Gotra; 16 Definition(s)


Gotra means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

Gotra (गोत्र).—lit. family. The word is used by Panini in the technical sense of a descendant except the son or a daughter; cf. अपत्यं पौत्रप्रभृति गोत्रम् (apatyaṃ pautraprabhṛti gotram) P. IV. 1.162. The word गोत्रापत्य (gotrāpatya) is also used in the same sense. The affix, which is found many times in the sense of gotra, barring the usual अण् (aṇ), is यञ् (yañ) ; cf. गर्गादिभ्यो यञ् (gargādibhyo yañ) P. IV. 1.105.

Source: Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
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Vyakarana (व्याकरण, vyākaraṇa) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyakarana concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Gotra (गोत्र).—A son of Vasiṣṭha. Vasiṣṭha had of his wife Ūrjjā seven sons named Rajas, Gotra, Ūrddhvabāhu, Savana, Anagha, Sutapas and Śukra. These holy men were saptarṣis in the third Manvantara. (Chapter 1, Viṣṇu Purāṇa).

Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia

Gotra (गोत्र).—A son of Ūrjā and Vasiṣṭha.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 10. 13.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology)

Gotra (गोत्र).—Among Brāhmaṇas, a lineage tracing its descent to one of the legendary sages of Hinduism. Note: Gotra is a Sanskrit technical term used in ancient Indian sciences such as Astronomy, Mathematics and Geometry.

Source: Wikibooks (hi): Sanskrit Technical Terms
Jyotisha book cover
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Jyotisha (ज्योतिष, jyotiṣa or jyotish) refers to ‘astronomy’ or “Vedic astrology” and represents the fifth of the six Vedangas (additional sciences to be studied along with the Vedas). Jyotisha concerns itself with the study and prediction of the movements of celestial bodies, in order to calculate the auspicious time for rituals and ceremonies.

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Ayurveda (science of life)

1) Gotrā (गोत्रा) refers to “earth” and is mentioned in a list of 53 synonyms for dharaṇi (“earth”), according to the second chapter (dharaṇyādi-varga) of the 13th-century Raj Nighantu or Rājanighaṇṭu (an Ayurvedic encyclopedia). The Dharaṇyādi-varga covers the lands, soil [viz., Gotrā], mountains, jungles and vegetation’s relations between trees and plants and substances, with their various kinds.

2) Gotrā (गोत्रा) is also synonymous with Mountain (śaila) as mentioned in a list of 24 such synonyms according to the second chapter (dharaṇyādi-varga) of the 13th-century Raj Nighantu or Rājanighaṇṭu (an Ayurvedic encyclopedia).

Source: Wisdom Library: Raj Nighantu
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

In Hindu society, the term gotra means clan. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor or patriline. Gotra can be used as surname but it is different from surname and is strictly maintained because of its importance in marriages among Hindus and especially among high Hindu-castes.

Pāṇini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram (IV. 1. 162), 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.

According to the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad 2.2.6, Gautama and Bharadvāja, Viśvāmitra and Jamadagni, Vashishtha and Kaśhyapa, and Atri are seven sages (also known as Saptarishi); the progeny of these eight sages is declared to be gotras. This enumeration of eight primary gotras seems to have been known to Pāṇini. The offspring (apatya) of these eight are gotras and others than these are called gotrâvayava.

As a Rigvedic term, gotra simply means "cow shelter" and more generally "stable, enclosure". The narrowed meaning "family, lineage kin" (as it were "herd within an enclosure") is younger, first recorded around the mid 1st millennium BCE (e.g., Chandogya Upanishad). These "lineages" as they developed during that time meant patri-lineal descent among Brahmins (the Brahmin gotra system), warriors and administrators in Kshatriyas and ancestral tradesmen in Vaisyas.

There exists another theory about gotra: sons of rishi and disciples of the gurukul would have same gotra. It is believed that they possess similar thought and philosophy. People of same gotra can be found in different castes.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Gotra (गोत्र) or Gotrabhūmi refers to “ground of the spiritual lineage” and represents one of the ten grounds (bhūmi) shared by adepts of the three vehicles according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter 52.—Gotra-bhūmi (rigs kyi sa, sing or tchong sing) is one of the ten grounds shared by adepts of the three Vehicles (sādhāraṇabhūmi). The śrāvaka [conquers the four nirvedhabhāgīya kuśalamūla, roots of good leading to penetration of the noble truths], from heat (uṣmagata) up to the supreme worldly dharmas (laukikāgradharma). The Bodhisattva, however, obtains the preparatory conviction (anulomikī kṣānti) [during the shared ground no. 6, Abhimukhī]; he is attached to the true nature of dharmas (dharmāṇāṃ dharmatā), no longer produces any wrong views (mithyādṛṣṭi) and obtains the water of the dhyāna-samāpattis.

