gotra गोत्र

Definition: Occurs several times in the Rigveda in the account of the mythic exploits of Indra. Roth interprets the word as cowstall,’ while Geldner thinks ‘ herd ’ is meant. The latter sense seems to explain best the employment which the term shows in the later literature as denoting the £ family or £ clan,’ and which is found in the Chāndogya Upanisad. In the Grhya Sūtras stress is laid on the prohibition of marriage within a Gotra, or with a Sapinda of the mother of the bridegroom—that is to say, roughly, with agnates and cognates. Senart has emphasized this fact as a basis of caste, on the ground that marriage within a curia, phratria, or caste (Varna) was Indo-European, as was marriage outside the circle of agnates and cognates. But there is no evidence at all to prove that this practice was Indo-European, while in India the Satapatha expressly recognizes marriage within the third or fourth degree on either side. According to Sāyana, the Kānvas accepted marriage in the third degree, the Saurāstras only in the fourth, while the scholiast on the Vajrasūcī adds to the Kānvas the Andhras and the Dāksinātyas, and remarks that the Vājasaneyins forbade marriage with the daughter of the mother’s brother. All apparently allowed marriage with the daughter of a paternal uncle, which later was quite excluded. Change of Gotra was quite possible, as in the case of Sunah- śepa and Grtsamada, who, once an Añgirasa, became a Bhārgava.


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