Gotra system prevailing in India is a system of linking one to his ancestors.
It is also one’s identity.
Gotra is referred to for all family functions, both auspicious and inauspicious.
It is one of the parameters for fixing marriages.
Gotra also let’s one to know which Veda,Branch one belongs to.
I have written on Gotra and list of Gotras of Brahmins,Vaisyas and Kshatriyas.
Gotras have one,Two,Three ,Five or Seven Rishis in the Pravara.
For more details please Google Gotra/Pravara ramanan50.
The Varnas,wrongly called as Castes are based on Disposition and Character.
Not By Birth.
Each has Gotras.
Many Rishis occur in different Gotras.
This is because at times,the profession/ conduct of the Rishi changes.
Accordingly,the offspring from the Rishi,is assigned a Gotra based on the character, Conduct, Disposition of the Rishi at the time of the conception of the child.
Thus,we find Kausika and Vishwamitra Gotras,though both denote Viswamitra.
Viswamitra was a Kshatriya by Disposition,as he was a king;he was assigned the Brahmana Varna on his realisation of Brahman.
So we have two Gotras under him.
And as later development,people have started using the Geographical locations,their professons as a part of their name.
This had resulted in confusion about one’s Gotra.
It is difficult to trace the gotra when all the above are mixed up.
Since people change professions,their Gotras change, though the founder is one of the Seven Eternal Rishis.
These Rishis change for Each Manvantara.
For the present Manvantara,Vaiwasvatha,the Seven Rishis are,
Kashyap and Angirasa.
All Gotras originate from these Rishis.
When one’s gotra is not clear or one does not know the Gotra,it is customary to assign Kasyapa Gotra as he is the progenitor of both Mankind and Devas.
For those who do not know their Gotras, either because the family lost knowledge of the same, or if a person became an orphan in childhood – the Gotra and Pravara of the family purohita becomes their Gotra.
आचार्यगोत्रप्रवरानभिज्ञस्तु द्विजः स्वयम् |
दत्त्वात्मानं तु कस्मैचित्तद्गोत्रप्रवरो भवेत् ||
Another solution given in the shastras is to accept the Kashyapa Gotra since the Shrutis declare Kashyapa as the forefather of all humanity.
गोत्रस्यत्वपरिज्ञाने काश्यपं गोत्रमुच्यते |
यस्मादाह श्रुतिः सर्वाः प्रजाः कश्यपसंभवाः ||
There is also a practice of assigning Vishnu Gotra to people who belong to Kshatriya Varna and Jambu Maharishi Gotra to Vaisyas.
And there is the practice of assigning Siva Gotra to one who worships Siva.
Reference and citations.
- Smruti muktavali – Shodasha Karma Prakarana – By Sri Krishnacharya, Shishya of Sri Raghavendra Swamiji
- Matsya Purana.
- Markandeya Purana.
- Valmiki Ramayana.
- “Rishigalu” – A book in Kannada by Sri Be. Na. Vijayeendracharya, published by Sri Harivayu Prakashana, First edition, 2014