Last Updated: April 10, 2016

Definition - What does Disciple mean?

A disciple is someone who learns from a teacher, who is most often a spiritual teacher. The term is commonly used in Christianity to refer to the students and followers of Jesus as described in the New Testament. A disciple is different from an apostle in that a disciple is the one who studies with the teacher and learns from them, whereas the apostle is generally tasked with delivering teachings or messages.

In yoga, the word refers to a person who goes to a teacher or guru to find God and, in doing so, creates a deep spiritual connection with that guru.

Yogapedia explains Disciple

The word, disciple, has roots in the Latin word, discipulus, which means “learner.”

In the Self-Realization Fellowship, a yoga institution founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, relationships between disciples and gurus are formally established through an initiation into Kriya yoga -- also called a diksha. It is said that when the disciple is ready, their guru will be sent by God.

The teachings, wisdom and intelligence of the guru are the vehicles through which God is able to guide the disciple. The disciple is then able to perceive God through following their guru’s teachings. It is the disciple’s demand for spiritual enlightenment which leads to the guru being appointed to take on this sacred role.

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