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The Gotra is a system which associates a person with his most ancient or root ancestor in an unbroken male lineage.For instance if a person says that he belongs to the Bharadwaja Gotra then it means that he traces back his male ancestry to the ancient Rishi (Saint or Seer) Bharadwaja.What this means is that Vatsa Gotra has in its lineage all these Gotras and traces back its root to Bhrigu Rishi in the list of Gotrakarins.The idea behind this Pravara system is probably to ensure that the derived Gotras still maintain track of their root Gotras, and this in turn is used to ensure that Bride and Bridegroom from no two derived Gotras coming from the same root Gotra marry each other.In that case his Gotra will end with him in that lineage because his daughters will belong to the Gotras of their husbands after their marriage!This was probably the reason why in the ancient vedic or hindu societies it was preferred to have atleast one Son along with any number of daughters, so that the Gotra of the father could continue. Why should only Sons carry the Gotra of their father, why can’t daughters?Now consider two derived Gotras which came from the same Gotra, then it might happen that over time people might forget that both these Gotras came from the same root Gotra, and may allow marriages within these Gotras since their names are different!
So Gotra means Cowshed, where in the context is that Gotra is like the Cowshed protecting a particular male lineage.This makes sense as this prevents marriages between derived Gotras which belong to the same root Gotra.This reminds me of a similar logic in the modern Object Oriented Programming in Software Systems.And now to the Science behind the Gotra System, but before that let us just check out one more additional rule related to marriages in the Gotra System.Pravara is a list of most excellent Rishis in a Gotra lineage.
The total number of established Gotras today is 49.