Adhyatmika Ratna, Sri Yaaga Vidya Praveena, Vedanta Visarada, Sahasradhika Yaagakarta
Dr P V Sesha Sai Aswamedhayaaji
Camp LOS ANGELES CA USA
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 http://ritualsandprocedures.blogspot.com 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 http:ritualsandprocedures.blogspot.com 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.
HARA HARA MAHADEVA
DR P V SESHA SAI ASWAMEDHAYAAJI