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I haven't read much but from what I have read I have come to understand that Hinduism is not just one religion but a wholesome bunch of all kinds of beliefs. It includes faith in different Gods and the Goddess (Vaishnavs, Shaivs, Shaakts) and even the absence of faith in any God (where only karma matters). All the books are inter-related and acknowledge the role of their contemporaries. My confusion is regarding the selection of the sect by a person.

Firstly, our gotra decides our lineage which goes up to the seven (or eight) ancient sages. My first question is, are all the people from a gotra devoted to the same faith (Shaiv, Vaishnav, Shaakt)?

Secondly, if a person belongs to a particular caste, is there a text which tells them which faith they belong to? For example, Gaur Brahmans can be Shaivs as well as Vaishnavs. Because that is a broad spectrum, how to know which Shaiv or Vaishnav sect they belong to?

Thirdly, according to Jyotish, every person has an Isht Dev. Does a person's Isht Dev always coincide with their God (the faith that the family follows)?

Wikipedia says,

"A gotra must be distinguished from a kula. A kula is a set of people following similar cultural rituals, often worshiping the same divinity (the Kula-Devata, god of the clan). Kula does not relate to lineage or caste. In fact, it is possible to change one's kula, based on one's faith or Iṣṭa-devatā."

So, how would one know where they belong? I am sorry if something is not clear because I am looking for clarity. Using the above three how can we decide which sect we belong to?

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    I think you do not need to pay attention to Gotra, caste, Jyotish. One should find themselves in this vast and deep ocean of Hindu dharma, and see what you can believe in. We belong where we can believe in. Considerations to Gotra, caste, Jyotish, etc, are not relevant. – brahma jijnasa Aug 13 '15 at 8:49
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  1. The so called castes as known today, were representative of career

  2. There is distinction of castes in vedas or in any hindu scriptures

  3. The child born (Satyakama) to mother "Jabala" ask her mother, who is her father (or his gotra), she says she served many rishis and do not know who is the father, if anyone asks, just say you are son of "jabala"

  4. In Chandogya Upanishad Chapter IV, Satyakama Jabala, in his quest for knowledge approaches Sage Gautam (exalted sage), when asked about his gotra, he introducing himself as son of Jabala.

  5. The sage accepts him as a disciple for being truthful

  6. This instance shows that there is no discrmination in entire hindu scriptures for anyone seeking knowledge and there were no castes no barriers.

  7. Any person with a thinking mind is a brahmins, body builders required to protect the society were kshatriyas, businessmen were vyasyas and workers are shudras

  8. Vishwamitra was kshatriya became brahmin

  9. Sage Parashurama, was a brahmin, took up kshatriya type activity of killing all vicious rulers of that times

  10. So the caste is not by birth, but by practice. A shudra can also be born in brahmin family and vice versa (example of Saint kabir, born to ordinary worker family)

  11. There are many such examples

  • Annonymous, one more thing, you mentioned in a different post here, that "Moksha is a relative term, from one loka to another higher loka". Can you please elaborate on that? Everywhere else i have read, moksha has been attributed to the soul merging with the Brahman. – Churamani Aug 12 '15 at 6:04

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