Gotra and Pravara (गोत्रप्रवरश्च)

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Gotra (Samskrit: गोत्रः) is of supreme importance in several fundamental matters and practices associated with Sanatana Dharma. Gotra of a family is said to be named after the rshi-ancestor who founded the family in the immemorial past. Such families grew with their tradition over many many generations of their children, grandchildren and students. Gotra came to denote the 'family' or the 'clan'. Pravara rshis are belong to the same clan. One of the most important rule laid down in the Grhyasutras and Dharmashastras regarding marriage is that no man shall marry a maiden from within his own gotra.

Pravara (प्रवरः) is another term closely connected with the gotra. Pravara literally means 'invocation' or 'recitation' of the names of famous rishi ancestors during important occasions. While gotra indicates the lineage or ancestry of a person, pravara denotes the important rishis in that ancestry.[1]

As a part of nitya sandhyavandana, a person has to repeat the names of his ancestral rshis (three times a day) to show his lineage and thus Pravara recitation is often required. Whenever a person visits Peetha Adhipatis, when he has to perform a yajna, prayers to invoke deities, homas and such sacred activities, he has to recite the pravara.

परिचयः॥ Introduction

Gotra, another unique aspect of Sanatana Dharma, is a fundamental matter to the Indian Society. It has an important role in determining relationships socially. In the Brahmana literature there are several indications that priestly families formed into several groups named after their founding rishis and such families differed in details of worship according to the group they belonged to.[2]

Gotra was discussed extensively in the context of marriage rules. Every varna was further divided into a number of exogamous groups. Such groups may be formed by members of the same clan having common gotra and pravara. Marriage between the members belonging to the same exogamous group was prohibited. Gobhila, Apastamba, Hiranyakesin, and Jaimini lay down that a man should not marry a girl belonging to his own Gotra. Gautama, Vasishtha, and Manava. G. S. state that a man should marry a girl who does not have the same Pravara.[3] Further in the Dharmashastra and Grhyasutra texts we find that some rishis forbade marriage with a sagotra (samana or same gotra rshis) girls while some others prohibit it with a sapravara (same pravara rshis) girls. Many seers, and works like Vishnu Dharmasutra (24.9), Yajnavalkya (1.53), Narada Smrti (Stripumsa, 7) have ordained that marriage to a sagotra and sapravara girl is "amanya" or not accepted.[2]

In the recent past, extensive research regarding exogamy (marrying outside the clan) and endogamy (marriage of related persons) has unearthed some interesting aspects about the new generations of people both biologically as well as psychologically. Eugenists have been warning the world so much against in-marrying which they have found out to be the cause of racial degeneration - physical, mental and moral; so also have these pioneer workers been telling their own people in no small voice, against unreasoned, eccentric and emotional choosing and mating, called ‘falling in love’ in popular parlance. In this context Gotra plays an extremely important role in the process of mating and hence one must look deeply into the rules, methods of Sanatana Dharma and outlook of exogamy and endogamy in Indian societies. We will discuss more such aspects about Gotra in this article.

Etymology of Gotra

Though the word Gotra is used in the Rigveda to express many meanings according to the context, such as a cow-stall, a cloud, a fort, and a mountain range, yet ‘enclosure’ appears to be the main idea associated with Gotra. Later on the word Gotra came to signify a group of persons living together within the same walls. In the Srauta, Grihya and Dharmasutras, the term Gotra denotes a group of persons who are distinguished by the same family name (i.e. surname) and who are believed to have descended from the same ancestor.[3] Here are a few instances[2]

