[Advaita-l] On sagotra Marriages

Venkatesh Murthy vmurthy36 at gmail.com
Mon Jun 20 10:16:49 CDT 2011


But there is one problem nowadays. If someone does not know his Gotra
he can say he is from Kashyapa Gotra. Possible situation is bridegroom
and bride do not know the Gotra.  Both will say Kashyapa Gotra. It
becomes Sagotra. Will you prohibit the marriage?

On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 7:55 PM, Vidyasankar Sundaresan
<svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> Prohibition of Sagotra marriages is one such rule allowing for
>> flexibility.Basically there were sagotra marriages performed as families
>> were restricted to Agraharas and there was not much of movement from place
>> to place. Sagotra marriages were causing both mental and physical damage to
>> the offspring. This was realised and then sagotra marriages were prohibited.
> Statements such as these need to be backed up with historical data. Or at
> least with incidents and anecdotes related in mythology that could indicate
> a historical progression of allowing sa-gotra unions to prohibiting sa-gotra
> marriages. A few 19th century and early 20th century writers held such a
> view, which is being mindlessly parroted by some today. e.g.
> http://www.hindubooks.org/sudheer_birodkar/hindu_history/practices2.html,
> which says "the rigid injunction against marriage within a Gotra itself implies
> that once the practice of marrying within one Gotra must have existed." If
> this is the strongest argument that can be offered, it is extremely weak
> indeed. Prohibiting theft doesn't indicate that stealing was ever a social
> norm. Yes, some people steal, but that would have never been acceptable
> to other people in a society, no matter how primitive or how ancient. In a
> similar way, yes, some marriages probably occured between members of
> the same gotra in the distant past. But to describe it as the ancient norm
> is completely unsound, from all possible angles, whether from the ritual
> perspective within Vedism/Brahminism/Hinduism or from a modern social
> studies perspective of sociology or anthropology. I wish Indians in this day
> and age learned a little bit more of critical methodology from contemporary
> Western academia when studying and describing their own ancient heritage.
> For example, take the other rarely commented upon prohibition that is
> commonly observed in south Indian society. Why is it that the children born
> to two sisters cannot marry each other? They would, by definition be of
> different gotra-s, unless both sisters had been married to men of the same
> gotra. And south Indian custom is not so strict about sa-piNDa prohibitions,
> seeing as how a man could wed his maternal uncle's daughter or a paternal
> aunt's daughter. But nowhere is it seen in south India that a man could
> marry his mother's sister's daughter. To understand the historical, social
> and cultural reasons for such customs needs a nuanced and critical eye,
> rather than repeating tired old theories postulated a century or so ago
> and making unwarranted conclusions.
> That said,
>> However over a period of time people( of same gotra -say ) started to
>> migrate to far off places. For example a family with Gotra Kaundinya in
>> Vizag can not link with a family of Kaundina in Guntur even after going back
>> in to the past( say- five to six generations) . The basic presumption for
>> prohibiting sagotra marriage may not hold good in the above case. It may be
>> noted that this concept of generations is taken up by ancestors for allowing
>> other type of marriages( Sapinda.. ) . If this is so it is more than
>> possible to permit Sagotra marriages by applying this concept of looking
>> back for three or more generations .
> there may be some contemporary incentive to really understand and get
> to the roots of the do-s and dont-s in cases such as you describe. On the
> other hand, the Indian population is vast. If a prospective bride and groom
> have made up their own minds to marry and happen to be from the same
> gotra, that is a different question. It would be more honest, as suggested
> by other list members, for all the individuals involved to acknowledge that
> this is a problematic issue from the SAstric perspective and to take a
> principled stand about how to deal with it. But if a wedding is to be arranged
> in a traditional way and conducted with the traditional religious ceremonies,
> is the eligible sample so limited as to have to choose a match within the
> same gotra?
>> It is high time that we do away with static interpretation of certain
>> principles, Dharmas when inherently they imply flexible applications with
>> changing times.
>> May be we discuss sub item in true spirit without resorting to quoting
>> scriptures and others but based on related scientific principles.
> I think it is hypocritical to call for flexible interpretation of dharma in one
> breath and follow it up with request not to quote scripture. You can't do
> any sort of interpretation, static or dynamic, rigid or flexible, without
> quoting relevant chapter and verse first. I wonder what you mean by "do
> away" with a static interpretation in this regard. Are you expecting one
> of the Sankaracharyas to come up with a proclamation that says gotra
> considerations will henceforth be irrelevant for marriage? Given that a
> Sankaracharya title seems to have become all too common nowadays,
> you may even find someone prepared to make such a proclamation. The
> question is, what force or validity will it have?
> The truth is that it is only in the various offshoots of Vedic culture that we
> have never insisted on rigidity and static application of principles. The
> very fact that we have a vast diversity of customs and traditions, while
> quoting the same basic sets of SAstric texts means that over the centuries,
> a variety of flexible applications and dynamic interpretations were made
> and indeed accepted. If one does not want to quote scripture and/or give
> due weight to precedent from a legal/cultural/social/historical perspective
> when it comes to marriages, then there are numerous other valid options
> in contemporary society to  proceed with a marriage. For example, a civil
> marriage registered legally bypasses the entire sagotra issue.
> Regards,
> Vidyasankar
> ps. Although this topic is getting far away from the focus of this list, there
> seems to be some usefulness in discussing basic attitudes towards reason
> and revelation/custom/tradition. Inasmuch as that may help critical thinking
> towards the role of reason and revelation/custom/tradition in the philosophy
> of advaita vedAnta, this thread may be okay. If it wanders too far afield, the
> moderators of this list (Ravisankar Mayavaram, Jaldhar Vyas and I) will have
> to draw a line and say thus far and no further.
> _______________________________________________
> Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/
> http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.culture.religion.advaita
> To unsubscribe or change your options:
> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l
> For assistance, contact:
> listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org



More information about the Advaita-l mailing list