Parampara (Sanskrit: परम्परा, paramparā) denotes a succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Vedic culture and Indian religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. It is also known as guru-shishya paramparā ("succession from guru to disciple").
The Sanskrit word literally means an uninterrupted row or series, order, succession, continuation, mediation, tradition. In the traditional residential form of education, the shishya remains with his or her guru as a family member and gets the education as a true learner.
In some traditions there is never more than one active master at the same time in the same guruparamaparya (lineage).
Titles of Gurus in Parampara
In paramapara, not only is the immediate guru revered, the three preceding gurus are also worshipped or revered. These are known variously as the kala-guru or as the "four gurus" and are designated as follows:
- Guru - the immediate guru
- Parama-guru - the Guru of the Parampara or specific tradition (e.g. for the Śankaracharya's this is Adi Śankara)
- Parātpara-Guru - the Guru who is the source of knowledge for many traditions (e.g. for the Śankaracharya's this is Vedavyāsa)
- Parameṣṭhi-guru - the highest Guru which has the power to bestow mokṣa (usually depicted as Śiva, being the highest Guru)
- A Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Sir Monier Monier-Williams (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1899), ISBN 0-19-864308-X. Page 587, column a.
- Srimad Bhagavatam 7.12.1, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1976, ISBN 0-912776-87-0
- Padoux, André. "The Tantric Guru" in White, David Gordon (ed. 2000). Tantra in Practice, p. 44. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Mahanirvana Tantra