Thursday, November 26, 2020

Is Rahul Gandhi a 'Kaul Dattatreya'?

01 Dec 2018

Grasping the Gandhi Gotra

Rahul Gandhi has stirred up yet another controversy after he revealed his 'gotra' during a recent visit to the Bramha Temple in Pushkar, Rajasthan. During the prayer rituals, the current Congress Party President revealed that his gotra is 'Kaul Dattatreya' and that he is a Kashmiri Brahmin by caste.

Priests Deenanath Kaul and Rajnath Kaul were prompt to establish his family lineage from ancient documents

However, soon after the revelation, various suspecting netizens started disputing the Congress President's claims on his gotra. Many pointed out that Rahul Gandhi could not belong to the Hindu gotra system as his grandfather was not a Hindu. Some argued that lineage passes from father to son and not a mother to son and hence Nehru's gotra could not have been passed to Rajiv Gandhi and hence to Rahul. Some even went on to highlight how the claimed 'Kaul Dattatreya' gotra did not even exist in the first place.

The controversy has managed to garner a lot of attention despite ongoing assembly elections. So let us learn if Mr Rahul Gandhi's claims hold water or not:

What is Gotra?

A person's Gotra is similar to his clan and can be used to trace his descent. People who are descendants of an intact 'male' bloodline belong to a common ‘male’ ancestor and share the same Gotra.

The traditional Hindu Gotra System is patrilineal and one gets his Gotra from his father and not from his mother.

What was the gotra of Jawaharlal Nehru?

The ancestors of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru belonged to Kashmir and were Kaul Brahmins by caste who had 'Dattatreya' as their Gotra. As his predecessors moved to Delhi, they shifted to a house located near a canal or 'nahar' and eventually dropped 'Kaul' from their surname and started going by the name 'Nehru' or the one who lives by the canal.

 What was the gotra of Indira Gandhi?

Indira Gandhi was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru. As per historical accounts, on a visit to the same temple in Pushkar, Indira Gandhi identified her gotra to be the same as her father's, i.e. ‘Dattatreya.’

 What was the gotra of Feroze Gandhi?

Indira Gandhi's husband Mr Feroze Jehangir Khan was born to a Parsi-Zoroastrian father who took up his mother Banu Jehangir's religion, i.e. Islam. Since he was a Parsi-Muslim and not a Hindu, the question of gotra does not arise here.

It was only later that Feroz Khan switched his surname to 'Gandhi' for political reasons. While there is a widespread speculation on whether Feroze Gandhi converted to Hinduism along with changing his surname, many biographers have reported that Indira Gandhi had rubbished all such claims to be false.

Gotra is passed on to a person by birth and as per Hindu traditions, even if a person converts to Hinduism, they cannot take up gotra by choice. Therefore, Rahul Gandhi's paternal grandfather Mr Feroze Gandhi, could not possibly have had any gotra, lest a 'Dattatreya' gotra.

What is the gotra of Rahul Gandhi?

First things first, under the traditional Hindu gotra system, there is no such gotra as 'Kaul Dattatreya.' However, a 'Dattatreya' gotra does exist among Kashmiri Brahmins but in Rahul Gandhi's case, he could not have belonged to any gotra, whether real or manufactured.

As Rajiv Gandhi's father was not a Hindu and as the gotra concept follows a patriarchal system, despite the fact that Indira Gandhi was a Kaul Brahmin by birth, Rajiv could not have got his gotra from the maternal side.

Further, Mr Rajiv Gandhi married Rahul Gandhi's mother Mrs Sonia Gandhi who was a practising Roman Catholic Christain. Again, the question of gotra does not arise in such a case.

There is no custom among the Hindus wherein the gotra passes on to progeny from the maternal side of the family and there's definitely no precedent where someone has claimed to be belonging to the same gotra as that of their grandmother.

Therefore, with a half Parsi-Islamic & half Hindu father and a Catholic mother, the self-claiming 'Janeudhari' and 'Shivbhakt' Rahul Gandhi cannot possibly be a Kaul Brahmin or belong to the 'Dattatreya' gotra.