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Worldwide Sanatana Dharma Community
Yogis for Peace
Calendar Veda Loka
20 July
2024 year

5121 years of Kali Yuga,
28th Mahayuga
7th Manvantara
The era of Manu Vaivasvata
boar Kalpa
first day of 51 years
of the great
Our Tradition


Guru, what makes a teaching or a spiritual tradition authentic, genuine? What are the authenticity criteria?


It’s a good question.

Even in India, not all sadhus are able to give an in-depth answer to this question. Sometimes some scientists, researchers, or spiritual seekers attempt to talk about the authenticity or inauthenticity of certain teachings or lineages. I do not really like the term “authenticity“. I would rather use the word "genuineness", or "comprehensiveness". But not everyone comprehends what this really means. And not everybody understands that each mature tradition, lineage, or dharma family has its own internal signs, or standards, of lineage comprehensiveness or genuineness – that is to say, of authenticity, passed to subsequent generations from one Master to another. Moreover, such traditions, lineages, or dharma families have their own quite thoroughly, and, I would say, even subtly and over-subtly developed internal methods for evaluation and testing of their disciples. Not all disciples, however, but those who choose to be successor teachers, lineage bearers, and holders of the teachings (vidyadharas). (The selection and training of disciples and vidyadharas is a totally separate, interesting, and rich topic).

So, these methods are kept secret in every Guru's family ("Pravar", or "Kula", i.e. family of sadhus), for obvious reasons - so that they cannot be revealed or copied. Therefore, by and large, it is absolutely useless to talk about the authenticity or non-authenticity of other lines without belonging to them, without being their initiates. If one does not belong to a lineage and its methods have not been revealed to him / her, then it will not be possible to determine the lineage’s authenticity, since there are no common criteria for such determination, except for the existence of a parampara.

Therefore, I will not talk about other traditions – only about ours.

Eight things make our tradition authentic.

First of all, the presence of a Guru-shishya parampara, an uninterrupted Moksha Dharma lineage.

A lineage is like a channel via which the divine knowledge is communicated from the Absolute itself, from the Creator, great gods, rishis, and siddhas – that is, saints.

We follow two lineages. The northern (Himalayan) lineage is that of Shiva, Dattatreya, and Juna Akhara (a Dattatreya’s order re-constituted by Shri Shankara). The other lineage is southern and is of Siddha Paambati and guru Sivaprabhakara Siddhayoga Brahmananda Avadhuta from Kerala.

Mе and my disciples always maintain close ties with both of these lineages – their masters, gurus, and devotees, and I spoke about this in detail many times.

All of this is the Guru-shishya-parampara, the channel for the communication of the teachings.

However, spiritual seekers have quite vague ideas that are not going beyond the concepts of "Diksha" or "Parampara". It is not enough to have an idea of a parampara as of a knowledge transfer channel. It is also necessary to understand what knowledge is to be transmitted via this channel. But this is commonly explained to none but the teachers-lineage holders.

Seven Treasures

Via this channel, Seven Treasures (Sapta Ratna) are communicated.

So, what is communicated through the lineage?

The first treasure is Shabda, or a sacred sound emanated by Absolute itself or by Brahma the Creator, who is one of the great Deities. That is, certain mantras (or at least one) are transmitted along this lineage. Even one mantra is good enough – because, as a sacred sound coming from Brahma the Creator and Brahman (or the Absolute), it has the ability to liberate.

The second treasure is Shastra (sacred texts).

The sacred texts of our tradition, such as the Upanishads, Puranas, and others, are also passed along our lineage.

The third treasure is Yukti, the proper interpretation method of the Vedantic philosophy worded in the Shastras. It is both a reasoning method and the actual teaching that dispels ignorance.

The next treasure is Devata. This means an uninterrupted contact with the gods, siddhas, and rishis belonging to the tradition, as well as with its Chosen Deity (Ishta Devata), His blessings, methods of His worshiping (Upasana) and invocation.

The fifth one is Upaya, which covers specific methods of practicing different types of yoga to achieve liberation and Samadhi.

The sixth one is Kripa, or Anugraha, or Shaktipatha, a wave of divine grace that is present in each generation of enlightened Masters, which comes through intercommunication (in the form of a satsang, Guru yoga, samaya, darshans, seva etc) and awakes the followers.

Anubhava is the most elusive of the Seven Treasures but is very important. This is something that unfailingly manifests itself in a follower who leads the right Sadhana. This is a personal mystical experience of enlightenment, which is reproduced in each generation of the followers in the same way and which must be confirmed by the masters. It cannot be transmitted (as it occurs by itself). Rather, it is Anubhava evaluation and testing methods that are transmitted.

So when all these factors are present, then the lineage can be called fully authentic, comprehensive, and complete. Lineage comprehensiveness is symbolically expressed with special sacred objects and symbols that are formally or informally passed to the disciples who hold the lineage. Personally, I am a proponent of formal ceremonies.

What is passed down in our lineage

Through our Guru-shishya parampara lineage, mantras (Guru Mantra etc.), the Triple Canon shastras, the Upanishads (with commentaries by Sri Shankaracharya), and other texts such as the upadeshas of the Lineage Masters, are passed on during the Diksha.

There’s also Yukti, a method of true reasoning that overcomes ignorance. It is transmitted in the form of Mahavakyas, or great sayings, whispered in the ear of a Lineage holder, or in the form of Guru's explanations. This too is an ancient transmission tradition. I was also initiated into it during my Mahamandaleshwar ordination at Kumbhamela-2010 in Haridwar. In our lineage, some Mahavakyas are given additional importance which is required for better understanding and practice.

Devata: methods of worshipping and invoking the blessings and power of a Chosen Deity, who is Adinatha Avadhuta Dattatreya in our case.

Upaya is all the major meditation and contemplation methods required for mind cultivation, entering into Samadhi, and acquirement of the fruits of the teaching.

Initiation into these methods can be received from me or my disciples.

Kripa, or Anugraha, is possible if each Guru Lineage generation has at least one awakened person who has experienced Samadhi.

I hope every generation of my disciples will have such teachers in the future, provided that they do their Seva and Sadhana well, and I hope this continuance will never be interrupted.

It is especially important to have Anugraha in each generation of realized teachers. I.e., if a guru has lived through awakening experiences, or a Samadhi experience, he can pass on such knowledge to his disciples. This is his divine charisma that inspires, removes karmic errors of the others, and restores the divine power of the scriptures and methods. In general, a lineage hinges on awakened teachers.

And finally, Anubhava. Here, all progressively depends not on the Lineage or Guru, but on the disciple, on the way he practices Sadhana. If he does his Sadhana properly and diligently, he will obtain all the necessary realization signs and spiritual experiences mentioned in the teachings (including non-dual Samadhi, the experiences of pure vision, contemplation, Shambhavi Mudra, Kundalini Yoga, nidra-yoga, etc.).

There are detailed methods for verification of these experiences outlined in different sections of the Teaching. But traditionally these methods are not revealed; otherwise, the followers may unconsciously want to “create” these experiences artificially.

So, according to our criteria, a lineage can be considered genuine and comprehensive, if all the Seven Jewels of Moksha Dharma are represented in it.

(A fragment from a satsang of Sri Guru Swami Vishnudevananda Giri)

Полнота и подлинность (аутентичность) духовной традиции



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