Welcome to Indian Castes Information

Home Page

In Hindu society, the term gotra (Sanskrit: गोत्र) means clan. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor or patriline. Generally the gotra forms an exogamous unit, with the marriage within the same gotra being prohibited by custom, being regarded as incest. The name of the gotra can be used as a surname, but it is different from a surname and is strictly maintained because of its importance in marriages among Hindus, especially among the higher castes.Pāṇini defines "gotra" for grammatical purposes as apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram, which means "the word gotra denotes the progeny (of a sage) beginning with the son's son." When a person says "I am Kashyapa-gotra," he means that he traces his descent from the ancient sage Kashyapa by unbroken male descent. Among non-Brahmins, the gotras generally do not go back to sages, except in case of some communities such as Rajputs.

According to the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad, Gautama and Bharadvāja, Viśvāmitra and Jamadagni, Vashishtha and Kaśhyapa and Shandilya are seven sages (also known as Saptarishi); the progeny of these seven sages is declared to be gotras. This enumeration of seven primary gotras seems to have been known to Pāṇini. The offspring (apatya) of these seven are gotras and others than these are called gotrâvayava.

There exists another theory about gotra: sons and disciples of a sage would have the same gotra; it is believed that they possess similar thought and philosophy. People of the same gotra can be found across different castes. Each Gotra comprises pravaras.

States in India

  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Andhra Pradesh
  • Arunachal Pradesh
  • Assam
  • Bihar
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Dadra and Nagar Haveli
  • Daman and Diu
  • Delhi
  • Goa
  • Gujarat
  • Haryana
  • Himachal Pradesh
  • Jammu and Kashmir
  • Jharkhand
  • Karnataka
  • Kerala
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Maharashtra
  • Manipur
  • Meghalaya
  • Mizoram
  • Nagaland
  • Odisha
  • Puducherry
  • Punjab
  • Rajasthan
  • Sikkim
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Telangana
  • Tripura
  • Uttar Pradesh
  • Uttarakhand
  • West Bengal