Friday, August 14, 2009

The Gothra and the Pravara

Adhyatmika Ratna, Sri Yaaga Vidya Praveena, Vedanta Visarada, Sahasradhika Yaagakarta
Dr P V Sesha Sai Aswamedhayaaji
13th August 2009
Phone 518 368 7956

My dear friends and likeminded persons
In the recent past, when I came across people asking me – some Vedic scholars too – what is “Pravara” and most of them knew their Gothra and not their Pravara. It is not a complaint against lack of knowledge of them, but circumstances would not have given opportunity to know what a Gothra is and what a Pravara. It is not that I know much about it, but there are great personalities in the mailing group who can surely enlighten on this subject, but to the extent of my source, I am presenting the topic for the benefit of all. This letter is also being posted to the blog by name for further references.
What is a Gothra? More or less, it is nothing but a blood group, when the modern groups are a few in number, the ancient sages of India arrived at a minutest point and bifurcated the blood group into a number of groups beyond the reach of the so called modern and so called Scientific world. The word "gotra" means "lineage" and this word is of Sanskrit language. Among those of the Brahmins, gotras are reckoned lineally. Each gotra takes the name of a famous Rishi or sage who was the lineal fore bearer of that clan. And each Gotra is addressed by the suffix 'sa' or 'asa' as relevant. The concept of Gothra was the first attempt among Brahmins to classify themselves among different groups. At the beginning, these genetics identified themselves by the names of various Rishis Angirasa, Atri, Gowthama, Kasyapa, Bhrigu, Vasista, and Bhraradwaja - the first seven of these are often enumerated as Saptarishis. It is to be noted that Vishwamitra was initially a Kshatriya king, later chose and rose to become an ascetic Rishi. There is a small confusion about the great sage Agastya also in this regard. Therefore there are nine group origins in the system as seen above. The branches thereafter started percolated down.
Hence the gotra was applied to the grouping stemming from one of these Rishis as descendants. Over the years, the number of gotras increased due to Descendants of original Rishi which also started new family lineage or new gotras.
Pravara is the number of the most excellent 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 ritualistic for extolling his ancestry and proclaiming, in a manner as a descendant of worthy ancestors, one is fit and proper person to do the act that he is performing. The sacred thread called as Upavita or Yagnopavita 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 or seven or nine of the most excellent rishis belonging to one's gotra.
The full affiliation of a Brāhmin consists of Gothra, Pravara, Sutra, and Sakha.
For Example - A Brahmin named: Sastry: introduces himself as follows: I am: Sastry: of Shrivatsa gotra, of Āpastamba sutra, of Taittiriya shākha of Yajurveda, of five pravaras named Bhārgava, Chyāvana, Āpnava, Aurva and Jāmdagnya

