Gotram, Sutram, Veda

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Fri Nov 8 15:01:33 CST 2002

On Thu, 7 Nov 2002, Srikrishna Ghadiyaram wrote:

> Do we need to know/tell Sutra for offering puja in a
> temple ?

Generally when you formally recite your name (abhivandana) you should
mention the sutra too.  I don't know if it is relevant to the worship of
Bhagavan Jagannathaji but I thought I'd mention it just in case.

> What is the origin, meaning, purpose, and practical
> aspects of Gotram, Sutra, and Veda pertaining to an
> individual ?
> Also when we say Sutra, does it refer to Srauta Sutra
> or Gruhya Sutra ? Is there a one-to-one correspondence
> between Gotra and Sutra ? What is the basis of
> assigning/following one specific Sutra by an
> individual ?

The article by Shri Sadagopan you mentioned has hopefully answered most of
your questions so I'll only add a little more.

Gotra is the Vedic Rshi you are descended from.  However many non-Brahman
castes also have a gotra system so this cannot literally be true.  E.g.
Siddhartha the Buddha was a Kshatriya of Shakya jati who belonged to
Gautama gotra.  And even amongst Brahmans there is some vagueness.  for
instance our jati are called Vallam Brahmans supposedly descended from
Rshi Valmiki but our gotra is Bharadwaja.  My mothers side are Raikvad
Brahmans descended from Rshi Raikva mentioned in chandogyopanishad but
their gotra is Kaushika.

Perhaps in some cases families adopted  the gotra of their
Practically the only relevance of gotras is you cannot marry someone who
belongs to the same one as you.

There are 8 mula gotras -- those of the saptarshis and Rshi Agastya.  But
the descendents of some of those Rshis are also ancestors of gotras and
they are called pravara Rshis.  One can have 1 (if he belongs to a mula
gotra,) 3, or 5 pravars.  E.g. for Bharadvaja gotra there are 3 pravaras,
Bharadvaja, Brhaspati, and Angirasa and the names of all three should be
recited during abhivandana.

shakha is the branch of the Veda a Brahman family has the responsibility
to learn.  Because the entire corpus of the Veda was too voluminous for
the inferior minds of the Kaliyuga to handle, Maharshi Vedavyasa divided
them into 4 and taught them to his pupils who then taught their pupils and
so on.  But surnames such as Dvivedi (or Dave or Dube,) Trivedi, and
Chaturvedi, show that even in later times there were some who mastered 2,
3 or even all 4 Vedas.

Swami Chandrashekhara Bharati goes into a good deal of detail on these
subjects in his book, "The Vedas"

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list