Just like we belong to the Brahma-sampradāya. There are four sampradāyas, Brahma-sampradāya, Śrī-sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya and Kumāra-samapradāya. They're all mahājanas. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ (CC Madhya 17.186). We have to accept the line of action which is given by the mahājana.
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The goddess of fortune, Lakṣmījī, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva are not independently powerful; they are powerful as expansions of the Supreme Lord, and all of them are engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and so also are the living entities. There are four sects of worshipful devotees of the Lord, and the chief amongst them are the Brahma-sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya and Śrī-sampradāya, descending directly from Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, respectively. Besides the above-mentioned three sampradāyas, there is the Kumāra-sampradāya, descending from Sanat-kumāra. All of the four original sampradāyas are still scrupulously engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord up to date, and they all declare that Lord Kṛṣṇa, Mukunda, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and no other personality is equal to Him or greater than Him.
It is also stated, vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ: Śambhu, Lord Śiva, is the greatest of all Vaiṣṇavas. On one hand he is the worshipable object of the dull demons, and on the other he is the best of all Vaiṣṇavas, or devotees, and he has a sampradāya called the Rudra-sampradāya. Even if he is an enemy or is sometimes angry, such a personality cannot be the object of envy, so Vidura, in astonishment, asked why he was taken as such, especially by Dakṣa.
Since people were engaged in useless occupations which would continue their material existence, Lord Śiva, in the form of Lord Advaita, appealed to the Supreme Lord to appear as Lord Caitanya to deliver these illusioned souls. Actually Lord Caitanya appeared on the request of Lord Advaita. Similarly, Lord Śiva has a sampradāya, the Rudra-sampradāya. He is always thinking about the deliverance of the fallen souls, as exhibited by Lord Advaita Prabhu.
The four Kumāras are paramparā spiritual masters of the Vaiṣṇava sampradāya. Out of the four sampradāyas, namely Brahma-sampradāya, Śrī-sampradāya, Kumāra-sampradāya and Rudra-sampradāya, the disciplic succession of spiritual master to disciple known as the Kumāra-sampradāya is coming down from the four Kumāras.
The Kumāras are called naiṣṭhika-brahmacārī, meaning they are never to marry. Because of their refusal to marry, Lord Brahmā became so angry that his eyes became reddish. From between his eyes, Lord Śiva, or Rudra, appeared. The mode of anger is consequently known as rudra. Lord Śiva also has a sampradāya party, known as the Rudra-sampradāya, and they are also known as Vaiṣṇavas.
Lord Śiva is known as the greatest devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is known as the best of all types of Vaiṣṇavas (vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ). Consequently, Lord Śiva has a Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, the disciplic succession known as the Rudra-sampradāya. Just as there is a Brahma-sampradāya coming directly from Lord Brahmā, the Rudra-sampradāya comes directly from Lord Śiva.
It is especially significant that Lord Śiva is a pure devotee of Lord Vāsudeva. Vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ: "Amongst all Vaiṣṇavas, Lord Śiva is the topmost." Consequently Lord Śiva has a sampradāya, a Vaiṣṇava disciplic succession, called the Rudra-sampradāya. At the present moment those who belong to the Viṣṇu Svāmī-sampradāya of Vaiṣṇavas come from Rudra, Lord Śiva.
Lord Rudra, or Lord Śiva, is the original ācārya of the Vaiṣṇava sampradāya called the Rudra-sampradāya. Rudra-gītena indicates that under the disciplic succession of Lord Rudra, the Pracetās achieved spiritual success.
Yamarāja states herein that this religious principle is understandable if one follows the paramparā system of Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, the four Kumāras and the other standard authorities. There are four lines of disciplic succession: one from Lord Brahmā, one from Lord Śiva, one from Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune, and one from the Kumāras. The disciplic succession from Lord Brahmā is called the Brahma-sampradāya, the succession from Lord Śiva (Śambhu) is called the Rudra-sampradāya, the one from the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmījī, is called the Śrī-sampradāya, and the one from the Kumāras is called the Kumāra-sampradāya. One must take shelter of one of these four sampradāyas in order to understand the most confidential religious system.
Here are four sampradāyas, or disciplic successions, namely the Brahma-sampradāya, the Rudra-sampradāya, the Śrī sampradāya and the Kumāra-sampradāya. If one wants to advance in spiritual power, one must receive his mantras from one of these bona fide sampradāyas; otherwise he will never successfully advance in spiritual life.
