Kula, kulin, kulācārya

‘Kula’ in Sanskrit means a family, and in śākta-śaiva traditions denotes a small, close group around a teacher (ācārya), thus called kulācārya. Kulin is the name for a member of the kula. Luckily these terms have not been misused and defiled in the West, yet. Therefore, we use them as appropriate terms in our school, too.

A kula can be created only by a śikharin, a close follower of our school, who has acquired the respective empowering. To be a kulācārya is not easy; he or she must be able operate in a confidence-based space and is responsible for his or her kulins in all ways. A kulācārya outwardly represents our school and is partially a public person. He or she should live life keeping this in mind.

Every person attending a kula is a kulin independently at whatever level he or she has advanced to. ‘Kulin’ is thus an umbrella term. A kulācārya can be a kulin in a kula of another kulācārya.

A kulācārya can lead one or more kulas, usually one for beginners and one for advanced kulins. It is up to the kulācārya’s own decision as to how to set up and organize kulas, including giving them names. But there are some criteria to be followed. Our teaching method via classes form an important jāla-scheme upon which kulas should be created. They don’t lecture about what and how to teach, rather they indicate a broad picture of what kinds of disciplines belong or do not belong to a particular level. The content and the spiritual know-how in a kula are worked out by the kulācārya.

A kulācārya not only follows the principles outlined in the article Precepts for teachers, but also lives it with his or her entire being.