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Vansha (वंश) denotes the ancestral family from which its members traced their descent.

Vaṁśa as Known to Panini

V. S. Agrawala [1] writes about VaṁśaVaṁśas could be both natural and cultural in their character. The spiritual lineage is called by Panini Vidyā-sambandha, and natural lineage Yoni-sambandha (IV.3.77, VI.3.23) . The spiritual lineage is represented by a succession of teachers and pupils. The natural lineage is traced both on the father’s and mother’s sides as pointed out by Patanjali. (IV.1.147, II.261).

It was the duty of the pupils to recite the succession lists of the teachers of Schools to which they belonged. A few such genealogies are preserved in Vedic works.

Family pedigrees also seem to be carefully preserved by counting the number of its generations from the original founder. Patanjali cites ekaviṁshati-Bhārdvājam, meaning that there were 21 descendants in the line of Bhārdvāja (I.499).

A second instance is tripañchāsad-Gautamam (Pat. I.499 on II.4.84), meaning that there were already counted 53 generations of the descendants of Gautamas. These numbers afford valuable chronological data for computing their time allowing 25 years to a generation. Thus the first Bhārdvāja should be dated to about 20x25 = 500 years earlier and the first Gautama to about 52x25 = 1300 years earlier than the time when the two illustrations were adopted. It may be noted as a striking resemblance that the Brihadāraṇyaka Upanishad also knows only of 57 generations of teachers. It may be surmised that perhaps this stock-example of 53 Gautamas dates from the time when the Vamsa lists were being

[p.95]: compiled in Brahmana period. We may also note that the Gautama family with which this example is connected was an important family famous for its learning as represented in its several descendants like Aruṇa, Uddālaka Aruṇi, and his son Śvetaketu Āruṇeya in the Upanishads.

The Sutra IV.1.163 mentions the two terms Vaṁsya and Yuvā which denoted the great grand-father and the great grand-son respectively as being alive at the same time. As stated above, suffixes were added to indicate these distinctions as in the series of Garga-Gārgāyaṇa.

V. S. Agrawala [2] writes that During Panini's life time the eldest male member who represented the family (Kula) was the Gotra and the junior members were called Yuvan. Panini also uses a third term, viz. Vanshya (Vaṁśya), to designate him; this also appears to be a pre-paninian saṁjñā incidentally retained (IV.1.163).

Vanshas and Gotras

Gotras have initially been created in the name of a person, a place or some historical incidence. When a great person takes birth in a generation, all the previous titles of this generation are included in the name of this great person and a new gotra starts in his name. Like caste does not change, gotras and vanshas also do not change. There can be more than one gotra in a vansha but there can not be more than one vansha in a gotra. For example Chauhan Vansha has 116 gotras included in it.[3]

Mention by Panini

Vanshavati (वंशावती) is name of a River mentioned by Panini in Ashtadhyayi under Sharādi (शरादि) (6.3.120) group. [4]


Initially, there was only one vansha that was Manuvansha. Later one branch started from sons of Manu, which was called Suryavansh and other branch started from daughter of Manu, Ila, that was called Chandravansh. Later to minimize the influence of Buddhism and Jainism in India, the Brahmans organized a grand yagya at mount Abu in Rajasthan, which continued for 40 days. Almost all the ruling clans attended this yagya. The ruling clans which took part in this yagya were titled as ‘Rajputs’. Four Kshatriyas appeared from the agnikunda namely, Solankis, Pratiharas, Chauhans and Paramaras. They were termed, "Agnivanshi Kshatriyas".[5]

According to Agni Purana, Agnivanshi Kshatriyas were born from the fire which resides in Mt. Abu in Northwestern India after the "destruction of ancient Kshatriyas". However, historians interpret this as suggestive of Indo-Scythian origin because this place was entrance gateway for scythic groups in India. In fact, lineage of all 36 Rajput ruling clans has been traced to Indo-Scythic races.[6] The ruling clans who took part in the above yagya were termed Rajputs but those who did not take part remained Jats, Gurjars as such in their old clans. Gotras did not change in this process that is why common gotras are found in Jats, Rajputs and Gurjars.

A vansha is connected with ruling clan like Huna vansha in China and Agnivansha in India. All the gotras try to link with some vansha. Those who joined Mount Abu yagya connect their gotra with four Rajput clans namely Solanki, Pratihara, Chauhan Paramara. Rest connect their gotra with Suryavansha or Chandravansha or some great Rishi or a King.

Leading historians advocates:

"The Rajputs proper were of mixed origin – pre-Muslim invaders such as Scythians, Bactrians, Parthians, Hunas and Gurjaras who came in before, say, the end of the 7th century."[7]

James Todd [8] writes that Most of the kula (races) are divided into numerous branches (sakha), and these sakha subdivided into innumerable clans (gotra). Got, khanp, denote a clan ; its subdivisions have the patronymic terminating with the syllable ' ot,' 'awat,' 'sot,' in the use of which euphony alone is their guide : thus, Saktawat, ' sons of Sakta ' ; Kurmasot, ' of Kurma ' ; Mairawat, or mairot, mountaineers, ' sons of the mountains.' Such is the Greek Mainote, from maina, a mountain, in the ancient Albanian dialect, of eastern origin. A few of the kula never ramified : these are termed eka, or ' single ' ; and nearly one-third are eka.

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