Question discussion Open
Difference between Gotra and pravara?
|Kalyani PandeyPosted: 16 Jun 2017|
|Kalyani Pandey||16 Jun 2017||
A good question to ask. Many people do not know what is the basis for
the Gotra and pravara system.
Basically, a Gotra literally meaning Cow pen indicates lineage of a
In the olden days, the life of the people was centered on looking
after their herd of cows. Cows were the property of the community and
their protection etc used to be the principal occupation. By then,
the Varna system (the four fold occupational division of Indian
society) has not started because there was no development of
occupations as such.
The religion also more community based rather than personal. The
concept of personal gods has not come into picture by then and all
the people used to pray to the god of nature. I dont think even Indra
was worshipped during these days.
The original patriarch was recognized as Praja pati or Brahma and his
regents on the earth were the ten brahmas :
All the communities (or cow pens) are originally centered around
these 10 brahmas since they were supposed to be the sons of the
Prajapati or the Creator. Thus, a person has come to be known by the
Brahma of the community he belonged to. This is what is called as
Gotra( lineage based on cow pen one belonged to)
Out of these, Narada has refused to be a part of the proliferation
and remained bachelor .But it is more probable that even if he has
prolifirated, he and his people might have not settled at a place and
might have been absorbed into whichever Gotra they have been married
The Gotras of pulaha and paulastrya also vanished for various reasons.
With time, the remaining seven gotras have transformed to the present
day primary gotras and in fact, new gotras have also formed from
them. A s per one estimate, there were no less than 73 gotras in the
Rg Vedic times. But all these gotras formed only on the basis of the
above 7 Gotras or their modifications.
With times, there was the Varna systems and with growth of
occupations and the societies, kings have come into existance. The
primary duty of ksatriyas was to protect has been turned into more
important responsibility of governing. Thus, the lineages have
changed from Gotras into the kingly dynasties.
Some people have a misunderstanding that only Brahmins have gotras.
It is not so, since at the time of formation of gotras there was no
varna or caste system present.
Today, we see that people belonging to several castes outside the
castes of Brahmins, ksatriyas and vaisyas bearing gotras. However,
most of these gotras have come into existance after the formation of
Varna systme has collapsed in post Mahabharat times and caste system
has grown out of the collapsed varna system, at a much later time.
Most of the known gotras have come into existance in the post caste
Pravara is different from Gotra in the sense that it indicates the
grouping of gotras. Marriages are prohibited amongst ones own Gotra
It is scientific and socially accepted that one should avoid
marriages in ones own relatives and marrying outside ones gotra or
pravara constructs the basic rules of marriage.