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Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Great Sages of India ..... Part 4

2. Pravara & Gotra:
One of the important questions to ask is how are we related to these Rishis? Are they relevant any more? If we were to be told that we are none other than one of the descendants to those great maharishis and not a lowly evil soul in this earth, would it not sound good and elevating? Actually all of us are.

Hindus when they fall on elders feet they are supposed to tell their Pravara, Gotra, Sutra and Sarma as a part of Abhivadaye, and this tracks their lineage. This needs to be told in every vedic ritual the individual performs. I am going to explain to the extent i understand and please validate this with someone more knowledge.

1. Pravara - Typically the person names 3 or 5 or 7 Rishis who lived in the remotest past and we form the lineage of those sages. There are only 49 Pravaras.
2. Gotra - This is the latest ancestor of a person whose name is associated with a lineage and is known for generations. Gotras are innumerable and are related Pravara. It is told that Gotras are based on 7 great sages and the details what i know are given below.
3. Sarma - Is the individual's name.

So typically Gotras and Pravaras should throw up an unique family or a DNA trait just like blood groups, but i don't think we are interested in that type of a research, because the education system we underwent or our current society does not encourage that type of study. Marriage within same Gotras are to be avoided as per the customs and I am not sure if there are any medical reasons which are validated. But this is what Khaps in north India are fighting for. There is a article i read that Gotras are all about the identity of the Y Chromosomes but have not seen any concrete study explaining that.

3. Our Obligation:
It is told that every individual who is born in this world are obligated and comes with debts to three people they are 1. Debt to Rishis (Sages) 2. Debt to Devas (Demigods) 3. Debt to Pitrus (Ancestors).

An individual pays back the debt to Rishis by gaining wisdom through learning vedas. But currently we are neither learning vedas nor know the ones who gave us this.

I am making a small attempt to highlight them to the extent i understand. This is neither authoritative nor comprehensive and should be viewed as a trigger to learn more.

There are 2 questions which i am prompting for you:

1. Is there a comprehensive study done on Gotras and Pravaras which i can go through?
You can try here. I like this site on their quality of work..

2. In the current way of life, why should we be bothered about all these Gotras or Pravaras which we don't understand clearly?
I can answer this in 2 parts. Per my introduction article there is a global recognition for our ancient and glorious past. You may say that I would take Yoga, Astronomy and science but leave out Yajnas, rituals, Dharmic rules etc. But I believe its a package and everything is part of the unified whole and cannot be separated. Its like means and ends. One without other is incomplete. So, what is invaluable cannot be lost, hence we need to learn this and preserve what we have.

For the second part of this answer, i wanted to quote Kanchi Periava, which registered with me very well. When someone asked him, why should we keep reciting slokas and mantras without understanding their full meaning for which Periava replied, A sloka like "Vinayagar Agaval" is a box of very high value diamonds and valuable gems inside but whose key is not available with you today. If you preserve the box, you can still avail those gems when you get the keys, but if you discard that box today, then you have lost it forever. So when sages have given us the wisdom and asked us to propitiate devas through Yagnas for a prosperous life, the attempt should be to understand the science behind or least we stick to it even if we don't understand the meaning.

I would like to add that it is our duty to pass on the knowledge in the same measure or in excess than what has been bequeathed to us from our parents. Strongly put, In the chain of generations, we don't have any right to decide what (part of vedic knowledge) to pass on and what to destroy and it becomes our responsibility to preserve the extent possible the wisdom that has come about for millions of years.

Happy reading!

7 Prime sages and Gotras:
1. Bhargava Ganam has 7 Gotras under Sage Bhrigu.
2. Angiras Ganam has 3 primary Gotras and 20 sub divisions under Sage Angiras
3. Athreya Ganam has 4 Gotras under Sage Atri
4. Vaishvamitra Ganam has 10 Gotras under Sage Vishvamitrar.
5. Kaashyapa Ganam has 5 Gotras under Sage Kashyapar
6. Vaashishta Ganam has 5 Gotras under Sage Vashishtar.
7. Agasthiya Ganam has 4 Gotras under Sage Agasthyar.

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