The gotra system is part of a system of classification or identification of various Brahmin families in ancient times. The gotra classification took form probably sometime during the Yajur Veda period, after the Rig Veda period. It is believed that the gotras (now account to a total of 49) started to consolidate some around 10-8 Century B.C. The present day gotra classification is created from a core of 8 rishis (The Saptha rishis + Agastya). The Seven rishis are Gautama, Bhardwaja, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Vasistha, Kashyapa and Atri. Seven Rishis (Saptarshi) are recognized as the mind born sons of the creator Brahma. They desired offspring and received it. All present day Brahmin communities are said to be descendants of these 8 Rishis.
Over the years the number of gotras incresed due to:
* Descendents of these Rishis also started new family lineage or new gotras (Kaundinya was a descendent of Vasihta, Vishwamitra was a descendent of Kaushika and Vatsa was a descendent of Jamadagni)
* By inter marriage with other Brahmins
* Inspired by a saint whose name they bear as their own Gotra.
* New groups like Kshatriyas (who were also makers of hymns) were taken into fold by some Rishis
The lines of descent from the major rishis are originally divided into Ganas [sub divisions] and each Gana is further divided into families. However, subsequently the term gotra is frequently applied to the ganas and to the families within the ganas interchangeably.
These Rishis belonged to different sects like Shakti, Shavites and Vishnavites and had different deities for worship. Such deities came to be known as the Kuladevatas.
Gotras of Gowda Saraswat Brahmins
The gotras of GSBs is believed to be originated from the ten Rishis
Bharadwaj, Kausika, Vatsa, Kaundinya, Kashyapa, Atri, Vashista, Jamadagni, Gautam and Vishwamitra (Kamshi)
Importance of Gotras
The gotra system was instituted for the purposes of identifying one's ancestors and pay respects during various invocations and other rituals to honor their fathers, fore-fathers and so on, up to their respective Rishis. This was later extended to other aspects of the Brahmin life, such as Marriage and temple worship. In present days, marriage will not be allowed within the same gotra in order to avoid impure matrimony. This thinking is in tune with the modern day genetic paradigms of hybrid vigor.
There are 20 Gothras. Each has its own three Rishis, which are referrred to in the Pravaram.I will list the 20 Gothras/Pravaras and illustrate one of the famous Gothras with details .
Gothra & Pravara (Rishayas in parenthesis)
1. Bharadwaja : Aankirasa, Bhaarhaspatya, Bharadwaja
2. Shatamarshana : AAnkirasa, Powrukutsa,Traasatasya
3 .AAtreya : Atreya,Aarchanaasa,Syaavaasva (traya risheya)
4 .Vatula : Bhargava,Vaitahavya,Saavedasa
5 .Srivatsa : Bhargava, Syaavana,AApnavaana,Owrva, Jaamadaghnya (Oppiliappan)
6. Kowsika : Vaiswaamitra, AAgamarshana,Kowsika (traya risheya)
7. Viswamitra : Vaiswaamitra,Devaraata, Owtala
8. Kowndinya : Vaasishta,Maitraavaruna, Kowndinya (traya risheya)
9. Harita : AAnkirasa, Ambarisha,Yuvanasva (traya risheya)
10. Mowdkalya : (1) AAnkiras,Bharmyasva,Mowdgalya
(3) AAnkirsa, Dhavya, Mowdgalya
11. Sandilya : (1) Kasyapa,Aavatsaara,Daivala (traya risheya)
12.Naitruva kaasyapa : Kasyapa,Aavatsara,Naitruva (traya risheya)
13.Kutsa : Aankirasa, Maandhatra,Kowtsa
14.Kanva : (1) Aankirasa, Ajameeda,Kaanva
(2) Aankirasa, Kowra, Kaanva
15.Paraasara : (1) Vaasishta, Saaktya, Paarasarya
16.Aagastya : Aagastya,Tardhachyuta,Sowmavaha
17. Gargi : (1) Aankirasa,Bharhaspatya,Bharadwaja,Sainya,Gargya (traya risheya)
(2) Aangirasa, Sainya, Gaargya (pancharisheya)
18.Bhadarayana : Aankirasa,Paarshadaswa, Raatitara
19.Kasyapa : Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Daivala (traya risheya)
20.Sunkriti : (1) Aankirasa,Kowravidha,Saankritya
Among the 20, based on an analysis of Pravaras, one can see the Aankirasa Rishi appears 12 times including multiple versions. Aankirasa is the Rishi with whom more than half of the Atharva Veda samhitas a re associated. An analysis of the Rishis associated with the Veda Mantras will give info on the other Rishis associated with the twenty Gothras and their lineage.
