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Pravara In Hindu Religion – Lineage Based On Sages

In Hindu religion, Pravara are the illustrious sages belonging to a gotra or a family or a clan or a race. According to a legend, all the Brahmins are descendants of Braham, the creator, tracing their origin through eighteen sages. Gotras generally help to classify the people into groups and the special rituals to be performed by people belonging to each gotra. With the proliferation of groups, gotras became subdivided according to illustrious sages who were born in these gotras and these sages are called pravara rishis. Thus every gotra has a pravara. Though the majority of the gotras in a lineage of a clan does have three pravara sages, a few have one or two or five.

 If a person does not know his own lineage or line of ancestral sages, he should take that of his preceptor. Since all the sages of each clan were illustrious, there is no special significance in the selection of a few of these.

People belonging to the same lineage of sages cannot intermarry. The prohibition of marriage within the lineage of sages is found in the Grihya Sutras (aphorisms on household ceremonies), but there is no similar prohibition of marriage within a gotra (clan).

In Hindu marriage, as it is prevalent now, before giving away the girl to the boy, the names of the immediate predecessors of three generations for both bride and bridegroom within the gotra (the clan) and pravara (the sages) are announced loudly thrice. This enables the people assembled to know the family background of the bride and the bridegroom.

While prostrating before elders, a Brahmin repeats the name of the gotra (clan) to which he belongs and the names of the sages in it (pravara). This enables others to know about the noble descent of the person. It serves as a brief but important self-introduction.