Six essential qualifications of a disciple

A worshipable bronze statue of the Vaishnava poet Vedanta Deshika

Many years ago, on the day after Christmas Day (that’s called Boxing Day here in Britain) I was invited to the home of Walter Schwartz, the religions correspondent of the Guardian newspaper. Amongst other things he told me: “I don’t like religions with lists.” I feel an apology to Walter coming on – and to anyone like him – as I present yet another useful list.

This time its taken from a book written many centuries ago by the great Sri Vaishnava writer Vedanta Deshika (1268-1370). The book is known as the Srimad Rahasyatrayasastra and this section is known as the Sishyakrityadhikara.

1. The disciple must have the highest devotion for the preceptor.

2. The wise disciple spreads the name of the guru.

3. The good disciple cares for the guru’s property and possessions.

4. The disciple protects the teachings of the guru with a view to transferring them to a worthy disciple.

5. The disciple is always grateful to the guru.

6. The disciple leads a pure life untainted by wrong habits and practises. The disciple should have the eight virtues of the soul as taught by Gautama:

a. Compassion  b. Patience  c. Contentment  d. Purity  e. Earnest endeavour

f. Noble thoughts  g. Absence of greed  h. Absence of envy


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