Sage Kanva is the father of Sakutala celebrated by Kaalidasa. Bhargava referes to the lineage of Bhrigu Maharishi, the foster father of Maha Lakshmi worshipped as Bhargavi. . I will now say afew words about Shatamarshana Gothram. Natha Muni, Aalavandar(Yaamuna Muni) belong to this Gothram.Bharadwaja appears in Raamayanam .
Brahma according to Puranas had 4 sons: Atri, Bhrigu,Vasishta and Ankiras.
Their lines are as follows:
1.Ankiras---) Shatamarshana(Penance in the middle of Five fires at Haridhwar and got the boon that the Sata Vayu will not affect him . Similar to the case of Satakopan(Nammalwar later).His predecessors, Purukutsar and Traasa Dasyu were authorities on Rig Vedam.Tras is made up of 3 Kinds of fear .Since these htree kinds of fear ran away fro him out of fear for his Power derived from penance, He is called Trasa Dhasyu. All the three Rishis (Ankiras, Purukutsar,Trsadasyu) are thus included in the Pravaram of Shatamarshana Gothris.
2.Bhrigu---) Valmiki and Sri Vatsa Gothram
3. Atri---) Dattatreya---) Atreya Gothram---) Atreya Ramanujar and links to Vedanta Desikan 4.Vasishta---) Sakti, Paraasara,Vyasa.(Paraasara is the author of Vishnu Puranam and Vysaa , the author of Brahma Sutrams and Puraanas.
It is believed that every Braahmanan family has descended from one ancestral Maharshi (great seer or sage) or the other, in whose name his Gothram is attached. There are different versions in the Smrthis as to the number of Gothrams - 7, 8, 10, and so on, upto 48. "Manusmrthi" quotes 8, while "Dharma Pradeepam" speakes of 48. The famous "Dasagothrams" (ten Gothrams) are :
4. Kaundinyam, 5. Kaasyapam,
7. Jaamadagnyam, 8. Vaiswaamithram,
9. Gauthamam, and
"Vishnu Bhaagavatham" has reference to the following set of seven sages (Saptharshis) :
3. Angirass, 4. Pulasthyan,
5. Pulahan, 6. Krathu, and
Several among the Saptharshis referred to in "Manusmrthi" as Swayambhuva Manu's progeny and ancestors are said to be creators of Rigveda Sookthams. The Saptharshis of the present Vaivaswatha Manwantharam are :
3. Athri, 4. Jamadagni,
5. Gauthaman, 6. Viswaamithran, and
The Chiranjeevis (those who live eternally) who are said to have become eligible to be the next set of Saptharshis are :
Formal Introduction of Brahmins
Amongst Brahmins, here is a typical introduction of oneself in Sanskrit with the listing
of ancestry (Bending over in obeisance with thumbs behind ears,
abhivadaye Aankirasa, Bhaarhaspatya, Bharadwaja traya risheya
Pravaranvita Bharadwaja Gothrotha apastamasutrah
yadushyaakadyaayai ...........sarmanam aham asmobho
I, who belong to the lineage of the three sages Aankirasa, Bhaarhaspatya, Bharadwaja and
of Bharadwaja gotra, a student of the grihastha branch of life, offer my salutations to you.
Abhivadaye (tell your rishis) (tell number) Risheya
(tell your pravara) pravaranvitha
(tell your Gothra)gothra
(tell your Suthra)suthra
(tell your Veda)adhyay1
Sri (tell your name) sarmanam aham asmibho