- Śruti tradition
- Bhakti yoga
- Advaita Vedanta
Characteristics of the guru–shishya relationship:
Some common elements in this relationship include:
- The establishment of a teacher/student relationship.
- A formal recognition of this relationship, generally in a structured initiation ceremony where the guru accepts the initiate as a shishya and also accepts responsibility for the spiritual well-being and progress of the new shishya.
- Sometimes this initiation process will include the conveying of specific esoteric wisdom and/or meditation techniques.
- Gurudakshina, where the shishya gives a gift to the guru as a token of gratitude, often the only monetary or otherwise fee that the student ever gives. Such tokens can be as simple as a piece of fruit or as serious as a thumb, as in the case of Ekalavya and his guru Dronacharya.
Enrich Your Learning:
- The guru–shishya tradition or parampara denotes a succession of teachers and disciples in traditional Vedic culture and religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism.
- Each parampara belongs to a specific sampradaya, and may have own akharas and gurukulas.
- Such sharing of sacred wisdom is imparted through the formal relationship between the guru and the disciple that has many requirements including extreme respect towards the guru, and unwavering commitment, devotion and obedience in the student.
- In some forms of Buddhism, the Guru-disciple relationship is called “dharma transmission.”
- The Guru-Disciple relationship has provided an effective mechanism for sharing the spiritual riches of Eastern religions in a deeply personal and meaningful way; however, due to the extreme devotion and loyalty toward the Guru, there is always the potential for abuse. Unfortunately, there have been many reported cases where fraudulent gurus have taken advantage of their disciples in various ways, including sexual abuse.
Titles of gurus:
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 mokhṣa (usually depicted as Lord Śiva, being the highest guru)
- Śruti tradition:
- The Guru-shishya tradition plays an important part in the Shruti tradition of Vaidika dharma.
- The Hindus believe that the Vedas have been handed down through the ages from Guru to shishya.
- The Vedas themselves prescribe for a young brahmachari to be sent to a Gurukul where the Guru (referred to also as acharya) teaches the pupil the Vedas and Vedangas.
- Bhakti yoga:
- The best known form of the Guru-shishya relationship is found in the practice of bhakti (“Devotion” or “surrender to God).
- Bhakti extends from the simplest expression of devotion to the ego-decimating principle of prapati, which is total surrender.
The bhakti form of the guru-shishya relationship generally incorporates three primary practices:
- Devotion to the guru as a divine figure or avatar.
- The belief that such a guru has transmitted, or will impart moksha, diksha or shaktipat to the (successful) shishya.
- The belief that if the shishya’s act of focusing his or her devotion (bhakti) upon the guru is sufficiently strong and worthy, then some form of spiritual merit will be gained by the shishya.
- In the ego-decimating principle of prapatti (“Throwing oneself down”), the level of the submission of the will of the shishya to the will of the guru is sometimes extreme.
- It is one of total, unconditional submission to God or guru, often coupled with an attitude of self-effacement.
- Advaita Vedanta:
The guru must have the following qualities:
- Must be learned in the Vedic scriptures and sampradaya
- Figuratively meaning “established in Brahman”; must have realised the oneness of Brahman in everything and in himself.