While the gotras were classified initially according to nine (?) Rishis, the Pravara was classified under the names of the following seven Rishis namely, Agastya, Angirasa, Atri, Bhrigu, Kashyapa, Vasista, Viswaamitra, According to the listing of authors included in the verses in Vedas, the rishi Jamadagni was a descendant of rishi Bhrigu while the rishis Gautam and Bharadwaja were the descendants of rishi Angirasa.
The pravara identifies the association of a person with three or sometimes five and some times seven and interestingly sometimes nine (as is seen in some places) also of the above-mentioned Rishis.
For example, Kashyapa Gothram has 3 rishis associated with it viz. Kashyapa, Daivala and Aavatsaara
Some of the known Gothras and Pravaras are appended hereunder for the benefit of the readers and this is subject to further modification by the learned scholars in the relevant field. There are, however, innumerable combinations which are not codified at one place due to different reasons, and now I appeal to all the readers to place their comments on this and add the known information in a blog created by me as so that over a period of time, a separate book on this subject may get published for the benefit of future generations, as WE HAVE ALREADY STEPPED INTO AN AREA OF IGNORING ALL THESE RICH TEXTS OF ANCIENT TRADITIONAL SCIENCES OF INDIA. I am also trying to procure information relating to the Gothra in respect of different castes in India and IT IS TO BE NOTICED THAT EACH FAMILY IN INDIA HAS A GOTHRA IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR CASTE.
1. Bharadwaja : Angirasa, Baaryhaspatya,, Bharadwaja
2. Rathitara : Angirasa, Baaryhaspatya, Rathitara
3. Vathula or Vathulasa : Bhargava,Vaitahavya, Saavedasa
4. Srivasta or Srivastasa : Bhargava, Chyaavana, Aapnavaana, Aurva, Jaamadaghneya
5. Salankayana : Viswaamitra, Aghamarshana, Devarata
6. Shatamarshana: Angirasa, Powrukutsa, Traasatasya
7. Atreya: Atreya, Aarchanaasa, Syaavaasva
8. Kowsika: Vishwamitra, Aghamarshana, Kowsika
9. Kalabodhana/Kalabhavasa (3 variations)
1. Kalabodhana: Viswaamitra, Agamarshana, Kalabodhana
2. Kalabodhana: Viswaamitra, Agamarshana, Kalabodhana
3. Kalabhavasa: Viswaamitra, Agamarshana, Kalabhavasa
10. Viswaamitra: Viswaamitra, Devarata, Owtala
11. Kaundinya: Vaasishta, Maitraavaruna, Kaundinya
12. Haritasa: Angirasa, Ambarisha, Yuvanasva, Haritasa
13. Gautamasa : Angirasa, Aayasya, Ausidyasa, Kaakshivata, Vamadeva, Grihadugda, Gautamasa – seven rishis
14. Mowdgalya (3 Variations)
1. Angirasa, Bharmyasva, Mowdgalya
2. Tarkshya, Bharmyasva, Mowdgalya
3. Angirasa, Dhavya, Mowdgalya
15. Sandilya (3 Variations)
1. Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Daivala
2. Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Sandilya
3. Kasyapa, Daivala, Asitha
16. Naitruvakaasyapa: Kasyapa, Aavatsara, Naitruva
17. Kutsa: Angirasa, Maandhatra, Kowtsa
18. Kanva (2 Variations)
1. Angirasa, Ajameeda, Kanva
2. Angirasa, Kowra, Kanva
19. Paraasara: Vaasishta, Saaktya, Paraasara
20. Aagastya: Aagastya, Tardhachyuta, Sowmavaha
21. Gargi (2 Variations)
1. Angirasa, Barhaspatya, Bharadwaja, upadhyay
2. Angirasa, Sainya, Gaargya
22. Badarayana: Angirasa, Paarshadaswa, Raatitara
23. Kasyapa (3 Variations)
1. Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Daivala
2. Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Naidruva (Naitruva)
3. Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Naidruva (Naitruva), Rebha, Raibha , Sandila, Saandilya
24. Sunkriti (2 Variations) or Saankritya Gothra
1. Angirasa, Kowravidha, Saankritya
2. Sadhya ,Kowravidha, Saankritya
25. Angirasa, Pourukutsya, Thraasadasya
26. Goutam/Gowtamasa Aangeerasa, Ayasya, Gowtamasa
27. AgniVaiwaswatha: Angirasa, Barhaspthya, Bharadwaja, Srukva, Agnivaiwaswatha
28. Sankhyayana: Vishwamitra, Aghamarshana, Devaratha
29. Vishwamitra, Shraumita, Kaamakayana, Devatarasa, Devaraata,
30. Kapi: Angirsa, Amahaiya, Orukshaya,
This may not be just taken only Brahmin sect, the Vysya or the Agarwal community is still more perfection as they take a bride out of their gothra as well out of the maternal side gothra too.

Perhaps this may be the reason; the Agarwal community is still maintaining their tradition almost nearer to perfection.

The Kshatriya too, more particular of observing Gothra while one among the four caste system in the name of Sudra also rely upon the same system of observing Gothra or identifying themselves to a particular Gothra. Unfortunately the “Sudra” is mistaken as an inferior set of human beings in the society, but they are not so, surely they are the backbone of the entire society. A king should have soldiers, a Brahmin should have students, a Vysya should have demand for their trade and therefore all sects like the so called Brahmin, Kshtriya, Vysya and Sudra are all inter dependant and can never be isolated.

The caste system was solely on their individual professions and there is no superiority or inferiority amongst each of them and this is the basic fact. Unfortunately this concept is misconceived and misinterpreted for the mean individual reasons of a few select individuals which have caused damage to the entire system and to speak further to HINDUISM itself.

Well, the topic is not a point of discussion for this paper, but the learned scholars, who are receiving this mail, may contribute still better on the Gothra system and they can upload their individual comments to the aforementioned blog so that the viewers of future years will have all types of information on this subject.

Thanking you all for your patient reading.
I shall be back again soon.
Yours affly


  1. Sir,
    can two distant families of same gothram can be desendents of two different rishis? if so how to know which rishi our family is from?

  2. Namaste. When I wanted to teach my neighbourhood kids about our rich cultural heritage and about the proud lineage they all belong to, this website came handy and very helpful with lot of details. Knowing our own family will help us to keep us up with good work from our side too. Have you got further information on this gothram? Also if we can know more about the Rishis and their contributions, it will definitely make the kids of the present/future generation to be proud of and to keep it as a model for them. Do you have further information on this topic and the sages?
    Thanks, Gayathri

    1. You can get this exact info with traditional Veda pandithas or purana vaktas

  3. Surely, I am happy to see your comments on this. The Pravara - to the best of my knowledge, is the branch of the Rishis from the Main Rishi. You can see a number of branches which are originated from one Rishi. Therefore, we take the branch into consideration though the root is one and the same, but as per our custom, we look for different gothras (relating to the main branch) and consider them as different blood groups. Perhaps this is the system followed by ancient sages of Indian Origin to identify a blood group through a branch of Rishis. Different blood group is normally selected at the time of marriage, with a view that the next generation comes out mixed and fortified qualities of richness.

