Pravara means the excellent. Pravara is the number of the excellent rishis who belonged to that particular Gotra. Gotra is the name of the founding father. Generally, there are three or five excellent rishis making up pravara in a Gotra. During upanayan sanskar while tying the knots of sacred thread an oath is taken in the name of each one of these three or five of the most excellent rishis belonging to a persons gotra.

The full affiliation of a brahaman consists of 1) Gotra 2) Sutra (of Kalpa) 3) Shakha and 4) Pravaras.

Example :

A Brahman who introduces himself to others as follows describes himself as Mr. “X”, of Gautam Gotra, of Gautam Sutra, of Madyandina Shakha of Shukla Yajurved, of three pravaras named Angiras, Sharadvad and Gautam.

The pravara identifies the connection of a person with two, three or sometimes five mentioned rishi. It also signifies the Sutras and their contribution to different Ved's.

There are two kinds of pravaras, 1) Rishi Parampara and 2) Putra Parampara. When it is Rishi Parampara marriage is not acceptable if half or more than half of the rishis are same in both bride and bride groom Gotras. If it is putraparampara, marriage is totally unacceptable even if one rishi matches.