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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 tradition ("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).
In the paramparā system, knowledge (in any field) is passed down (undiluted) through successive generations. For example, division of Veda and its transfer through paramparas describes Bhagavata Purana. Other fields of knowledge taught may include spiritual, artistic (music or dance), or educational.
Titles of gurus
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 Śankaracharyas 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, who has the power to bestow mokṣa (usually depicted as Śiva, being the highest guru)
- Monier Monier-Williams (1899). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 587(column a). OL 6534982M.
- A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Srimad Bhagavatam 7.12.1, The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1976, ISBN 0-912776-87-0
- Padoux, André. "The Tantric Guru" in David Gordon White (ed.) 2000. Tantra in Practice, p. 44. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press OCLC 43441625
- Bhagavata Purana, Canto 12, Chapter 6 "Mahārāja Parīkṣit passes away". 47-60
- Mahanirvana Tantra