Template:Hinduism small In Hindu society, the term gotra (Sanskrit: गोत्र) is commonly considered to be equivalent to clan. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor or patriline.
A Gotra is the lineage or clan assigned to a Hindu at birth. In most cases, the system is patrilineal and the gotra assigned is the gotra of the person's father. Other names used to refer to it are Vansh, Vanshaj, Bedagu, Purvik, Purvajan, Pitru. An individual may decide to identify his lineage by a different gotra, or combination of gotras. For example Lord Rama was Surya Vansh , also known as Raghu Vansh. This was because Lord Rama's great-grandfather Raghu became famous.
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. 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 seven or eight stars of the Great Bear constellation as according to original Hindu Vedic system.
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. When the "ray" is extinguished, so is that particular beneficial magical stream dead to the human race and that power lost to mankind for ever. Hence the importance of a Brahmin's daily Sandhya.
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 one's faith or ista devtha.
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.
Origin of gotra
Gotra is the Sanskrit term for a much older system of tribal clans. The Sanskrit term "Gotra" was initially used by the Vedic people for the identification of the lineages. Generally, these lineages mean patrilineal descent from the sages or rishis in Brahmins, warriors and administrators in Kshatriyas and ancestral trademen in Vaisyas.
The lineage system, either patrilineal or matrilineal, was followed by the South Asian people. In the present day Hinduism, Gotra is applied to all the lineage systems. Many Hindu castes have lineages that do not follow Vedic classification.
Marriages and gotras
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. 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. A much more common characteristic of south Indian Hindu society is permission of marriage between cross-cousins (children of brother and sister). Thus, a man is allowed to marry his mother's brother's daughter or his father's sister's daughter but is not allowed to marry his father's brother's daughter, a parallel cousin, who is treated as a sister.
List of gotras
- Brahmin gotra system
- Thogata Veera Kshatriya Gotra System
- Tuluva Malayali lineage system
- List of Brahmin gotras
- List of Kongu Vellala kootams
- Desh Gujarat
- Marriage Ceremonies
- Less Knowledge about gotras - Agarwal Today Article
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