[Advaita-l] Fw :Pourakutsa gotra abhivadya (fwd) (Jaldhar H. Vyas)

Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com
Wed Aug 20 14:14:47 CDT 2008

>While discussing on "Gotras" would someone help me
>understand why a woman's gotra is told to be changed
>to her husband's gotra (and surname) after marriage?
>It is side-tracking the actual topic but I'm in anveshana
>and would really appreciate anyone's kind thoughts.
>This is not a feministic perspective...I'm just a curious learner.

The reason for this is mostly legal, e.g. for deciding questions
of inheritance, and ritual, e.g. for death related ceremonies. A
gotra is to be understood as a clan. Typically, a marriage
Between two members of the same clan is not allowed, but
inheritance of name and property stays within the clan. As most
Human communities are patrilineal and patriarchical in nature,
The marriage event formalizes the transfer of the bride to her
husband's clan. After marriage, a woman is identified with her
husband's clan rather than her father's clan. All children born to
the couple then belong to the father's gotra, can inherit his
property and can perform the funeral and annual SrAddha rituals
for their parents.

Usually, this also correlates with the fact that the newly married
wife moves away to her husband's home. Similarly, when a child
is given away in adoption, his or her gotra changes to that of the
adoptive parents. The child goes to live with the adoptive parents,
no longer belongs to the gotra of its biological parents and has no
more rights to the property of the biological father. Instead, the
child stands to inherit the property of the adoptive father.

Within a patrilineal community, an exception occurs when the father
of the bride stipulates otherwise before the marriage. Traditionally,
this happened when a man only had a daughter and no sons. He
would then arrange with a future son-in-law that the grandson would
inherit his gotra and property. In this case, a male child would belong
to his maternal grandfather's gotra and not to his own father's gotra.
When the maternal grandfather died, this grandson would then be
eligible to perform the funeral and annual SrAddha-s. This situation is
rare, but there are many known and well-documented instances.

There are, of course, matrilineal communities too, e.g. the Nairs in
Kerala and many hill tribes in north-east India. In these cases, the
inheritance rules are exactly reversed. The children belong to the
mother's clan (called tharavAD in the case of Nairs), inherit and
observe death related mourning and rituals accordingly. Thus, a
Nair man's funeral is performed not by his own son, but by his
sister's son. This is because his sister's son belongs to his own
tharavAD, but his own son would belong to his wife's tharavAD.
Also, his share of property passes to his sister's children and not
to his own children. The Nair woman's funeral, however, is performed
by her own son, because her son belongs to her own tharavAD. Her
property also is inherited by her own children.


ps. shaTamarshana, paurukutsa and vishNuvRddha are the same
gotra practically, as they have the same pravara. They can be
considered to be different names for the same gotra. There may be 
variations in the name and/or order of Rshi-s according to local or 
family custom, but that is of lesser consequence.

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