The word chela comes from the Hindi celā and the Sanskrit ceta, meaning "servant" or "slave." In Hinduism is used to denominate the religious student or disciple of a spiritual master or guru.
In theosophy the term is frequently used to denominate a candidate for initiation into the occult sciences. In her Theosophical Glossary H. P. Blavatsky defines it as follows:
Chelâ (Sk.). A disciple, the pupil of a Guru or Sage, the follower of some adept of a school of philosophy (lit., child).