Some Random thoughts on Sagothra marriages
When we are not able to arrange marriages for our children, we tend to think that the fault lies with the several systems that we follow .For example many people believe that they are not able to get married because of Astrological matching of horoscopes. There is not much evidence to support such beliefs but in spite of that , if that be the case , there is no harm in stopping astrological matching of horoscopes. Matching of horoscopes is not a caste rule but depends on belief. Nobody compels any one to match horoscopes before marriage, There is no mention of marriage based on horoscope matching in Puranas , sasthras , Rule books of caste etc. So if we suspect that our children are not getting married due to it and we and our children do not believe in astrology , the first thing would be to discontinue the practice of matching horoscopes.
All the people next point their accusing fingers on sagothra marriages. It is commonly understood that Gothra is the paternal lineage, which is important to Hindus of all shades except the group practicing matrilineal inheritance in Kerala. The Dharma sashtras, I understand also ban the marriages within Pravaras. Pravaras are important note worthy individuals among the ancestors of the Rishis who lead the Gothra. If we agree that sagothra marriages are not to be performed, then it is meaningful not to perform Sapravara marriages. The advocates of this principle are not doing this because they are bothered about inbreeding depression. For these self same people advocate marriage of a girl with maternal uncle, paternal aunt’s son , maternal uncle’s son (all of them belong to some other Gothra). Since this practice was considered as incest in most of the northern parts of India, the constitution makes such marriages legal among people of south India. Let us examine the difficulties created by sagothra marriages. Studies indicate that the most populous Gothra Bhardwaja occupies 20% of the general population. So even for them , they can search for a groom/bride among the rest 80% of the population . Can this be considered as a difficult restriction?
Caste among Hindus in Dharma Sasthras depend on the mother rather than the father. A Brahmin woman marrying a Brahmin , only begets a Brahmin child. If she marries outside the caste she gives birth to Chandala(with Shudhra), Sootha(With Kshatrya), and Vaidehaka(With Vysya). On the other hand the caste of the child born to a Brahmin father to the different caste mothers is same as the caste of the mother(Example four children of different castes of king Samudra Guptha who was a Brahmin) . But Gothra always goes from father to son , and that too if a Brahmin marries a Brahmin,
Another important point is that Gothras does not appear to be a population of patrilineal cousins. You would find the same Gothra in all parts of India, among all sub castes among Brahmins , Among those who follow different Vedas and Suthras etc. If they are indeed patrilineal cousins can this happen if they are a strict patrilineal community. There is also fact that the word Gothra indicates the place where Cows were tied. Thus did Gothra consist of a pastoral community whose cows were grazed together and tied in the same place under leadership of sages because there are several instances of great sages maintaining huge population of cows. Possibly when these people settled down in different places for cultivation or to study of Vedas and Sashthras , they might have started the present system of Patrinilineal community.
I am as confused as all of you are but I have a feeling that what we know about Gothras, their sages, their pravara rishis etc is too little (https://sanatanisrivaishnava.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/gotras-and-pravaras-of-smarta-and-sri-vaishnava-brahmins-angirasa-bharadwaja-garga-14-groups-of-sri-vaishnava-upanayana-brahmachari-grihasta-vanaprastha-pancha-samskari-ekangi-ekaki-deshant/ ) and following the present system does not cause much hardship .Even when I was a kid sagothra marriages used to take place (love marriages were not introduced by present day youngsters but were present from Vedic and Puranic times.The marriages were called Swayayam vara-self chosen) by the girl being given to her uncle’s family in adoption. To my best of my knowledge all those families are living a good life .
Not being a religious leader or a Vedic scholar , I am forced to end my write up in this confused state.