(Last Updated on : 19/05/2018)
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 persons father. Generally, these lineages mean patrilineal descent from the mythical sages or rishis in Brahmin
s, warriors and administrators in Kshatriyas
and ancestors in Vaishyas
Etymology of Gotra
Gotra is the Sanskrit term for a much older system of tribal
clans. The literal meaning of Gotra is cow-pen or cow-shed in archaic Rig Vedic Sanskrit
. The Vedic people for the identification of the lineages initially used the Sanskrit word Gotra.
Concept of Gotra
The concept of Gotra relates directly to the Sapta Rishis
of the Vedas
associated with the seven stars of the Great Bear constellation as according to original Hindu Vedic system. The seven rishis were Gautama
Types of Gotras
As mentioned above, Gotra stands for lineage or clan assigned to a Hindu at birth. Hence, it is believed that people belonging to the same gotra also belong to the same caste in the Hindu social system.
Some of the common lineages are as follows:
Significance of Gotra in Marriage
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
. While marriage within the kula is allowed and even preferred, marriage within the Gotra is not allowed. This is because; marriages within the gotra 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 but in the matrilineal societies this is strictly banned.