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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"). Each parampara belongs to a specific sampradaya, and may have own akharas and gurukulas.
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.
The current Acaryas, the heads of the maṭhas, trace their authority back to the four main disciples of Shankara, and each of the heads of these four maṭhas takes the title of Shankaracharya ("the learned Shankara") after Adi Shankara.
The Advaita guru-paramparā (Lineage of Gurus in Non-dualism) begins with the mythological time of the Daiva-paramparā, followed by the vedic seers of the Ṛṣi-paramparā, and the Mānava-paramparā of historical times and personalities:[note 1]
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 Lord Śiva, being the highest guru)
- The following Sanskrit Verse among Smarthas provides the list of the early teachers of the Vedanta in their order:
"नारायणं पद्मभुवं वशिष्ठं शक्तिं च तत्पुत्रं पराशरं च व्यासं शुकं गौडपादं महान्तं गोविन्दयोगीन्द्रं अथास्य शिष्यम्
श्री शंकराचार्यं अथास्य पद्मपादं च हस्तामलकं च शिष्यम् तं तोटकं वार्त्तिककारमन्यान् अस्मद् गुरून् सन्ततमानतोऽस्मि
अद्वैत गुरु परंपरा स्तोत्रम्"
"nārāyanam padmabhuvam vasishtam saktim ca tat-putram parāśaram ca
vyāsam śukam gauḍapāda mahāntam govinda yogīndram athāsya śiṣyam
śri śankarācāryam athāsya padmapādam ca hastāmalakam ca śiṣyam
tam trotakam vārtikakāram-anyān asmad gurūn santatamānato’smi
The above advaita guru paramparā verse salute the prominent gurus of advaita, starting from Nārāyaṇa through Adi Sankara and his disciples, up to the Acharyas of today.
- the famous redactor of the vedas, he is also traditionally identified with Bādarāyaṇa, the composer of the Brahmasūtras
- Federico Squarcini, 2011, Boundaries, Dynamics and Construction of Traditions in South Asia.
- Leela Prasad, 2012, Poetics of Conduct: Oral Narrative and Moral Being in a South Indian Town.
- Monika Horstmann, Heidi Rika Maria Pauwels, 2009, Patronage and Popularisation, Pilgrimage and Procession.
- 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
- "The Advaita Vedânta Home Page — Advaita Parampara". Advaita-vedanta.org. 1999-05-05. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
- Under Page: BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES ABOUT SANKARA AND GAUDAPAD
- Book: Shri Gowdapadacharya & Shri Kavale Math (A Commemoration volume). P. 38.
- Mahanirvana Tantra