Genetics in Hindu Marriage


The Role of Gotra in Match Making

A time when the scientific community was yet to discover genetics and genetically transmitted illnesses, Vedic Seers and Rishis devised a system or technique. This technique was and is known as Gotra matching. This is done even before another technique or Guna Milap is done. Guna Milap is a technique which on a very layman’s scale, puts match between prospective match in numeric’s. We will go into those details later. Sadly, this is now commonly deployed as the first step, whereas this is what is generally explained to parents of prospective match. General public is NOT expected to go into details of knowing vedic horoscope and its methodology of interpretation.


Gotra in simple terms means lineage. There is no documentary proof available how these lineages came into existence. It is believed that all of humanity, if analyzed back in time, leads to the Sapta Rishis or Seven Sages who brought humanity into existence. Thereafter several other sages too were instrumental in starting their own lineages. As of today about 300 Gotra’s are in existence. A Hindu household is supposed to know their Gotra, because this information is used in all important ceremonies, one of them is marriage. We are in Shraddh Paksh these days, a time when all Hindu household’s pray for their dear departed ancestors. During this ceremony of praying and donating in memory of dear departed ancestors, one is expected to know one’s Gotra. The priest attending the ritual ceremony will ask for Gotra and then proceed with invoking the entire lineage to be present (as witness) while the ceremony is being conducted.

The Gotra list is incomplete, much of this data is available with Panda’s or the keeper of records where generations of Hindu’s share their family data. For Hindu’s up north, these Record Keepers are in Kashi! There are several regional record keepers and one usually visits the one which has the ancestral data in his possession. It is an elaborate process where these record keepers hand over generations of data to their kith and kin. So, if one is patient enough, one can trace one’s lineage – maybe 25 generations back in time!

Coming back to Gotra, as far as marriage is concerned, a boy and girl having the same Gotra cannot marry! This is where the process stops at the first step, no further process is done. There are Patriarchal families and then there are Matriarchal families. Both of these have different rule on who inherits the Gotra. Allow me to explain – in Patriarchal families, once a girl is married, she by default inherits Gotra of her husband, her children – both male and female will inherit her husband’s Gotra. When her daughter is married, the daughter will leave her paternal Gotra and take on the Gotra of her husband’s family!

In case of a divorce, this inherited Gotra is once again considered while looking for a further match! There is another ceremony when a couple marries each other once again – this is usually done at the age of 60 or thereabouts and known as Shashtipurti – means completion of 60 years of age – the horoscope will have planets in identical position as birth (not all, but major planets)! This is one indication where the couple cannot have any more children! They share the same Gotra and their offspring will inherit genetic disease!!

Now a little more about Gotra – I will give my own example. My lineage traces back to Rishi Kanav, the Rishi who was responsible for giving Shakuntala refuge when her husband, the King, refused to accept her as his wife. The story is long, it was actually a curse on Shakuntala that in a future birth, her husband will abandon her! Shakuntala gave birth to Bharat – on whose name India was given the original name of Bharat!!

So, if I decide to get married, I cannot hope to marry a girl who shares the same Gotra as I – Kanav, simple as that!!