Unless one is extremely expert, he cannot understand the expert management of the supreme expert. One can understand, however, if one is fortunate enough to meet a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession from Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Mother Lakṣmī or the Kumāras. These four sampradāyas, or disciplic successions of knowledge and transcendence, are called the Brahma-sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya, Śrī-sampradāya, and Kumāra-sampradāya. Sampradāya-vihīnā ye mantrās te niṣphalā matāḥ. The knowledge of the Supreme received from such a sampradāya, or disciplic succession, can give one enlightenment.
Lord Śiva and his followers in the paramparā system try to save people from this dangerous condition of materialistic life. This is the duty of devotees following the principles of Lord Śiva and belonging to the Rudra-sampradāya. There are four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas, and the Rudra-sampradāya is one of them because Lord Śiva (Rudra) is the best of the Vaiṣṇavas (vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ). Indeed, as we shall see, Lord Śiva drank all the poison for the benefit of humanity.
The philosophers known as kevalādvaita-vādīs generally occupy themselves with hearing the Śārīraka-bhāṣya, a commentary by Śaṅkarācārya advocating that one impersonally consider oneself the Supreme Lord. Such Māyāvāda philosophical commentaries upon the Vedānta-sūtra are simply imaginary, but there are other commentaries on the Vedānta-sūtra. The commentary by Śrīla Rāmānujācārya, known as Śrī-bhāṣya, establishes the viśiṣṭādvaita-vāda philosophy. Similarly, in the Brahma-sampradāya, Madhvācārya's Pūrṇaprajña-bhāṣya establishes śuddha-dvaita-vāda. In the Kumāra-sampradāya, or Nimbārka-sampradāya, Śrī Nimbārka establishes the philosophy of dvaitādvaita-vāda in the Pārijāta-saurabha-bhāṣya. And in the Viṣṇu-svāmi-sampradāya, or Rudra-sampradāya, which comes from Lord Śiva, Viṣṇu Svāmī has written a commentary called Sarvajña-bhāṣya, which establishes śuddhādvaita-vāda.
Just like Vyāsadeva is hearing from Nārada. Nārada is authorized. He has heard from Brahmā. Brahmā has heard from Kṛṣṇa. So this is the paramparā system, disciplic succession. So there are four paramparā systems. They are known as, at the present moment, Rāmānuja-sampradāya, Brahma-sampra..., Brahma-samprada..., yes, Madhva-sampradāya, Brahma-sampradāya, Madhva-sampradāya, the same, and Rudra-sampradāya and Śrī-samp..., Śrī, Rāma, Kumāra-sampradāya. These is four sampradāyas. So we should hear from the sampradāya-ācārya by disciplic succession.
There are four disciplic successions of the devotees—the Brahma-sampradāya, the Rudra-sampradāya, the Śrī-sampradāya, and the Kumāra-sampradāya. So they are all the same.
There is a paramparā system. Kṛṣṇa, He instructed Lord Brahmā. Lord Brahmā instructed Nārada. Nārada instructed Vyāsadeva. Vyāsadeva instructed Madhvācārya. Madhvācārya instructed in so many ways. Then Mādhavendra Purī. The Mādhavendra Purī, Īśvara Purī. From Īśvara Purī, Lord Caitanya. In this way, there is a paramparā system. There are four Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas. The Rudra-sampradāya, Brahma-sampradāya, Kumāra-sampradāya, and Lakṣmī-sampradāya, Śrī-sampradāya.
Twelve mahājanas. We follow Lord Brahmā. Just like we belong to the Brahma-sampradāya, Madhvācārya-sampradāya. Gauḍīya..., Mādhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya. Caitanya Mahāprabhu's spiritual master was Īśvara Purī. Īśvara Purī's spiritual master was Mādhavendra Purī. And Mādhavendra Purī belonged to the Madhvācārya-sampradāya. Therefore we present ourself belonging to the Madhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya. Similarly... From Brahmā, there is one sampradāya. Similarly, there is another sampradāya from Lord Śiva, Rudra-sampradāya. And there is another sampradāya, Kumāra-sampradāya. Kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ. That is Nimbārka-sampradāya. Similarly, there is another sampradāya from Lakṣmī, Śrī-sampradāya, Rāmānuja-sampradāya.
The Bhagavad-gītā, knowledge must be received by the paramparā system, as it was spoken by Kṛṣṇa and as it has been received by the later ācāryas. Although there are different parties... Just like the Śrī-sampradāya, Brahma-sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya. They are all in agreement that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All these ācāryas. They'll not say anything that "Because I belong to Brahma-sampradāya, I speak something else." No. We are all in agreement that kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28). That is accepted.