  • In the Rigveda (1.5.113, 1.17.1, 3.39.4, 3.4337, 9.86.23, 10.48.2, 10.12018), gotra means "cowstable" or "cowshed"or "herd of cows". By a natural metaphor, the 'Gotra' represents a cloud (in which waters are held just as cows in a cow-shed) or Vrtra (the cloud-asura) and also to a mountain range or peak which conceals water-yielding clouds.
  • In Rigveda (2.23.3) (where Brihaspati's chariot is said to be Gotrabhid) Taittriya samhita (, Atharva veda (5.2.8) etc, the term Gotra has been used in the sense of "Durg or Fort".
  • In Rigveda (2.23.18) and (6.65.5) gotra is used in the sense of "samuha" or assemblage.
  • In the Atharvaveda (5.21.3) the compound "Vishvagotrayaha" is used, and the word Gotra here clearly means a group of persons connected together by blood'.
  • The Kaushika sutra (4.2) quotes a mantra in which gotra undoubtedly means "a group of persons".
  • Several passages in the Taittriya samhita show that descendants of great rshis were often called after the names of those rshis. In Tait. Samh (1.8.18) it is said 'hota is a Bhaargava". Bhaargava is the descendant of Bhrgu maharshi.
  • It is possible that in those times descent was traced through teacher and student as well as father and son. In numerous mantras of the Rigveda the descendants of well-known rshis are denoted by the plural form of the names of those rshis. In Rigveda (6.35.5) the Bharadvaajas are referred to as Aangirasas. Sunahsepa is said to have been an Aangirasa by birth (Aitr. Brah. 33.5). This illustrates that gotra relationship was by birth (and not from teacher to pupil). However, in the Upanishads, the rshis when expounding the knowledge of Brahman addressed their students by the gotra names. e.g. Vaiyaaghrapada and Gautama in Chandogya Upanishad (5.14.1 and 5.16.1) Gautama and Bharadvaaja, Vishvamitra and Jamadagni, Vasishta and Kashyapa in Brhdaranyaka Upanishad (2.2.4)
  • In the Brahmana literature families of purohitas differing in details of worship, grouped together based on their similarity in worship. Such groups were named after their founding rshis.[2] For example, Taittriya Brahmana (1.1.4) prescribes that aadhana (consecration) of the agnis was to be performed by one mantra by the families of Bhrgus or Aangirasas, while other gotra families use a different mantra in the same context.

In this context it shows that reference to gotras in the Brahmanas and Upanishads were given in connection with performing yajnas and imparting brahmajnana. There are no distinct references to these gotras and sagotra in relation to marriage. In the Latyayana srautasutra (8.2.8 and 10) in the discussion about Visvajit yajna there is a reference to marriage with 'samana-jana' (used in the sense of sagotra). This proves that long before this srautasutra, marriage with a sagotra had been forbidden.[2]

Definitions of Gotra and Pravara

Baudhayana states that though there are innumerable Gotras, the number of their Pravaras is forty-nine only. The Baudhayana srautasutra (Pravaradhyaya) defines that Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadvaja, Gautama, Atri, Vasishtha, Kashyapa, are the Saptarshis. Saptarshis and Agastya along with their progeny is declared to be Gotra. As mentioned in the Introduction section, Manu also gives a list of eight rshis whose lineages gave rise to Gotras.[4][5][6][7]

विश्वामित्रो जमदनिर्भरद्वाजोऽथ गौतमः । अत्रिर्वसिष्ठः कश्यप इत्येते सप्त ऋषयः । तेषां सप्तर्षीणामगस्त्याष्टमानां यदपत्यं तद्गोत्रमुच्यते। (बौ. श्रौ. प्रवराध्याय)

गोत्राणां तु सहस्राणि प्रयुतान्यर्बुदानि च। ऊनपञ्चाशदेवैषां प्रवरा ऋषिदर्शनात् ।

Brahmarshis and Gotrakaras.PNG

There are thousands, tens of thousands and arbudas of gotras but the pravaras are only 49 in number.

The lineages of the eight rshis mentioned above constitute the Gotra. In the Matsya Purana we find an anecdote about the origin of rshis from Brahma after he performs a homa. The names of Brahmarshis are[8]

  1. Bhrigu
  2. Angiras
  3. Atri
  4. Marichi
  5. Pulaha (gave birth to Rakshasas)
  6. Pulastya (gave birth to Pisachas)
  7. Vasishta (died and appeared as descendant of Marichi)

Thus all existing Brahmans are the descendants of the first four rshis. The Saptarshis (सप्तर्षयः) have a special place as Gotrakaras. Saptarshis and Agastya are mentioned to be the male founders or ancestors since ancient times. Widely accepted opinion is that the spread of progeny was due to these eight rshis. These eight rshis were all the descendants of the first four rshis namely, Bhrigu, Angiras, Marichi and Atri. Thus a gotra denotes all persons who were descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor. When a person says "I am Jamadagni gotra" he means that he traces his descent from the ancient rshi Jamadagni by unbroken male descent.[2] The descendants of each of the eight Gotrakaras cannot intermarry among themselves; but with those of the other. This shows that restriction for intermarriage between gotrakaras did not exist prior to their days, even though they were descendants of same Brahmarshi. For example, descendants of Bharadvaja and Gautama could intermarry even though both Gotrakaras descended from Angiras (Brahma's son).[8]

