Paramparā (Sanskrit: परम्परा) denotes a succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Indian culture. It is also known as guru-shishya paramparā, succession from guru to disciple. In the paramparā 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.
In some traditions there is never more than one active master at the same time in the same guru parampara (lineage).
The fields of knowledge taught may include, for example, spiritual, artistic (music or dance) or educational.
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's guru
- Parapara-guru - the Parama-guru's guru
- Parameshti-guru - the Parapara-guru's guru
In the Vedic culture therefore we find four primary disciplic lines which have come down through countless ages, sometimes appearing manifest, sometimes not, yet still the pure and unadulterated messages of Veda span our concepts of the temporal (material realm), and were, and are handed down from 'guru' to disciple.
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