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Gotra (गोत्र, “status”) or Gotrakarma refers to one of the eight types of karma, according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 2.1.—What is the meaning of status-determining (gotra) karma? The karmas which determine the status of a living being compared to other living beings in the same realm.

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 2: the Category of the living

Gotra (गोत्र) or Gotrakarma refers to “status-determining” and represents one of the eight types of Prakṛti-bandha (species bondage): one of the four kinds of bondage (bandha) according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra chapter 8.—Accordingly, “what is meant by status determining karma (gotra)? The karmas which determine the high or low status family of the living beings in the same realm is called status determining karma... The karmas rise of which determine’s the birth in a particular family (heredity attribute) in the same realm is called status determining karma”.

There are two types of status determining karmas (gotra):

  1. high status (ucca-gotra),
  2. low status (nīca-gotra).

Who can have both high and low status? The human beings of the region of labour (Karmabhūmi) can have both high and low status.

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 8: Bondage of karmas
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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India history and geogprahy

Gotra (गोत्र) is traditionally understood to connote a brahman family’s affiliation to one or another particular ancient sage (ṛṣi). This is not translatable into a succinct English expression.

Source: Eknāth Remembered and Reformed

Gotra.—(CII 3; IA 19; CITD), a family or clan, a tribe or lineage; a caste. No Hindu can marry a girl of his own gotra or stock, though some forms of ancient Indian marriages did not involve the gotra-antara, i. e. the change of the wife's gotra to that of the husband at the time of marriage (Proc. IHC, Annamalainagar, 1945, pp. 48 ff.). Cf. Gautamī-putra, etc. (EI 33), abbreviation of gotra-śailikā, a memorial pillar raised for the dead members of one's family. Note: gotra is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary
India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

gōtra (गोत्र).—n (S) Family, race, lineage, kin. 2 m The founder of a race. gōtra utaraṇēṃ-jamaṇēṃ-yēṇēṃ To be suitable for the formation of affinity;--said of families or a family when intermarriage is contemplated. gōtra miḷaṇēṃ To confederate or combine. 2 To mingle or mix gen. gōtra lāgaṇēṃ in. con. To hold relation unto. gōtrīṃ lāgaṇēṃ To get into a family by adoption. 2 fig. To become addicted to. See nādīṃ lāgaṇēṃ. 3 To fall within the province or sphere of--a business. Some compounds are gōtravadha, gōtrahatyā, gōtra- sambandha, gōtravicāra, gōtraghaṭita.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

gotra (गोत्र).—n Family, race, lineage, kin. gōtra jamaṇēṃ To be suitable for the formation of affinity. To confederate or combine. gōtravadha Internecine slaughter. gōtrakuṭhāra A foe to one's own kinsmen. gōtrapurūṣa- -bandhu m A kinsman, cognate, kin.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Gotra (गोत्र).—[gāṃ bhūmiṃ trāyate trai-ka]

1) a cow-pen.

2) a stable in general.

3) a family, race, lineage; गोत्रेण माठरोऽस्मि (gotreṇa māṭharo'smi) Sk.; so कौशिकगोत्राः, वसिष्ठगोत्राः (kauśikagotrāḥ, vasiṣṭhagotrāḥ) &c.; Ms.3.19,9.141.

4) a name, appellation; जगाद गोत्र- स्खलिते च का न तम् (jagāda gotra- skhalite ca kā na tam) N.1.3; Ś.6.5; see °स्खलित (skhalita) below; मद्गोत्राङ्कं विरचितपदं गेयमुद्गातुकामा (madgotrāṅkaṃ viracitapadaṃ geyamudgātukāmā) Me.88.

5) a multitude.

6) increase.

7) a forest.

8) a field.

9) a road.

1) possessions, wealth.

11) an umbrella, a parasol.

12) knowledge of futurity.

13) a genus, class, species.

14) a caste, tribe, caste according to families.

-traḥ a mountain; 'गोत्रं नाम्नि कुलेऽप्यद्रौ (gotraṃ nāmni kule'pyadrau)' इति यादवः (iti yādavaḥ); Śi.9.8. Hence गोत्रोद्दलनः (gotroddalanaḥ) means Indra; cf. इन्द्रे तु गोत्रोद्दलनः कुलघ्ने गिरिदारणे (indre tu gotroddalanaḥ kulaghne giridāraṇe) Nm. (-trā) 1 a multitude of cows.

Derivable forms: gotram (गोत्रम्).