Gargacharya Lineage.png

It should be noted that gotras are named not only after their founding rshis, for example, Kashyapa gotra has Kashyapa rshi as the founding father; but also by the name of an earlier ancestor such as in Koushika gotra, where Vishvamitra Maharshi started it in the name of his grandfather Kushika rshi.[9]

Panini grammatically defines gotra as अपत्यं पौत्रप्रभृति गोत्रम् । ४.१.१६२ (Asht. 4.1.162)[10] which means 'the word gotra denotes the progeny (of a rshi) beginning with the son's son (i.e., grandson of a person). For example, the son of गर्गः (Garga maharshi) would be called गार्गि (Gārgi), but the grandson would be called गार्ग्यः (Gārgyaḥ) and the plural गर्गाः (Gargāḥ) would denote all descendants of Garga (downwards from Garga's grandson). It should be noted that this scheme was meant in a technical sense and uses the word gotra as comprehending all descendants of a common male ancestor.

The word "gotra" is also secondarily used to denote a person, who based on his very illustrious on account of his learning, wealth, valor or generosity, gives a name to his descendants thereby becoming the founder of a family. This is laukika gotra. But this secondary meaning of the gotra does not apply to the brahmana lineages coming from rshis; it applies more so to the kshatriyas.[2]

The Pravara rshis belonged to same lineage as the Gotra rshis among their children, grandchildren and students. Among the Pravara rshis, notably we find the mantra-drashtas. Pravara means recalling the lineage of a person and reciting the names of the descendants of the mula-rshi or the founding father along with the ancient rshis of that lineage. Pravara not only includes the father-son relationships in the descendants but also recalls the students of the founding rshi. They are said to be shreshta (well-known) among the lineage. The system of Gotras and Pravaras has been given in the ancient past and cannot be changed in any way. Neither the rshis mentioned in the Pravara nor the sequence in which they are to pronounce their names can ever be changed by anyone. Pravara includes the Gotra rshi, either at the beginning, middle or at the end and in some instances may not be included. (Telugu Book)

Number of Gotras and Pravaras

Number of Gotras

According to Manu, the following eight (mula-rshis) were the Gotrakara rshis or family founders.[4]

जमदग्निर्मरद्वाजो विश्वामित्रात्रिगौतमाः । वसिष्ठ काश्यपागस्त्या मुनयो गोत्रकारिणः । एतेषां यान्यपत्यानि तानि गोत्राणि मन्यते ॥

Summary: Jamadagni (जमदग्निः), Bharadvaja (भरद्वाजः), Vishvamitra (विश्वामित्रः), Atri (अत्रिः), Gautama (गोतमः), Vasishta (वसिष्ठः), Kashyapa (काश्यपः), and Agasthya (अगस्त्यः) are the Gotrakara (rshis). Their children are also considered as gotras. In the Matsya Purana we find an anecdote about the origin of rshis from Brahma as follows

महादेवस्य शापेन त्यक्त्वा देहं स्वयं तथा। ऋषयश्च समुद्भूता हुते शुक्रे महात्मनः ।। १९५.६

तज्जुहाव ततो ब्रह्मा ततो जाता हुताशनात्। ततो जातो महातेजा भृगुश्च तपसं निधिः ।। १९५.८

अङ्गरेष्वङ्गिरा जातो ह्यर्चिभ्योऽत्रिस्तथैव च। मरीचिभ्यो मरीचिस्तु ततो जातो महातपाः ।। १९५.९

केशैस्तु कपिशो जातः पुलस्त्यश्च महातपाः। केशैः प्रलम्बैः पुलहस्ततो जातो महातपाः ।। १९५.१0

वसुमध्यात् समुत्पन्नो वसिष्ठस्तु तपोधनः। १९५.११ (Mats. Pura. 195. 6, 8-10)[11]

Summary - By the curse of Mahadev (Shiva) they (Saptarshis) gave up the bodily existence and by Brahma they arose again from Hutasana (Agni) when he performed homa in the fire with his Shukra (semen). From Agni arose the radiant Bhrigu, Angiras when shukra was deposited on the burning coals (angaras). Atri maharshi was born from the flames (अग्निशिखा). Marichi rose from the rays (किरणो से), the one born was the tapasvi Pulastya, while the one with long hairs was called Pulaha. Born from among the Vasus, self controlled and tapasvi was Vasishta.

