The concept of Gotra was the first attempt among Brahmins to classify themselves among different groups. At the beginning, these gentes identified themselves by the names of eight rishis (Atri, Bharadwaja, Gautam, Jamadagni, Kashyapa, Vasishtha, Vishwamitra, and Agastya or Bhrigu; the first seven of these are often enumerated as Saptarishis). It is to be noted that Vishwamitra was initially a Kshatriya king, who later chose and rose to become an ascetic rishi. Hence the gotra was applied to the grouping stemming from one of these rishis as his descendants.

Many lines of descent from the major rishis were later grouped separately. Accordingly, the major gotras were divided into ganas (subdivisions) and each gana was further divided into groups of families. The term gotra was then frequently started being applied to the ganas and to the sub-ganas.

Every brahmin claims to be a direct patrilenial descendant of one of the founding rishis of a certain gana or sub-gana. It is the gana or sub-gana that is now commonly referred to as gotra.

The word "gotra" means "lineage" in the Sanskrit language. Among those of the Brahmin caste, gotras are reckoned patrilineally. Each gotra takes the name of a famous Rishi or sage who was the patrilineal forebearer of that clan. And each Gotra is addressed by the suffix 'sa' or 'asa' as relevant.


The following is a partial list of gotras found in the Brahmin community of Hindus:

* Atreya
* Alambani
* Angirasa
* Bharadvaja
* Bhargava
* Charora
* Chikitasa
* Darbhas
* Dhananjaya
* Galvasaya
* Gautam
* Gargheyasa
* Gaubhilya
* Haritasa
* Jamadagni
* Kapi
* Kaushika
* Kashyapa
* Kaundinya
* Kaunsh
* Katyayana
* Lohitasa
* Lomasha
* Mandavya
* Mauna Bhargava
* Mudgala (Maudgalya, Moudgil, Modgil)
* Mudgal


* Nrisimhadevara
* Parashara
* Sangar
* Sankrithi
* Sankyanasa
* Sathamarshana
* Shandilya
* Somnasser
* Srivatsa
* Sumarkanth
* Upamanyu
* Vadula
* Vashishta
* Vatsa
* Veetahavya
* Viswamitra
* Yaska


Although people belonging to the same gotra are, in theory, related to each other patrilineally, and belong to the same Brahmin caste, there may be very little else in common between them. The fact that people belong to a certain gotra says nothing about their domicile, original place of residence, mother tongue or family occupation. It also says nothing about what Vedic Shakha a specific family belongs to.

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