Parampara (Sanskrit: parampara) denotes a succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Indian culture. It is also known as guru-shishya parampara, succession from guru to disciple. In the parampara system, knowledge (in any field) is passed down (undiluted) through successive generations. The Sanskrit word literally means an uninterrupted series or succession. In the traditional residential form of education, the shishya remains with his guru as a family member and gets the education as a true learner.
The guru-shishya tradition, lineage, or parampara, is a spiritual relationship in traditional Hinduism where teachings are transmitted from a guru (teacher) to a shishya (disciple) or chela. Such knowledge, whether it be vedic, agamic artistic, architectural, musical or spiritual, is imparted through the developing relationship between the guru and the disciple. It is considered that this relationship, based on the genuineness of the guru, and the respect, commitment, devotion and obedience of the student, is the best way for subtle or advanced knowledge to be conveyed. The student eventually masters the knowledge that the guru embodies.
In some traditions there is never more than one active master at the same time in the same guruparamapara (lineage).
The fields of knowledge taught may include, for example, spiritual, artistic (music or dance) or educational.
Sampradaya. An established parampara is often called sampradaya, or school of thought. It can be translated as ‘tradition’ or a ‘religious system’, although the word commands much more respect and power in the Indian context than its translations in English does. It relates to a disciplic succession serving as a spiritual channel and providing a delicate network of relationships that lends stability of religious identity being clarified precisely when that network becomes unstable.
There are four Vaishnava sampradayas according to Padma Purana. Four Vaisnava disciplic successions, inaugurated by Lakshmi (Sri - sampradaya), by Lord Brahma (Brahma - sampradaya), by Shiva (Rudra – sampradaya) and by Sanaka, one of the four Kumaras (Kumara-sampradaya).
Sri chooses Ramanuja to represent her disciplic succession. In the same way Lord Brahma chose Madhvacharya in Brahma sampradaya, Rudra chose Visnuswami in Rudra Sampradaya, and the four Kumaras chose Nimbaditya (Nimbarka Sampradaya).
Satguru means true guru. The term distinguishes itself from other forms of gurus, such as musical instructors, scripitural teachers, parents, and so on. The satguru is a title given specifically only to an enlightened rishi/saint whose life's purpose is to guide initiated shishya along the spiritual path, the summation of which is the realization of the Self through realization of the God.
In the Upanishads, five signs of satguru are mentioned,
"In the presence of the satguru:
- Knowledge flourishes (Gyana raksha);
- Sorrow diminishes (Dukha kshaya);
- Joy wells up without any reason (Sukha aavirbhava);
- Abundance dawns (Samriddhi);
- All talents manifest (Sarva samvardhan)."
In one of Kabir's songs the satguru is described as the real sadhu:
"He is the real Sadhu, who can reveal the form of the Formless to the vision of these eyes;
Who teaches the simple way of attaining Him, that is other than rites or ceremonies;
Who does not make you close the doors, and hold the breath, and renounce the world;
Who makes you perceive the Supreme Spirit wherever the mind attaches itself;
Who teaches you to be still in the midst of all your activities.
Ever immersed in bliss, having no fear in his mind,
he keeps the spirit of union in the midst of all enjoyments.
The infinite dwelling of the Infinite Being is everywhere: in earth, water, sky, and air;
Firm as the thunderbolt, the seat of the seeker is established above the void.
He who is within is without: I see Him and none else."