One party is coming from Lord Brahmā, and one party is coming from Lakṣmī, goddess of fortune, or the consort of Nārāyaṇa, Viṣṇu. That is called Brahma-sampradāya and the Śrī-sampradāya. Śrī. Śrī means Lakṣmī. Śrī means beauty. Śrī means fortune. Therefore, according to Vedic system, the "śrī" word is added before anyone's name, śrī. So there is Śrī-sampradāya, and there is Kumāra-sampradāya, and there is Rudra-sampradāya. There are four sampradāyas of Viṣṇu, er, Vaiṣṇava. So Brahma-sampradāya, Śrī-sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya, and Kumāra-sampradāya—they are called āmnāya. If you want to know the truth, then you have to accept. Tattva āmnāyam. Tattva āmnāyaṁ yat pravadanti sāṅkhyam. This is Sāṅkhya philosophy. You try to understand the Absolute Truth through the disciplic succession of āmnāya, āmnāya.
So in the Vaiṣṇava sampradāya these four sampradāya, this Brahmā is Brahma-sampradāya and Śrī-sampradāya. The Brahma-sampradāya is, at the present moment, is represented by the Madhva-sampradāya. Just like we are belonging to the Madhva-gauḍīya-sampradāya, our original sampradāya from the Madhvācārya. So in that sampradāya, disciplic succession, there was Mādhavendra Purī. From Mādhavendra Purī his disciple is Īśvara Purī, and Īśvara Purī's disciple is Lord Caitanya. And we are coming through the disciplic succession of Lord Caitanya. Therefore our sampradāya is called Madhva-gauḍīya-sampradāya. But we are in the āmnāya-sampradāya. We are not upstart. We have not manufactured a sampradāya. It is coming from Lord Brahmā. Similarly, there is Rāmānuja-sampradāya. They are coming from Śrī-sampradāya. Similarly, there is Viṣṇu Svāmī. They are coming from Lord Śiva, Rudra-sampradāya. And there is Kumāra-sampradāya, Nimbāditya-sampradāya. So śāstra says, sampradāya-vihīnā ye mantrās te niṣphalā matāḥ: "If you do not belong to any sampradāya, party of bhakta or devotees, then niṣphalā matāḥ, your verdict or conclusion is niṣphala, without any fruit." It is not acceptable.
This is called āmnāya. "You follow the mahājana." And who are mahājana? They are also described in the śāstras: svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ (SB 6.3.20). Svayambhū means Lord Brahmā. Lord Brahmā is... Another name is Svayambhū. He was found in the lotus flower emanating from the navel of Viṣṇu. So practically, he was not born of father and mother; therefore he is called Svayambhū. Svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ. Nārada Muni is authority. And Śambhu, Lord Śiva. Therefore there is Rudra-sampradāya, āmnāya, because he is authority. Svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ kumāraḥ (SB 6.3.20), this Kumāra. And Kumāra means catuḥsana, Sanat-kumāra, catuḥsana. They are also authorities. And Kapiladeva, here, Devahūti-putra Kapiladeva, He is also authority. In this way, Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva, Kapiladeva, Manu, and Bhīṣmadeva, Janaka, Janaka Mahārāja, Bhīṣmadeva, and Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Prahlāda Mahārāja—in this way there are twelve authorities, and all of them are following the Sāṅkhya philosophy or bhakti-yoga, all of them.
So to understand the Absolute Truth, there are four recognized sampradāyas: the Brahma-sampradāya, the Rudra-sampradāya, the Kumāra-sampradāya, and the Śrī-sampradāya.
We belong to Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and Caitanya Mahāprabhu belongs to Madhvācārya-sampradāya. As I have already explained, there are mahājanas. So all mahājanas, they have got different sampradāyas. Just like Lord Brahmā, he has got his sampradāya; it is called Brahma-sampradāya. Similarly, Lord Śiva has his sampradāya; it is called Rudra-sampradāya. Lakṣmījī has got his (her) sampradāya; it is called Śrī-sampradāya.
Our, this sampradāya, Madhva-Gauḍīya sampradāya, they are following the authorities of Lord Brahmā and Nārada. Similarly, there is another sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya. Rudra-sampradāya. And there is another sampradāya coming from Lakṣmījī, Śrī-sampradāya, Rāmānuja. So we have to accept religious principles from the leaders of the sampradāyas. Otherwise it is useless.
Anyone who is bona fide ācārya, he can create his own disciplic succession, but one disciplic succession and the other disciplic—they are not different. They are of the same conclusion. The Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, just like our Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, and Nimbārka, and who that? Rudra-sampradāya? Viṣṇu Svāmī. They are all of the same movement.
Just like we, Gauḍīya-sampradāya, means we belong to the Brahma-sampradāya. Our sampradāya begins from Lord Brahmā. There are similarly other sampradāyas, just like Rudra-sampradāya, then Kumāra-sampradāya, and there is Lakṣmī-sampradāya, Rāmānuja-sampradāya. So there are four sampradāyas. Brahma-sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya, Kumāra-sampradāya and Lakṣmī-sampradāya. And if we do not take either of these sampradāyas in disciplic succession, then our attempt to advance in spiritual life will be failure.
