I guess a sect (सम्प्रदाय ) is one that only subscribes to a subset of Hindu beliefs and/or worships only a subset of Hindu gods. Is there anything in scriptures about this? What is the etymology of the word SampradAye (सम्प्रदाय)?

  • 1
    I have edited your question. Revert it if unacceptable. Btw, there is nothing wrong with sectarianism unless you are follower of Rajneesh or Krishnamurthy. :) Apr 3, 2018 at 16:05
  • astoundingly, wiki gives a decent defition: "In Hinduism, a sampradaya ( Sanskrit : सम्प्रदाय IAST sampradāya) can be translated as ‘tradition’ , 'spiritual lineage' or a ‘religious system’.[1][note 1] It relates to a succession of masters and disciples, which serves as a spiritual channel, and provides a delicate network of relationships that lends stability to a religious identity.[1]"
    – S K
    Apr 3, 2018 at 16:16
  • I am not sure what's wrong with the downvoters.. what is sampradaya as per scriptures is definitely a valid Q..
    – Rickross
    Apr 3, 2018 at 17:13
  • related hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/6712/…
    – zaxebo1
    Apr 4, 2018 at 13:31

2 Answers 2


Yes there is. Srimad Bhagavatam explains the reason for differences between sects.

Explanation of different interpretations

Just as one object with various attributes is seen differently through the different senses (say, a flower fragrant to the nose, soft to the touch, and beautiful to the eye), - even so that one Bhagavan is viewed and interpreted differently by different philosophies and scriptural writings in the light of their particular traditions. (He is one and the same, but each religion or philosophy seeks to interpret Him in consonance with its own tradition and concepts.)

Srimad Bhagavata Purana, translated by Swami Tapasyananda, III.32.33

  • I don't see "sect" here (is there a sanskrit word for it?). Just traditions and philosophies.
    – S K
    Apr 3, 2018 at 13:20
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    A sect is one whose philosophy and tradition are different from another sect. The paragraph quoted is definitely talking about sects. Apr 3, 2018 at 13:26
  • And sects have names - Ramanandi, Dashanami and so forth.
    – S K
    Apr 3, 2018 at 15:23


Etymology: sampradAya = sam + pra + dAya "a bestower, a presenter".

  • sam: "(together) with"
  • pra: "forth"
  • dAya: derived from root dA "to give, to present, to offer" dAya = absolutive II

All lexical meanings are from


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    sam is used to denote samyak (complete/comprehensive) and pra to indicate prakRSTa(elevated/noble/sublime). dAya= that which is given/handed down.
    – user1195
    Apr 4, 2018 at 8:12
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    Notes based on edit to the OP- 1. vigraha is a linguistic feature in Sanskrit that is often used to explain the full meanings of words. A simplistic splitting of syllables is often insufficient. 2. A bestower or presenter is a dAta not a dAya. So the breakup of the word given in the answer is incorrect.
    – user1195
    Apr 4, 2018 at 9:03
  • Please check Monier-Williams; what about his translation?
    – Jo Wehler
    Apr 4, 2018 at 9:52
  • Checked. 1. The meanings I gave align with the meanings suggested in the lexicon for sam. 2. dAya is translated as present and not giver even by Monier-Williams.3. As for pra, there are multiple meanings and the right one has to be picked up based on context and this is where padacchEda, padArtha and vigraha concepts come into the picture. So in this context the meanings of "great", "very, excessive" must be taken.
    – user1195
    Apr 4, 2018 at 12:54
  • I added a clip from Monier-Williams.
    – Jo Wehler
    Apr 4, 2018 at 14:43

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