The word “gotra” means “lineage” in the Sanskrit language. Among those of the Brahmin caste, gotras are reckoned patrilineally. Each gotra takes the name of a famous Rishi or sage who was the patrilineal forebearer of that clan. And each Gotra is addressed by the suffix ‘sa’ or ‘asa’ as relevant.
The concept of Gotra was the sociodemographic-cultural coding by Brahma to classify His family, themselves among different groups. At the beginning, these gentes identified themselves by the names of various rishis (Angirasa, Daksha, Himavan, Atri, Gautam, Vishrava, Kashyapa, Bhrigu, Vashista, Kutsa,and Bharadwaja; the first seven of these are often enumerated as Saptarishis). It is to be noted that Vishwamitra was initially a Kshatriya king, who later chose and rose to become an ascetic rishi. Hence the gotra was applied to the grouping stemming from one of these rishis as his descendants.
Many lines of descent from the major rishis were later grouped separately. Accordingly, the major gotras were divided into ganas (subdivisions) and each gana was further divided into groups of families. The term gotra was then frequently started being applied to the ganas and to the sub-ganas. Every brahmin claims to be a direct patrilineal descendant of one of the founding rishis of a certain gana or sub-gana. It is the gana or sub-gana that is now commonly referred to as gotra.
Over the years, the number of gotras increased due to:
Descendants of original rishi also started new family lineage or new gotras,
By inter marriage with other sub-groups of the same caste, and
Inspired by another rishi whose name they bear as their own gotra.
Pravara is the number of the most excellent (-cf. reference, Sanskrit-English Dictionary, Monier-Williams) 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 ritualist for extolling his ancestry and proclaiming, “as a descendant of worthy ancestors, I am a fit and proper person to do the act I am performing.” The sacred thread yajnopavita worn on upanayana 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 of the most excellent rishis belonging to one’s gotra.
The full affiliation of a brāhamana consists of (1)gotra, (2)pravaras (3)sutra (of Kalpa), (4)shakha.
(Example A brahmana named ‘X’ introduces himself as follows : I am ‘X’, of Shrivatsa gotra, of Āpastamba sutra, of Taittiriya shākha of Yajurveda, of five pravaras named Bhārgava, Chyāvana, Āpnavan, Aurva and Jāmadagnya (This example is based upon the example given by Pattābhirām Shastri in the introduction to Vedārtha-Pārijata, cf. ref.).
While the gotras were classified initially according to nine (?) rishis, the pravaras were classified under the names of the following seven rishis:
According to the listing of authors included in the verses in Rigved, the rishi Jamadagni was a descendant of rishi Bhrigu while the rishis Gautam and Bharadwaja were the descendants of rishi Angirasa. There were a group of rishis(well known as yogi), they believed that, they are originated from Lord Shiva, successor of that rishis are under Shiva(Shiv-Adi) gotra and well known as Rudraja Brahmin.
The pravara identifies the association of a person with three or sometimes five of the above-mentioned rishis.
For example, Kashyapa Gothram has 3 rishis associated with it viz. Kashyapa, Daivala and Aavatsaara
Gothras and Pravaras
Suryadhwaja: Lakhi (Mehrishi), Soral, Binju
Angirasa, Gairola (i.e. Sarola brahmin) Bruhaspatya (i.e. bruhaspati), Bharadwaja, Upreti
Rathitara: Baaryhaspatya, Angirasa, Rathitara
Vadula: Bhargava, Vaitahavya, Saavedasa
Srivatsa: Bhargava, Chyavana, Aapnavaana, Aurva, Jaamadagni
Salankayana: Viswaamitra, Aghamarshana, Devarata
Shatamarshana: Angirasa, Powrukutsa,Traasatasya
Atreyasa: Atreyasa, Aarchanaasa, Syaavatsyasa
Kalabodhana: Viswaamitra, Agamarshana, Kalabodhana
Kalaboudha: Viswaamitra, Agamarshana, Kalaboudha
Kalabhavasa: Viswaamitra, AAgamarshana, Kalabhavasa
Viswamitra: Viswamitra, Devarata, Owtala
Kaama kaayana Viswaamitra: one who has conquered lust: Vaishwaamitra, Devasravasa, Daivatharasa
Kaundinyasa (Kaundinya): Vashista, Maitraavaruna, Kaundinya
Haritasa/Harita/Haritsa: Angirasa, Ambarisha, Yuvanasva
Gautamasa: Angirasa, Aayasyasa, Gautama
gautamasa 7 sages; gautama, ayasya, ousishya, oushaja, kankshvadana, bhriguridhdha, vaamadava:krishna yajurveda tiettereeya saakha
Angirasa, Bharmyasva, Mowdgalya
Tarkshya, Bharmyasva, Mowdgalya
Angirasa, Dhavya, Mowdgalya
Sandilya (4 Variations)
Brahma, Daksha_Kaamadhenu, Bhrigu_Srivatsa_Khyati, Bhargav_Nandini, Kashyap_Diti_Bali, Kashyap_Aditi_Surya_Bhishma, Naidhruva, Asitha_Videhi, Sandeya/Sanatana/Sanandana/Sanaka/Sanasujata, Bharadvaj, Yamdagni
Kasyapasa, Aavatsaara, Daivala
Kasyapasa, Aavatsaara, Sandilya
Kasyapasa, Daivala, Asitha
Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Dev, Naidruva(Naitruva), Marichi, Rebha, Raibha, Shandila, Shaandilya
Kanva (2 Variations)
Parashara: Vashista, Saaktya, Parashara
Gargya/Garga (2 Variations)
Angirasa, Sainya, Gaargya
Bhadarayana: Angirasa,Paarshadaswa, Raatitara
Kasyapa (3 Variations)
Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Dev, Marichi, Daivala,
Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Dev, Marichi, Naidruva(Naitruva),
Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Dev, Naidruva(Naitruva), Marichi, Rebha, Raibha, Sandila, Saandilya
Sunkriti (2 Variations)
Angirasa, Pourukutsya, Thraasadasya
Gautamasa: Aangeerasa, ayasya, gowtama
AgniVaiwaswatha: Angirasa, Brahaspthayasa, Bharadwaja, Srukva, Agnivaiwaswathasa
Vishwamitra, Shraumita, Kaamakayana, Devatarasa, Devaraata, Panchashraya
Kutchasa: Harita, Ambarisha, Yuvanaswa, Mahandatha, Dharba, Pingala
Rauksaayana:Angiras, Mandhana, Madhuvachasa
Jamadagni: Bhargava, Chyavana, Aapnavaana, Aurava, Jaamadagneya
Vatsa: Orva,Bhardwaj,Bhargava, Chyavana, Aapnavan, Devgan ,Gori
Mohiyals : Munjhals,Dutt,Bali, Bakshi, Punj, Chibber,Lau,Mehta,Mohan
Jaabaali : Bhargava, Vaithahavya, Raivasa – Thrayarisheya, pravaranvitha
parthivasa : Bhargava, vynavya, parthivedi
Mudgal : Mudgal gotra in brahmin
Upreti Brahmin [Mehlonia],[Tupria],[Mahere][Atri][bajpayi],[tiwari][Khareria]
List of Brahmin Gotras
The following is a partial list of gotras found in the Brahmin community of Hindus:
Maudgalya (Moudgil, Mudgal)