Gurukkal (the last consonant is pronounced as a retroflex lateral approximant; Malayalam script: ഗുരുക്കള്) is a term used in the Malayalam language which means guru or teacher. Masters or teachers of yoga and kalaripayat are usually referred to as Gurukkal. In kalaripayat the master is also called a "Kalari Gurukkal". The word is derived from the Sanskrit word guru and the -kkal ending indicates plurality. This is due to the practice in Malayalam of adding plural suffixes to words to indicate respect, even when only one person is being addressed or referred to (e.g. ācāryar, Bhīṣmar etc.).
In Kalarippayattu, the master is referred to in plural to denote that it is, in fact, the lineage of masters who is imparting the knowledge. Thus the master is the cumulative result and the embodiment of all the previous teachers of his lineage.