Apart from this reference for origin of eight gotrakaras in the Matsya purana we find elaborate enumerations of the gotras and pravaras of many rshis. Similarly the Vayu purana (Adhyayas 88 and 89 Anandashram series publication) and Skanda purana (3.2) and even the Mahabharata (Anushasana Parva) contain enumerations about gotras and pravaras. Recent works on these topics is given in texts such as Smrtyarthasara, Dharmasindhu and Nirnayasindhu apart from special works such as Pravaramanjari where the lists of gotras are available.[2]

Number of Pravaras

Regarding the number of the Rishis in a Pravara, Apastamba lays down that one rshi, or two, or three, or five rshis may be included in a Pravara; and Apastamba imposes the restriction that four or more than five Rishis should never be chosen for inclusion in the specific formula to be recited at the yajna.

एकं वृणीते । द्वौ वृणीते । त्रीन्वृणीते । न चतुरो वृणीते । न पञ्चातिवृणीत इति विज्ञायते ७ (Apas. Shrau. Sutr. 24.6.7)

The gotras are arranged in groups or sub-divisions or ganas (गणः) and each of these are further divided into pakshas. A vast majority of gotras have three pravara rshis, a few have only one pravara rshi or two or five.

Varna of Gotrakaras

Interchanging of varnas was not unseen in the early days, which was primarily due to tapas (penance) and change of professions. The legend of Vishvamitra rshi, described in Ramayana, is often quoted as an example of a Kshatriya becoming a Brahman after performing tapas for thousands of years. Thus kshatriya became a brahmana gotrakara.

At least ten more such families are said to have formed in a similar manner. They consist of those Brahmanas, who having performed the profession of Kshatriyas became brahmanas. They followed either maharshi Bhrigu or Angiras. These are also known as kevala or isolated Bhargavas or Aangiras and are permitted to marry with all other families.[8]

In the Rigveda, mantra drashta rshis are said to be 403 in number. They are classified into two viz., those who are independent called as Ekaki (केवल/एकाकी) and others who are supported by other members in the family (lineage) hence called Parivarika (पारिवारिक). Some independent rshis (mentioned as kevala) such as kevala Bhargava, kevala Angirasa, kevala Haarita and others do not have a gotra. Bhrigu and Angirasa are not present in the group of eight rshis mentioned above. But since they have same Pravara rshis marriage within these gotras is forbidden.[7]

Different aspects about Gotra and Pravara


There are certain families that are dvigotras, i.e., they have two gotras. Ashvalayana uses the word 'द्विप्रवाचना (dvipravaachana)' for them. They are principally three viz., Shaung-shaisiris, Samkritis, Laugaakshis.

अथ य एते द्विप्रवाचना यथैतच्छौङ्गशैशिरयः भरद्वाजाहशुङ्गाः कताः शैशिरयः २ (Ashv. Shra. Sutr. 12.2)[12]

From a Shunga, a subdivision of Bharadvaja gotra, was born a son to the wife belonging to Shaishira, a subdivision of Vishvamitra gotra; the son came to be called as Shunga - Shaishira. Therefore, Shunga-Shaishiras cannot marry in both Bharadvaja and Vishvamitra gotras.

आङ्गिरसबार्हस्पत्यभारद्वाज-कात्यात्कीलेति ६ (Pravara of Shunga Shaishira)

In the case of the adopted son also, on the analogy of the Shauga-shaishiras both gotras and the pravaras of both gotras have to be considered for marriage.[2] The Sankhayana shrautasutra (1.4.10) prescribes six Arsheyas (the names of Rishis) for a yajamana belonging to two Gotras, e.g., a man who has gone as adopted son to another Gotra will have the Gotra of his adopted father as well as of his natural father.[3]

Dvyamushyana and Adoption

According to Dattaka Chandrika, lays the rule of having samskaras performed by the adopting father to bring the child into his family.

