About the Gotras



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The origin

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.

Gotras, Surnames and Kuladevatas

The gotra is also interlinked with the Surnames and the Kuladevatas. An illustrative list is given below:

MAHALASA  NARAYANI Bharadwaja Gothram  - Pai
Athri Gothram - Pai
Kaushika  Gothram - Pai
Gargya Gothram - Shenoy
Gargya Gothram - Kamath
Gargya Gothram - Bhat
Kaushika Gothram - Bhaktha
Athri Gothram - Bhat
Vatsa Gothram - Baliga
Koundinya Gothram - Shenoy
Koundinya Gothram -Nayak
Koundinya Gothram - Pai
Koundinya Gothram - Bhat
Vatsa Gothram - Bhat
Koundinya Gothram - Kini



Kaushika Gothram - Prabhu
Kaushika Gothram - Kamath
Kashyap Gothram - Hegde
Kashyap Gothram - Baliga
NAGESH  MAHALAKSHMI Bharadwaja Gothram - Prabhu
Vatsa Gothram - Mallya
Koushika Gothram - Nayak
KARTHYAYANI  BANESHWAR Koushika Gothram  - Shenoy
Kashyapa Gothram - Prabhu
NARASIMHA SHANTHADURGA VIJAYA DURGA Shankha Pingala Kounsa Gothram - Nayak
Shankha Pingala Kounsa Gothram - Padiyar
Shankha Pingala Kounsa Gothram - Bhandarakar
MAHAMAYA Kondinaya Gothram - Kamath