Y Chromosome & Male Lineage, Genetics behind Hindu Gotra System


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Y chromosome hindu gotra system
n 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.
However, all families having same gotra need not be cousins.

They can be descendants of sons or disciples or even adopted sons of the Rishi(Seer), who is the root and whose name is used as Gotra.
For example if a person says that he belongs to the Kutsa Gotra then it means that he traces back his male ancestry to the ancient Rishi (Saint or Seer) Kutsa.
Gotra means cowshed (Go=Cow, tra=shed) in Sanskrit. 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.
This system was started among Brahmins, with a purpose to classify and identify the families in the community.
Hindu Brahmins identify their male lineage by considering themselves to be the descendants of the 8 great Rishis i.e Saptarishis (The Seven Sacred Saints) + Bharadwaja Rishi. So the list of root Brahmin Gotras is as follows :
  • Angirasa
  • Atri
  • Gautam
  • Kashyapa
  • Bhrigu
  • Vasistha
  • Kutsa
  • Bharadwaja
The offspring (apatya) of these eight are gotras and others than these are called ‘ gotrâvayava ‘.
These eight sages are called gotrakarins from whom all the 49 gotras (especially of the Brahmins) have evolved. For instance, from Atri sprang the Atreya and Gavisthiras gotras.
In almost all Hindu families, marriage within the same gotra is prohibited, since people with same gotra are considered to be siblings.
But the hidden reason behind this practice is the ‘Y Chromosome‘ which is expected to be common among all male in same gotra. So, the woman too carries similar X Chromosome and if married, their offspring may be born with birth defects.
Few families even maintain their Pravara which is a list of all seers through which their Gotra was derived.
It connects to the root Seer.

Gotra is always passed on from father to children among most Hindus, just like lastname(surname) is passed on worldwide. However, among Malayalis and Tulu’s its passed on from mother to children.
Additional rule in the Gotra system is that, even if the Bride and Bridegroom belong to different Gotras, they still cannot get married even if just one of their Gotra Pravara matches.