Viramarga organization is essentially a scaled-up elaboration of the master-apprentice system. Ranks are fairly simple, and denote degree of skill rather than a formal hierarchy. A student is deemed to be of a given degree when declared to be so by a master; a master by their taking a student. Formally the rest of the Viramargan school has no role; in practice, however, it would be a grave dishonor to have one’s status challenged by another, so awards are rarely given controversially. But disputes have risen in the past.
Anagarika. One who has been accepted as a student by a Viramargan master. While much training is in practice done by senior students, it is the master that determines the course of the student’s study. While it is common for a student to study under many masters, they must always have the permission of their chosen master for this, or else be released to be chosen by another.
Upasaka. One who has been deemed competent in one or more skills by a Viramargan master. Many leave at this point for careers in the Army, and are content to accurately describe themselves as ‘Viramargan trained’. Others stay, studying existing skills more deeply, or adding others.
Samanera. One who has had their training deemed ‘complete’. Sometimes these are called ‘Viramargan graduates’, because all leave at this point, at least for a period of time. (Some will later return for further study, however, and are regarded as having the same status as before.) The term is somewhat misleading, however, as no examinations exist, or even fixed standards of achievement. The largest portion of these join the Marcher Rangers, which consists entirely of those with this degree of training, or those rare few acknowledged their equivalent. This force is often spoken off synonymously with Viramarga, though in theory the two are quite distinct.
Sangha. Typically new masters are returned graduates who in due course seem ready to teach students of their own, but on occasion an outside-dwelling Viramargan is recognized as having achieved the status independently. Masters are free to take as many or as few students as they wish, though for those living as part of the Basho community, there exists a tacit expectation and an amount of peer pressure to teach at least a certain proportion of those whose talents and desires seem a match for what they’re best able to teach. Individual cases can often seem fairly whimsical, however. There is no fixed number of masters; it is generally assumed that a master must be the acknowledged supremely skilled individual in one area of study. Some accordingly remain ‘senior students’, or abroad in the world performing other tasks, for a long period while an existing master remains supreme. This situation persists until the existing master dies, becomes too weakened by age to teach, or the new teacher defines some slightly — or as with the coming of new technologies such as firearms, wholly — different set of skills.
Many Viramargans are granted a military rank, or its equivalent. Some work in the Army proper, others in other paramilitary forces, still others yet are given rank on a mysterious ‘as needed’ basis. Some have a rank before ever coming to study. Never is this rank in any way related to status in Viramarga itself.
Basho as a whole is governed by the masters collectively. One of their number is acknowleged as the master of masters/seniormost, but rarely is this individual especially prominent in the practical running of the school/settlement.
The Atash Bagram are often seen as the “magical division” of Viramarga.