By Swami Harshananda
Bandhu literally means ‘one who binds through love or blood relationship’.
The word ‘bandhu’ when used in early Vedic literature meant a ‘friend.’ Later, it was used to indicate any relative or blood-relation in general.
Gradually, by the time of the medieval digests of dharmaśāstras, it acquired a more technical or legal sense. It was very important to have a clear definition of the word as it was very important in cases of rights to the property of a deceased person. Hence it was defined as a person related to the deceased through one or more female relatives (cognate) against the gotrajas (agnates) or relatives through the male members of the family. Elaborate details with regards to the line of succession have been provided by the dharmaśāstras.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore