By Swami Harshananda
Sampradāya literally means ‘that which is given or handed over in succession’.
Significance of Sampradāya
Sampradāya or tradition, wherein a knowledge or a way of life is handed over from a guru to a disciple or a group of disciples, has a very important place in religion. Many times a guru does not impart all that he knows to his disciples. From among those who live with him and serve him he may choose one or two as the fittest to receive that knowledge he has kept back. This often matters more than the open teaching or the books. Because of this reason, sampradāya is important.
Types of Sampradāya
A peculiar trait of religion is that all sciences and arts are often traced to God Himself as the originator. Sometimes it may be a great Ṛsi or sage also. ‘Sampradāya’ may also mean the body of the founder-teachers and their immediate disciples. There are different sampradāyas in each of the sciences or arts or fields of wisdom.
Works of Sampradāya
It is strongly believed that those mantras which are not handed down through a sampradāya are useless and hence do not produce their results. Some works like the Aktisañgamatantra give long lists of sampradāyas such as:
- Guru means the teacher.
- Aktisañgamatantra 1.8
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore