Lineage segment within an Indian caste, indicating common descent from a mythical ancestor. Marriage by members of the same gotra was traditionally prohibited. The custom was intended to prevent inbreeding as well as to broaden the influence of each gotra through marriage alliances. The term originally denoted segments of the Brahman caste descended from seven ancient seers. The number of Brahman gotras later increased, and some non-Brahman Hindu groups also established gotras.