पितुर्गोत्रेर्ण यः पुत्रः संस्कृतः पृथिवीपते । आचूडान्तं न पुत्रः स पुत्रतां याति चान्यतः॥

चूडाद्या यदि संस्कारा निजगोत्रण वै कृताः। दत्ताद्यास्तनयास्ते स्युरन्यथा दास उच्यते॥ (Dattaka chandrika)

Meaning: A son, (if adopted) who has been initiated in samskaras under the family name of his natural father, up to chudasamskrara (tonsure) - that son does not acquire filial relationship to the another (father who adopted him) unless the Chudakarma and the rest of the samskaraas are performed under the gotra of the adopter. If the samskaras are not performed again by the adopter then the status of the son is said to be that of a dasa (servant) and not of a son (putra). If there exists an agreement stipulating that the son adopted should be the son of the natural father and the adopting father, then under this special situation applicable to both families, the adopted son is called Dvyamushyana.[13] Such an adopted son is a dvigotra, i.e., one having two gotras.

अनेनैवन्याये नपरगोत्रोत्पन्न-दत्तकादीनामिदानींतनानामपि-द्विगोत्रत्वात् अनकप्रतिग्रहीतृपित्रोद्वयोरपिस नात्रपुरुषसंख्या तेनशतपुरुषोत्तरमपिद्विगोत्रत्वंनापति ...॥ (Dhar. Sind. Page 357)

A person who is adopted cannot marry within the gotras of both the natural and adopted fathers as he is a dvigotra. Girls from both the families would be sagotras to him. Even after 100 generations the lineage of the adopted person will remain a dvigotra only.[7] According to Manu

When gotra is not known

अथस्वगोत्राज्ञाने-उपनयनेयआचार्यस्तद्गोत्रप्रवरैरेवकर्माणिविवाहाविवाहौचेति आचार्य गोत्राज्ञानेतु दत्वात्मानंतुकस्मैचित्तद्गोत्रप्रवरोभवेत् ॥ (Dhar. Sind. Page 357)[7]

When a person does not know his gotra then during the Upanayana samskara he can take the gotra and pravara of the Acharya conducting the Upanayana and follow the associated rules. Acharya's gotra and pravara are also used to exclude the bride's gotra. If even the Acharya's gotra is unknown, then the person has to perform a dana of himself to anyone and take the gotra and pravara of that person who took the dana.[7]

It is also said in Gotrapravara-manjari that whose ever purohita parampara is broken and hence does not know his gotra, he can be counted under the Kashyapa gotra, because Kashyapa rshi is considered to be earliest ancestor.[4]

Chandogya Upanishad describes the story of Satyakama Jabala (सत्यकामजाबालः) who wanted to get initiated into brahmacharyashrama but he did not know his gotra. Sankara bhashya of Chandogya Upanishad clarifies the reason about his mother not knowing the gotra in which he was born.[14]

मातृगोत्रवर्जननिर्णयः॥ Exclusion of Maternal Family Gotra

अथमातृगोत्रवर्जननिर्णयः तत्रमातृगोत्रपदेनमातामहगोत्रमेववर्ज्यं तच्चगांधर्वादिविवाहोढापुत्राणांसर्वेषांवर्ज्यं ब्राह्मविवाहोढापुत्राणांतुसर्वेषांमातामहगोत्रंनवर्ज्यं किन्तुमाध्यंदिनानामेव मातृगोत्रंमाध्यंदिनीयानामितिसत्याषाढवचनात् तथैवसर्वत्रशिष्टाचाराच्च ॥ (Dhar. Sind. Page 358)[7]

Summary - Here the rules for excluding the mother's gotra are taken up. By mother's gotra it means gotra of the maternal side (the family which the mother belongs to) which is to be excluded. The children of the girl who is married by Gandharva vidhi cannot marry anyone in the maternal family (the gotra of maternal grandfather). But the children of the girl married by Brahma vidhi can marry anyone in the maternal family with one exception. This rule applies to all those belonging to any vedashaka except Madhyandina shaka or Yajurveda.

Gotra of Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras

The Aitareya Brahmana, deals with the question of what is the gotra of Kshatriyas and Vaishyas.

