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In Brahmin Hindu culture, a Pravara (Sanskrit for "most excellent") is a particular Brahmin's descent from a rishi (sage) who belonged to their gotra (clan). In vedic ritual, the importance of the pravara appears to be in its use by the ritualist for extolling his ancestry and proclaiming, "as a descendant of worthy ancestors, I am a fit and proper person to do the act I am performing." Generally, there are three, five or seven pravaras. The sacred thread yajnopavita worn on upanayana has close and essential connection with the concept of pravaras related to Brahmin gotra system. While tying the knots of sacred thread, an oath is taken in the name of each one of these three, five or seven of the most excellent rishis belonging to one's gotra.
(Example :) A brahmana named 'Rama' introduces himself as follows : I am 'Rama', of Sarvarna gotra, of Gobhil sutra, of Taittiriya shākha of Saamved, of five pravaras named Bhārgava, Chyāvana, Āpnavan, Aurva and Jāmdagnya (This example is based upon the example given by Pattābhirām Shastri in the introduction to Vedārtha-Pārijata, cf. ref.).
While the gotras were classified initially according to seven rishis, the pravaras were classified under the names of the following seven rishis: Agastya, Angirasa, Atri, Bhrigu, Kashyap, Vashista, and Vishvamitra.
According to the listing of authors included in the verses in Rigved, the rishi Jamadagni was a descendant of rishi Bhrigu while the rishis Gautam and Bharadvaja were the descendants of rishi Angirasa.
For example, Gothram has 2 rishis associated with it viz., Nidruva and Avatsara. Another Gothram in Andhra Pradesh has 7 Rishis associated with it viz. Aavatsara, Naidruva, Rebha, Raibha, Sandila, Sandilya.
Pravaras also help in identifying different gotras bearing the same name. For eg: Harita Gotra with Pravaras Angirasa, Ambarisha, Yuvanaswa is different from Harita Gotra which has a single Pravara Vashishta.
- Vashishta: Vashishta, Shaktri, Parashar
- Kapisa[disambiguation needed]: Angirasa, Bharadwaja, Bhaarhaspatya, Vaandna, Matavacha.
- Kundina Gowthama: Angirasa, Ayasya, Kundina Gowthama
- Bharadwaja: Angirasa, Bhaarhaspatya, Bharadwaja
- Vadula: Bhargava,Vaitahavya,Saavedasa
- Srivatsa a.k.a. Vatsa: Bhargava, Chyavana, Apnavana/Apnuvat, Aurava, Jamadagnya
- Shatamarshana: Angirasa, Powrukutsa,Traasatasya
- AAtreya: Atreya,Aarchanaasa,Syaavaasva
- Kowsika: Vaiswaamitra,AAgamarshana,Kowsika
- Kalabodhana/Kalaboudha: Viswaamitra,AAgamarshana,Kalabodhana/Kalaboudha
- Bhargava:Bhargava ,Tvashta,Vishvaroopa
- Viswamitra: Vaiswaamitra,Devaraata, Owtala
- Kowndinya: Vaasishta,Maitraavaruna, Kowndinya
- Kapinjala: Vasishta,Aindrapramada,Abharadvasavya
- Harita/Haritasa: (2 Variations)
- Harita, Ambarisha, Yuvanasva
- Angirasa, Ambarisha, Yuvanasva
- Gautamasa: Angirasa, Aayasyasa, Gautama
- Mowdgalya (3 Variations)
- Angirasa, Bharmyasva, Mowdgalya
- Tarkshya, Bharmyasva, Mowdgalya
- Angirasa, Dhavya, Mowdgalya
- Sandilya (2 Variations)
- Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Daivala
- Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Sandilya
- Kasyapa, Daivala, Asitha
- Naidhruvakaasyapa: Kasyapa, Aavatsara ,Naidhruva
- Kutsa: Aankirasa, Maandhatra ,Kowtsa
- Kapi: Angirasa, Aamahaiya, Orukshaya
- Kapila: Angirasa, Aamahaiya, Orukshaya
- Kanva (2 Variations)
- Angirasa, Ajameeda, Kaanva
- Angirasa ,Kowra, Kaanva
- Paraasara: Vaasishta, Saaktya, Paarasarya
- Upamanyu: Vasishta, Aindrapramada, Bhadravasavya
- Aagastya: Aagastya, Tardhachyuta, Sowmavaha
- Gargi (2 Variations)
- Angirasa, Bharhaspatya, Bharadwaja, Sainya, Gargya
- Angirasa, Sainya, Gaargya
- Bhadarayana: Angirasa, Paarshadaswa, Raatitara
- Kasyapa: Kasyapa, Aavatsaara, Daivala
- Sunkriti (2 Variations)
- Angirasa, Kowravidha, Saankritya
- Sadhya, Kowravidha, Saankritya
- Suryadhwaja: Lakhi (Mehrishi), Soral, Binju
- Daivaratasa: Viswamitra, Daivaratasa, Avudhala
- Pouraguthsa: Veedahavya, Travedasa, Traadadaasyuhu
- Vardulasa: Bhargava, Vaitahavya, Saavedasa
- Rathitaras: Angirasa, Vairupya, Parswadraswa
Example transliteration of a pravara
chatussAgara paryantam gobrAhmaNebhyaH shubhaM bhavatu AngIrasa bhAradvAja gArgya shainya trayaRishayoH pravarAnvita gargya bhAradvaja gotraH Apastamba sUtraH TaiTreeya krisHna yajuH shAkhAdhAyI shrI rAma sharmaH ahaM bho AbhivAdaye
चतुस्सगारा पर्यन्तं गो ब्रह्मणेभ्यः शुभम भवतु अन्गिरस भारद्वाज गार्ग्य शैन्य त्रयारिशयो: प्रवारंविता गार्ग्य भारद्वाज गोत्र: अपस्तम्ब सूत्रः यजुह शाखाधायी श्री राम शरमः अहम् भो अभिवादये
Explanation of the example
Line 1: Prelogue: May all the cows and Brahmanas across the four seas be blessed
Line 2: The names and number of the main rishis to whose lineage the person belongs
Line 3: Gotra of the person
Line 4: The sutra that the person follows
Line 6: Name of the person
- Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Monier-Williams, Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt Ltd, 55-Rani Jhansi Road, New Delhi-110055, Third Print 1988; (original publication Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1899).
- Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Monier-Williams, ISBN 0-19-864308-X.
- Vedārtha-Pārijāta by Swāmi Karpātri, introduction by Pattābhirām Śāstri, Śri Rādhā krishna Dhanuka Prakāśan Sansthān, Calcutta ; Sañchālaka : Vedaśāstra Research Centre, Kedārghat, Vārānasi,1979 (Sanskrit and Hindi, the introduction has an English translation as well).