Gotra is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms go and tra (त्र).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Gotra (गोत्र).—m. and nt. (in Sanskrit only nt., and not in these mgs.; Pali Dictt. also fail to record these mgs. except in cpd. gotrabhū, q.v.; but Pali gotta seems clearly used in meaning 1, below, in Vism. i.138.4—5, in definition of gotrabhū: tam parittagottābhibhavanato mahaggatagottabhāvanato ca gotrabhū ti pi vuccati; note how Pali here associates the Sktized gotra-bhū with the MIndic gotta! contrast Lévi's note on Sūtrāl. iii.1), (1) lit. family, but in special technical sense of religious group or communion: pañca- gotrāḥ Mvy 1260, listed 1261—5 śrāvaka-yānābhisamaya- gotraḥ, pratyekabuddha-yānā°, tathāgata-yānā°, aniyata- gotraḥ, a-gotraḥ; same five, with -gotraṃ, nt., Laṅk 63.2—5 (pañcābhisamaya-gotrāṇi); for the fourth, aniya- taikatara-gotram, 63.4; in the sequel Laṅk explains at length the first three; aniyata-, le gotra qui n'est pas définitif, Lévi, Sūtrāl. iii.1, note, is briefly treated in Laṅk 65.2 f., aniyata-gotrakaḥ punar…triṣv apy eteṣu deśya- māneṣu yatrānunīyate tatrānuyojyaḥ syāt; apparently this is the class of people who may be drawn to whichever of the three yānas happens to be presented. The a-gotra is not explained but evidently means people outside of any Buddhist communion; in this sense understand gotrāgotraṃ kathaṃ Laṅk 25.2, (religious) family and lack of it (dvandva cpd.). Only the first three gotras are listed AbhidhK. LaV-P. vi.175; similarly Bbh 223.5—6 contrasts śrāvaka-pratyekabuddha-gotrāṃ (acc. pl.) with tathāgata-gotrān. In KP 102.9; 103.1, 8 āryāṇāṃ gotraṃ is described as a state in which all normal conditions and activities are at an end, and in 104.1—2 (continuation of the same) it is said, anulomaṃ tad gotraṃ nirvāṇasya. The relation of this to the three or five gotras is not quite clear. In the question, kena pravartitā gotrāḥ suvarṇa- maṇimuktajāḥ Laṅk 26.3, gotra is probably used in this same sense, but the adj., sprung from gold, gems, and pearls, is obscure in application; one is tempted to see an allusion (metaphorically) to the next meaning, compare especially suvarṇa- gotra-vat Sūtrāl. iii.9 and suratna-gotra-vat 10, with Lévi's note; but producing gold etc., which one would expect, seems philologically impossible; (2) mine, of gems or ores: Sūtrāl. iii.9, 10, above; sarvaratnasaṃbhavotpatti- gotrākaramūlyajñāneṣu Gv 451.2; dhātu-gotrāṇi, mines of ores (metals), °ṇi yaṃ paktvā suvarṇa-rūpya-vaiḍūryāṇy (°vaid°) abhinivartante Divy 111.20, and (°ūrya-sphaṭi- kāny°) 111.28—29, 112.12—13; catvāro dhātu-gotrāḥ pradarśitāḥ MSV i.106.16; (3) like Sanskrit ākara, also origin: nikāyagati-gotrā ye Laṅk 292.16, paraphrasing nikāyagati saṃbhavāt (labhyante) 292.13; basis, source, cause, seea Bbh 2.25 punar etad gotram ādhāra ity ucyate, upastambho hetur niśraya upaniṣat pūrvaṃgamo nilaya ity ucyate… (3.1 gotraṃ dvividhaṃ, prakṛtisthaṃ samudānītaṃ ca, natural and acquired…); 3.6 f. tat punar gotraṃ bījam ity apy ucyate, dhātuḥ prakṛtir ity api (compare gotra = bīja, hetu, AbhidhK. LaV—P. vii.49); (4) probably as special development of prec., kind, class, category (like Sanskrit jāti, of similar origin and lit. meaning): nānāratna-gotra-puṣpaprati- maṇḍite Laṅk 1.7, adorned with flowers (made of) various kinds of jewels; so probably vijñapti-gotra-saṃchannam Laṅk 269.12, covered by (various) classes of relative (worldly, practical) knowledge (see vijñapti).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Gotra (गोत्र).—n.

(-traṃ) 1. Family, race, lineage, kin. 2. A name, an appellation. 3. A forest. 4. A field. 5. A Ch'hattra, an umbrella or parasol. 6. A road. 7. Knowledge of futurity, inspiration. 8. A genus, a class or species 9. A caste, a tribe or subdivision of it into families, as in that of the Brahman; twenty-four Gotras are reckoned, supposed to be sprung from and named after celebrated teachers, as Sandilya, Kasyapa, Gautama, Bharadwaja, &c. 10. Increase. 11. Wealth. f.

(-trā) 1. The earth. 2. A herd of kine. m.

(-traḥ) A mountain. E. gu to sound, and tra Unadi affix, or go the earth, &c. and tra what preserves, from trai with ka aff. gāṃ bhūmiṃ trāyate traiṅ pālane ka .

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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