अथातो दीक्षाया आवेदनस्यैव तदाहुर्यद्ब्राह्मणस्य दीक्षितस्य ब्राह्मणोऽदीक्षिष्टेति दीक्षामावेदयन्ति कथं क्षत्रियस्यावेदयेदिति ..... यज्ञमुपावर्तत तस्मात्तस्य पुरोहितस्यार्षेयेण दीक्षामावेदयेयुः पुरोहितस्यार्षेयेण प्रवरम्प्रवृणीरन् २५ ॥ (Ait. Brah. 34.7.25)[15]

Summary - When a Brahmana is initiated for a yajna, that fact is announced in these words 'a brahmana has been initiated for a yajna' and the pravara is recited. How is the initiation of the Kshatriya to be announced? According to the above given Aiteraya Brahmana reference, even in the case of the kshatriya the announcement is to be in the same form but with the pravara of his purohita. They should proclaim the kshatriya's deeksha (initiation) as a yajama with the Arsheya (pravara) of his family purohita. Dharmasindhu reiterates as follows

क्षत्रियवै गोत्रैःसह अविवाहोज्ञेयः श्यौतुपुरोहितगोत्रप्रवरावितिसर्वसिद्धांतः ॥ (Dhar. Sind. Page 357)[7]

Kshatriyas and Vaishyas will take the gotra and pravara of their (family) purohita in general. Dr. Rajabali Pandey refers to Agnipurana (varnasankara-upakhyana) further to state that while the mula-purushas of gotra are brahmanas, through the purohita (who are brahmanas) parampara they (gotras) were passed on to the Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and even Shudras.

क्षत्रिय-वैश्य-शूद्राणां गोत्रं च प्रवरादिकम् । तथान्यवर्णसङ्कराणां येषां विप्राश्च याजकाः॥[4]

Where are gotra and pravara used?

Families since ancient times have been patriarchal, in which clan name or gotra was transmitted from the father to the son. Loss of paternal gotra often resulted from a violation of marriage rules and amounted to being cast out of the family status. Thus gotras played an important role in the Indian society. People were identified largely by their gotras be it any varna.[5] Apart from importance in marriage ceremonies gotra and pravara are recited in many rituals and practices of Sanatana Dharma. In daily rituals like devata puja and archanas, only the gotra is taken in the sankalpa and pravara is not recited. In the many texts we find numerous instances where the gotra and pravara based exclusions or inclusion of practices are followed.


Shrauta yajnas were conducted by brahmanas based on their gotras. For example, Jaimini establishes that sattras (yagas performed extending over 12 days and more) could be performed by brahmanas other than those having the Bhrugu, Vashista gotras.[2]


  1. In the activities such as in sandhyavandana, person's gotra is recited in the sankalpa. A person has to repeat his gotra, pravara, Vedashaka and Sutra which one studies, during the sandhyavandana.[2]
  2. Sankalpa of the nitya devata puja at home or any puja in a temple involves taking the gotra of the couple or persons performing the puja.
  3. The sankalpa while taking a bath at home or in a teertha, or in sacred rivers such as Ganga, Godavari etc or while taking a bath in the sea (during Amavasya and Purnima) involves saying the gotra of the person.[3]
  4. While performing a dana, the names and gotras of both the donor and the acceptor are recited. A dana is usually not given to members of the same family, say a son and father.


  1. A person has to know his veda, sakha, and sutra according to his gotra. All the samksaras are to be performed according to the sutras (Dharmasutras) and vedas followed for that gotra. For example, if a person's gotra is Kaushika, and his Veda is Yajurveda, he has to follow the rituals as given in the Dharmasutras associated with Yajurveda, such as Baudhayana, Apastamba etc. He cannot perform the rituals according to Ashvalayana Dharmasutras which are sutra granthas of Rigveda.[9]
  2. In the Choula samskara, the tufts of hair on the head were to be left in accordance with the gotra, pravara, and the practice of the family. (Khadira. Gr. 2.3.30)[2]
  3. In the Upanayana samskara, the knots in the yajopaveeta are based on the number of rshis in the pravara. (Brah. Gotra. Page 17).[9] The girdle (mekhala) was to have one, three, or five knots according to the number of rshis constituting the boy's pravara. (Sankhyayana. Gr. 2.2)[2]

Special Rules in Vivaha Samskara

  • When alliances are arranged by the elders they check the bride's gotra and pravara; it should not be the same as the groom's gotra and pravara. Apastamba says that[3]

समानगोत्रप्रवरां कन्यामुढ्वोपगम्यच। तस्यामुत्पाद्य चाण्डालं ब्राह्मण्यादेव हीयते। (Prav. Darp. Page 188)[8]

Meaning - In case of marriage of a girl having same gotras and pravara, the progeny becomes a chandala (they do not belong to Brahmana varna anymore).

