More than 400 Gothras and their Pravara Rishis
(I understand a young boy after upanayanam went to meet Head of Sringeri Mutt recently with his father. When the chanted “Abhivadaye”, the swamiji asked him for his pravara .He said, he does not know .Then the SWamiji asked his father for his pravara.To his shock , even the father did not know..)
Gothras among Brahmins is considered as a patrilineal lineage.
It is believed that all Gothras among Brahmins originate from Seven sages viz.
The entire population of Brahmins according to our present belief is the paternal progeny of their sons .The Word Gothra means “A place where cows are tied” . It is well known that the wealth of people in the Vedic period was measured by the cows that were possessed by him. So there is a theory that these great sages used to maintain huge number of cattle in their hermitages and had large number of people in their hermitages to assist them. So possibly the Gothras that we refer may be the families of all the people living in the hermitage of a great saint .(It is interesting to note that there are Pravara(most eminent) rishis ,Different Gothras have 1-5 pravara rishis associated with them,) The need for this type of thinking is because as at present same Gothra people follow several Vedas , Several Grihya Suthras , belong to several sub castes and several regions in India . Apart from that the population of people belonging to different Gothras vary widely. For example among Tamil Brahmins the number of people following the Bharadwaja Gothra are about 25% of the population and the people belonging to Agasthya gothra is very less .Another important fact is that There is a kaushika Gothra and a Viswamithra Gothra. The sages indicated by these name is the same sage .I have read some where that Kaushika Gothra was started by the sage when he was a Kshatriya and Viswamithra Gothra was started after he became a Brahmin.Still more perplexing thing is that Lord Hanuman according to a prayer addressed to him belongs to Kaundinya Gothra though nowhere it is mentioned that he is a Brahimn by birth. Ravana is the son of a sage is born to a sage and Rakshasi and I have not come across any Gothra for him.
IT is interesting to note that “In the court case Madhavrao vs Raghavendrarao which involved a Deshastha Brahmin couple, the definition of gotra as descending from eight sages and then branching out to several families was thrown out by the Bombay High Court. The court called the idea of Brahmin families descending from an unbroken line of common ancestors as indicated by the names of their respective gothras "impossible to accept." The court consulted relevant Hindu texts and stressed the need for Hindu society and law to keep up with the times, emphasizing that notions of good social behavior and the general ideology of the Hindu society had changed. The court also said that the mass of material in the Hindu texts is so vast and full of contradictions that it is almost an impossible task to reduce it to order and coherence.”
Number of more than 400 Brahmin gothras along with Pravara Rishis
Wikipedia on list of Gothras mentions that there are 46 Gothras among Brahmins.Familypedia gives a list of 136 Gothras, Sri Ramanan has compiled names of about 56 gothras m The world library gives a list of 100 gothras and I have come across a list of 51 Gothras earlier.
So I was taken aback to see in a book in tamil published by Smt.Uma Hariharan, which has been approved by Kanchi Kamakoti mutt , a list of 421 Gothras . The list is classified as
1.Gothras with one Pravara rishi 19
2, Gothras with two pravara rishis 15
3, Gothras with three pravara rishis 313
4.Digothras with three pravara rishis 23
4.Gothras with five pravara rishis 51
In this list there are several Gothras which are repeated several times with different Pravaras and some gothras are repeated in different of these classes also I am giving the complete list as given in the book and you can see them all in