Kuladevata darshan and the Gotra system in Hinduism

KuladevtaThe seniors and elders in the family and the old family priest used to tell me that we should go for our Kuladevata (Kuladev and Kuladaivat = family or Gotra deity, that is either a god or a goddess) darshan.

We have a tradition of village (community) deity -that’s Lakshmi Narasimha – and Gotra deity – that’s Mahalasa Narayani. Our Kuladevta temple is in Mardol, Goa hence we decided to go for a quick visit and reached temple on November 1, 2014.

The temple of Mahalsa Narayani is located at the small village of Mardol, about 22 kms from Panaji, the capital city of Goa. The Goddess Mahalsa is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, hence the name Mahalsa Narayani (Mohini, a a beautiful damsel representing the form of an enchantress). There are a number of legends associated with the deity and how she came into being.

For starters, the Sanatan Dharma followers (or Hindus) were living happily and peacefully from Gandhara Desa (today’s Afghanistan) to Philippines (including Tibet and China’s Yunnan Province) centuries ago. My ancestors were believed lived somewhere in Kashmir to Nepal belt five thousand years ago. Mahalsa Narayani temple was somewhere in Nepal.

The Goddess deity was moved from Nepal to Aurangabad in Maharashtra. During the Mugal invasion in Aurangabad the idol was moved to a secret location in Goa. Later, the deity was housed in a temple at a shrine in village of Verna which is now the site of an industrial estate. Along with other 4000 Goan temples, this beautiful temple at Verna was also marked for destruction by the Portuguese missionaries around 1543 as part of inquisition.

However, before the actual demolition could take place the idol of the deity was smuggled away across the river by faithful devotees, to the safer locale of Mardol, where it is located today.

Mahalasa is Kuladevata for my Gotra. My Gotra is Vishwamitra- Aghamarshana- Kamsi.

“What’s a Gotra?”

Gotra = lineage (Sanskrit). Many lines of descent from the major Rishis (Sages or Saints or Seers) were later grouped separately. The sages were probably the source of the gene pool in ancient India. The Gotra is a system that associates a person with his most ancient or root ancestor in an unbroken lineage. For instance if a person says that he belongs to the Vaashishtha Gotra then it means that he traces back his ancestry to the ancient Rishi Vashishtha. So Gotra refers to the root person in a person’s lineage.

There are approximately 49 Gotras. The major Gotras were divided into ganas (subdivisions) and each gana was further divided into groups of families…

(Excerpts from my book: MANTRAS and RITUALS: THE LOGIC OF HINDU SCIENCE. For further reading: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B093Z2M52M ) You may visit Amazon site of your respective country and search “B093Z2M52M”

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Udaylal Pai

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