  • Baudhayana lays down that, if a woman belonging to the same Gotra is taken as a wife without the previous knowledge of her Gotra, she should be maintained like mother; and that the man should undergo the Krichchhra penance, if she has given birth to a child.[3]
  • In the Lajaa homa at marriage two offerings were to be made by all except Jaamadagynas, who have to make three offerins (Asva. Grhy. 1.7.8-9)[2]


  • The wealth of a person who dies without issues went to his near sagotras (Gaut. 28.19)[2]

Shraddha and Pitrkarmas

  • Gotra is also important in the context of Asoucha especially in Mrta-Asoucha to determine which member of the family has to follow the restrictions of Asoucha for how many days. For example,

    एकपिण्डास्तु दायादाः पृथग्दारनिकेतनाः । जन्मन्यपि विपत्तौ च तेषां तत्सूतकं भवेत् ॥ ३.7 ॥ (Para. Smrt. 3.7)[16]

    Even if the Dayadis (one who are sagotras and sapindas) have separate homes and their families are not living in joint families, they have the same rules of ten days of sutakam (both at birth and death).
  • The brahmanas (bhoktas) invited in Shraddha karmas should not be a sagotra to the person performing the karma. (Apas. Dhar. Sutr.[2]
  • In offering water to a preta (a recently dead person for whom the 10-day karma is being performed) his gotra and name were to be repeated (Ashv. Gr. 4.4.10)[2]


  1. Pandharinath H. Valavalkar (1939) Hindu Social Institutions with reference to their psychological implications. Bombay: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 Kane, Pandurang Vaman. (1941) History of Dharmasastra (Ancient and Mediaeval Religious and Civil Law) Vol. 2, Part 1. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. (Page 478-)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Gopal, Ram. (1959) India of Vedic Kalpasutras. Delhi : National Publishing House (Pages 209 -)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Dr. Rajabali Pandey (2014 4th Edition) Hindu Dharma Kosha. Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan (Pages 241-242)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Nandi, R. (1970). GOTRA AND SOCIAL MOBILITY IN THE DECCAN. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Vol 32, Pages 118-124. Retrieved August 24, 2021, from
  6. Caland, W (1913) The Baudhayana Srauta Sutra belonging to Taittriya Samhita, Vol 3 Calcutta: Asiatic Society (Page 467)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Rajavaidya Ravidutta Shastri (2020 Reprint Edition) Dharmasindhu with Hindi Commentary. Delhi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan. (Pages 345 - 359)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Rao, Chenstal. (1900 Second Edition) The Principles of Pravara and Gotra. Mysore: Government Branch Press.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Devalal, Rajendra. Brahmana Gotravali, Utpatti, Vamsh, Pravar - Gotra sahit. Delhi: Swasthik Publications (Pages 5 - 20)
  10. Ashtadhyayi by Panini Maharshi (Adhyaya 4)
  11. Matsya Mahapurana, Gorakhpur: Gita Press (Pages 896-897)
  12. Ashvalayana Shrauta Sutra (Adhyaya 12)
  13. Sutherland, J. C. C. (1865) The Dattaka Mimansa and Dattaka Chandrika, Two original treatises on the Hindu Law of Adoption. Calcutta: Sree Nauth Banarjee and Brothers. (Page 146 )
  14. Chandogya Upanishad and Shankara Bhashya, Volume 3. (Hindi Translation). Gorakhpur: Gita Press (Pages 380-381)
  15. Aitareya Brahmana (Panjika 7)
  16. The Smriti Sandarbha (1988) Collection of the Four Dharmashastric Texts by Maharshies. Vol. 2. Delhi: Nag Publishers. (Page 633-)