For thousands of years, bansuri students have been taught through the ancient tradition of guru-shishya Parampara. Guru-shishya is derived from two Sanskrit words: “guru”, which means teacher; and “shishya” which means student. In this system, the guru imparts their knowledge to students, who then pass the same knowledge on to their students.
Parampara is a compound Sanskrit word consisting of two parts: param, meaning higher, and aparam, which means lower. Parampara denotes the passing of “gyan”, or knowledge from the guru to their student. In guru-shishya Parampara, the guru imparts not only the technical skills of playing the bansuri, but also instructs the student to become a guru and pass on the knowledge to future generations of students.
The guru-shishya parampara differs from the modern education system because it relies on oral transmission of knowledge. In its early beginnings, because there was no written medium, students were trained to absorb the teachings of their guru through memorization. This approach remains effective to this day as it promotes a deep understanding of the instrument and allows the student to retain and share their knowledge without having to rely on any external source.
The guru-shishya Parampara is a time-honored tradition in the study of the bansuri. Its unique teaching style emphasizes the personal connection between teacher and student, encouraging a deep understanding of the instrument. This transmission of knowledge also provides students with a lifelong connection with the instrument, as well as the ability to continue the tradition by becoming a guru for future generations. Some values of guru-shishya Parampara are also absorbed in the modern education system, and highlights the importance of traditional methods of teaching and learning.