    Secondly I am also working on the subject of different rishis contributing different research documents like - The great Charaka Rishi on Ayurveda; Shri Ganaka Rishi on Ganapathi Atharva Upanishad etc. The great scholars - in the shape of Rishis of Ancient India contributed their best to all of us for our peaceful co-existence much ----much ---surely beyond- --caste, creed or religion. They were the real Purohits - Well wishers of the Society, as much as Alexandar Grahambell inventing Telephone etc. In my opinion, who ever does in a constructive manner to help the society and fellow human being is a RISHI - GREAT SAGE. In the absence of these contributions in ancient India, today, we might be in a real bad or worst shape suffering from different ailments, disorders etc. Ex: Bhagatgita is an excellent tonic for a psychologically imbalanced person.
    Let us try to understand the richness of these great people of India. They never favored communal disturbances; they never created any disparity amongst people; they only helped the society in a constructive manner. LET US ALL FEE PROUD OF BEING BORN IN INDIA - THE GREAT LAND. LET US ALSO FEEL THAT WE HAVE PATIENCE AND CONTINUE TO HAVE RELIGIOUSLY RELIGIOUS PATIENCE.

  4. congratulations on a very informative write up!

    i understand that the kshatriyas use the name of their 'Vamsha' and not gotra to identify themselves. they use the lineage of kings' names and not the names of rishis, i think. kindly clarify.

    i did not understand what exactly is the 'sootra' (i have heard of aapastambha sootra, ashwalaayana sootra etc but need more info on that).

    thank you.

  5. Dear Sir,

    Can i know the pravara for Marichi Gotra

  6. FAntastic contents, after 24yrs of my upanayanam, i got hte exact meanng of prawara. thanks for detailed explanation and i could correlate my prawara with the listing that you have provided

  7. There is actually three Main Rishi, Gotra GaNA & Pgotra PravrA. The gotra it self comes from Go + Tra. The tra is defined by TrAyate that is protecting. The Go has many implication like Cow, Earth and ray of light. In Gotra it is ray of light, this is the ray of light of knowledge that a particular Rishi has given Thus any person with a particular Gotra is supposed to preserving that part of the VedA they have inherited as lineage.

  8. Please let me know if any one can tell me about sutra... I just want to know sutra for haritasa gothra

  9. Please let me know if any one can tell me about sutra... I just want to know sutra for haritasa gothra

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Hello Aswamedhayaaji.
    I belong to bhrigu maharshi gotra, ashwalayana sutra, rig shakha.. But I dont know my pravara. Can you please help me?

  12. Hello Aswamedhayaaji.
    I belong to bhrigu maharshi gotra, ashwalayana sutra, rig shakha.. But I dont know my pravara. Can you please help me?

  13. Hello Aswamedhayaaji.
    I belong to bhrigu maharshi gotra, ashwalayana sutra, rig shakha.. But I dont know my pravara. Can you please help me?

  14. Very nice article. I was looking for Agstya Gotra Pravara ..i found it. This blog surely helps understanding our roots specially for the younger lot.....

  15. For easy understanding ex- vasista mitravaruna koundinya trayarsheya pravaranvutha, koundinya sagothra ydhbhavasya, apasthambha sutrahha, yajusskhadhyayi seshacharya sarman ahumbho abhivadaya- this is the traditional vandan in all occations. You replace with your respextive in the the relevant places.a pravara is your lineage. It can be of eka arsheya o e rishi only, trayee arsheya ,puncha sapta and in some cases more. Sutra are the treatise or rules and regulations that cover the group from birth to death touching all aspects of Life both material and spiritual. They accommodate local traditions so far they don't defeat the real purpose. Now yajushkhadhayee means it the adhyayana of yajurveda flowed from vasista through mythravaruna to koundinya and from there who belonged or identified with kou dinya rishi coundinya rishi himaself studying ,upholding practice ing, propagating yajurveda.his name is or Rather introducing himself with his birth as well as nakshtra and vyavaharika nama ie., name seshachary this last suffix sarman denotes his caste as sa sarma means brahmin ie., sasthra artha Mary. This is simplest explanation. All the relevant details are available with your kula purohith. If you have no one pl ask any a last resort as a brahmin who does death rituals ie., aparakarma. Because while performing they should say these details. OK. Now sagothri need not be be blood related.but spiritual study and practice goes deep as believed as they become vasana or jeeva samskara, all WHO come under that will become.same family brothers and sisters. Who are treated as children of the same rishi.this helped avoiding intra polation of of both DNA and knowledge over since kritha yuga before Rama's birth if you believe. And kept tradition alieve. As JTS accepted in local tradions in some areas from both paternal and maternal side when they fall in acceptable equation and not in wrong relation where DNA is ver6 far as per modern science.bow think cool logically applying both bio genetics, knowledge spreading, spiritual and social context. There are enough stories in our puranas. Start with what will happen if near animals procreate. Will they get healthy offsprings. Question when same. Gothrees marry.and their knowledge will be redundant. Suppose if guru and his children and his students will never consider themselves with self control as brothers and sisters for health relation and study?we are seeing in our schools and colleges what's happening.

  16. There is info on brahmins gothras and pravaras and arshyas pl che k. Books are published in Telugu Tamil Hindi are available