bandhu

(‘one who binds [through love or blood relationship]’)

The word ‘bandhu’ 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, since a clear definition of the word was all 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) as opposed to the gotrajas (agnates) or relatives through the male members of the family. Elaborate details with regard to the line of succession have been provided by the dharmaśāstras.