, today, other terms are considered synonymous with gotra and the distinct meaning of the word and the esoteric connotations are lost to many, even within the Brahmin community.
A common mistake is to consider gotra to be synonymous with cult 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 cult). Kula has nothing to do with lineage or caste. In fact, it is possible to change one’s Kula, based on his faith or ista devatha.
It is common practice in Hindu marriage to enquire about the Kula-Gotra meaning Cult-Clan of the bride and bridegroom before approving the marriage. In almost all Hindu families, marriages within the same gotra are prohibited. But marriage within the kula is allowed and even preferred.
The word “Gotra” means “lineage” in the Sanskritgotra, as given names may reflect the traditional occupation, place of residence or other important family characteristic rather than gotra. language. While it is somewhat akin to a family name, the given name of a family is often different from its gotra, as given names may reflect the traditional occupation, place of residence or other important family characteristic rather than gotra.
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.
Over the years, the number of gotras increased due to:
- Descendants of original rishi also started new family lineage or new gotras,
- By inter marriage with other sub-groups of the same caste, and
- Inspired by another rishi whose name they bear as their own gotra.
List of Brahmin Gotras
- Atreya/ Atri
- Bhardwaj / Bharadvajasa
- Harita/ Haritasa
- Haritasa/ Haritash
- Hukman Bhal
- Kalabodhana/ Kalaboudha
- Kamakayana Vishwamitra
- Mauna Bhargava
- Mudgala (Maudgalya, Moudgil, Modgil, Mudgal)
- Saharia Joshi