Brahmā is the greatest personality within this universe, and he has got his sampradāya which is known as Brahma-sampradāya. Similarly Lord Śiva has also a sampradāya which is called Rudra-sampradāya. Similarly, Nārada-Pañcarātra, Kumāra-sampradāya. So follow the sampradāya. Sampradāya vihīnā te mantrās te viphalaṁ matāḥ. If you do not follow any bona fide sampradāya, then your path of spiritual advancement will be baffled. You will simply waste your time. Viphalaṁ matāḥ. So we should follow the footsteps of great ācāryas. Then our progress is positive. There is no fear.
Yamarāja said that "These are the eight authorities." Therefore we have got sampradāya: Brahma-sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya, then Lakṣmī-sampradāya, Śrī-sampradāya, and Kumāra-sampradāya. The present ācāryas, they are Rāmānuja-sampradāya, Śrī-sampradāya, Madhva-sampradāya, Brahma-sampradāya. In this way... So we have to follow the footprints of the sampradāya.
There are four Vaiṣṇava sampradāya originally: from Lord Brahmā, Brahmā-sampradāya; and from Lord Śiva, Rudra-sampradāya; and from goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, Śrī-sampradāya; and from the catuḥ-sana, four kinds of sanas, Sanat Kumāra, Sananda, like that. So the four sampradāya is coming from time immemorial.
So to become actually devotee we have to follow these mahājana. Svayambhūḥ is Brahmā, and... Svayambhūr... Nārada Muni, and Śambhu, Lord Śiva. They have got their parties, or their paramparā system—Brahmā-sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya Śrī-sampradāya, and Kumāra-sampradāya. In this way we have to accept the sampradāya and follow.
Prabhupāda: So ācārya, who is ācārya? Then next question will be: who is ācārya? Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ (BG 4.2). Those who are coming, the ācārya-sampradāya. Śrī-sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya, the four sampradāyas. So unless... Sampradāya vihīnā ye mantrās te viphalāḥ... Unless one comes to the ācārya disciplic succession, whatever nonsense he speaks, it is all useless. This is the most important thing, ācāryopāsanam.
Dr. Patel: Guru. I think Viṣṇu Svāmī was his śiṣya.
Prabhupāda: No. Viṣṇu Svāmī-sampradāya, different. That is Rudra-sampradāya. And Rāmānujācārya is Śrī-sampradāya. The Vallabhācāryas, they belong to Viṣṇu Svāmī. We belong to Madhva-sampradāya. Four ācāryas.
Here it is said, mahājana, Svāyambhu. Svāyambhu means Brahmā, Lord Brahmā. So our, this sampradāya, Gauḍīya sampradāya, is Brahma-sampradāya. And Svāyambhu, Nārada. Nārada is also in the brahma-sampradāya. And Śambhu, Lord Śiva, he is also mahājana. He has got his sampradāya, Rudra-sampradāya. And similarly, Śrī-sampradāya. So all these sampradāya we must follow. Sampradāya vihina ye mantras te niṣphala mataḥ. If you do not belong to sampradāya, mahājana, then you are useless. You cannot concoct any religious system.
There are four Sampradayas from the beginning of the creation. One is called Brahma Sampradaya, and is coming down by disciplic succession from Brahma; another Sampradaya is coming down from Laksmi, called Sri Sampradaya; another is coming down from the Kumaras, they are known as Nimbarka Sampradaya; another Sampradaya is coming from Lord Siva, Rudra Sampradaya or Viṣṇu Svāmī. These are four bona fide Sampradayas that are accepted by the bona fide spiritualists.
Principally there are four sampradayas; Nimbarka sampradaya coming from the four Kumaras; Sri Sampradaya coming from Laksmi; Rudra Sampradaya coming from Lord Siva; and Brahma Sampradaya. Vivasvan is in the Brahma Sampradaya. All the sampradayas are related with one another because the conclusion is the same: that Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living entities are His eternal servants.
There were four listeners when Krishna instructed Arjuna, so there are four bona fide Visnu sampradayas. Ramanuja is in the Sri or Laksmi sampradaya, Nimbarka is in the Kumara sampradaya, Vallabhacarya is a follower of Visnu svami or Rudra sampradaya, like that. Besides the Visnu sampradayas, there are other sampradayas, but they are following the directions given under off-shoot authorities. They have created so many, but these are not recognized by us. The four Visnu sampradayas are authorized by us, they are the original authorized sampradayas or religion, the Vaisnava religion.