Most, if not all, of the sampradayas of Vaishnavism, Saivism, Shaktism etc. have an initiation or diksha process for even common folks to be part of the particular sampradaya they are attracted to/meant for. Now, at least in the southern states to my knowledge, there are many smartha families that claim to be followers/devotees of one of the 2 major mutts associated with Adi Sankaracharya. My question is how do people/families in general claim lineage or association with a particular mutt if there was no initiation done? How to they accept either of the Sankaracharyas as their Guru? Because, to my knowledge, the sankara sampradaya does initiation process only for sanyaasis. Has Adi Sankaracharya given any instructions in this regard?
It has been close to a month since I asked this question but unfortunately, no one has an answer. Therefore, I am going to attempt an answer based on what I have read and heard with references I could gather.
As far as I have seen, from my direct experience as part of the 'iyer' community, there is no separate diksha or initiation process to become part of the Shankara Sampradaya for common folk. Nor is there a practice of sticking to a lineage of family acharya, aside of the madathipathis (again, only with reference to Sringeri and Kanchi, don't know about the other mathams).
This page describes the process of upanayanam as "initiation" but it is certainly not in the same sense of the diksha or samaashrayanam. Also, another difference that I have noticed is that only sanyaasis are eligible for such diksha in Shankara sampradaya. Or should I say, one is required to take up sanyaasa along with the diksha. Not so in the case of, say Srivaishnava sampradayas as can be seen in the answer by Shriman Keshav Srinivasan to this question.
The most interesting link I had come across while on the search for this topic is this, on the worldly departure of Brahmasri C V Kamakoti Shastrigal, Srividya Sthanigam of Sri Kanchi Kamakshi Temple.
Here, it is clearly mentioned that he had received some form of diksha from one Brahmasri Chidanandanatha (Sri 'Sir' Subrahmanya Iyer) in Srividya upasana. This also indicates that being considered a 'smartha', subscribing to 'advaita' and following what is clearly a 'shakta' practice are all totally disconnected. One more example is given here.
An ardent worshipper of Amba in the form of Sri Bala Tripurasundari, his Diksha name was Sri Balanandanatha. He has thousands of loving disciples who have received invaluable guidance from him in Srividya Upasana.
The article also mentions that he had come in touch with Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal of Kumbhakonam Mutt. The article also states this:
Sri Shastrigal, apart from being a scholar par excellence, was a great Mantra Siddha who helped hundreds with his mantra Siddhi. He was very close to H H Paramacharya Sri Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal and remained his most trusted Shishya.
Even with the usage of the word sishya here, it can be safely assumed that there was no diksha link between them, because history tells us that only 2 people were given diksha by Paramacharya. This point also has an interesting fact for those people who can grasp it.
So, to conclude, there is no known process for diksha for non-sanyaasis in the Shankara sampradaya. The connection of families to particular Shankara mathams was mostly through familial traditions or through attraction to the individual mathams.
let me clarify you something what my elder have said and what i have understood based on my experience with my guru mahaperiyava. Note: u may think y this guy is talking all about his personal experience but don’t hesitate to read, u will understand what iam intending to say many a times i have admirred on couple of things among those, one stone peice thing is shankara sampradaya and the matams,in my childhood days my father,grandmother and mother has told me about kanchi mahaperiyava but i dint know even myself at that age, i was a kid later days i dint like him because i had an thought like is he higher than a god.but i am a regular visitor of matam those days with the same thought and I like the way chandramouleshwara and thirpurasundari pooja in matam performed . I was in same stage till my 11th standard after that time suddenly a couple of day started felling the presence of mahaperiyava with me after my sisters death and grandfathers death but I dint even worship him at that time.after some day we went to matam and saw mahaperiyava adhistanam and was watching chandramouleshwarar pooja by jeyendra periyava he signaled me and said come. After the pooja I went to him and he asked me to sit near him.he asked me to perform sandhyavandhanam regularly.the reply I gave made someone laugh at me and some other gave weid looks.”seri pandren mama”I gave reply and same thing happened with balaperiyava too.both smiled and gave a fruit. years went ,in tamil adiyargal used to say “valiyaatkonda emperuman”though I hesitate to worship mahaperiyava he entered into me I don’t when and don’t know how much bhakthi I have on him but he comes in my dreams weekly twice or atleast once .for ur information my family(ie 6 generation ancestors are followers of kanchi peetam )my father Is follower of both the Sringeri and kanchi and I too follow both peetam especially both Chandra periyava chandrashekarendra Saraswathi mahaperiyava and chendrashekara Bharathi mahasannidhanam coming to ur query since many people were diversed in many mathas not the todays so called mathas iam telling those days there were 1000s of mathas which were deviating people but some sect of pandits and scholars who were direct disciples of vyasa,shukha,gowdapada,govindhapagavath pada etcc..were worried about the advaitha sampradaya due to its weak strength of followers .those days normal scholars use to study vedas and Vedanta under these kind of yatishwaras even adhishankara bagavathpada and gowdapada and govindha pada had lots of gruhasta ashrama students who were spreading advaitha vedantha among common peoples without being a sanyasa.even adishankaras father was a great advaithi he taught many Vedanta to peoples in kerala when there was a religion disputes and sampradaya disputes.but this wasn’t visible to our eyes to be frank. govindha bagavathpada was in tapas to bring the sampradaya to a greater extent and to bring a great change among peoples. In sri rudram ,parameshwaran has said I love to be a yatishwaran and I will come as same soonly”yukteshwaran”to fruftify govindha acharyas tapas ,the time came ,shankara came as adi shankara, he was teaching and changing all peoples to advaitha siddhantha in larger extend with keeping veda as pramanam,vyasa accepted this to proceed with his adwaitha yatra, when he was in and near kumbakonnam he had difficulty in spreading adwaitha due to dwaitha shaivisham and dwaitha vishnavam he got upset and wanted to know whether he can continue spreading adwaitha among people he instantly reached the near by shiva temple ,which is none other than the Mahalingeshwara temple in Tiruvidaimarudhur. Bagavan said Advaitham sathyam he happiely started spreading the school of thought.he dint see any bedham like gruhastan,sanyasi,bramhachari etc.taught everyone, my elders would say when adhishankara used to travel asethu himachalam lakhs of peoples including students and disciples travel with him.u may have a dought about student and disciple(a non sanyasi is a student and a sanyasi is a disciple to his guru,but acharyal taught both of them in same way he dint showed any partiality among them)acharyal knows his final period and he wanted the samanya janas to understand the realiy so he erected many matams he send his disciples to enthrone the matam simhasanam and he sat in one of those matam and established them and installed eeshwaran that kailasha pathi gave and ambal in selective places and instructed the forecomming acharyas to continue the service and take people in right path .not only adishankara pratyaksha acharyas of kanchi and Sringeri has intiated many peoples in advaitha anubhavam and many mantra sadhana(to saamanya janas)in freed of caste,sex ,etcc U may ask me again after all this explanation how this people(samanya janam) came to this matam sampradayam.this small incidence would explain u .adhi shankara was master of all arts he wanted the regular people to follow adwaitha sampradayam but they were scattered in many sampradaya.he played small magic tricks to solve the problems faced by those people in their life ,its like attraction, Those people literally felt at his feat after listening to his word and seeing his brahma tejas,and understanding the reality and the experience of adwaitha annubhuthi.it kept on increasing ,after peoples of other sampradhaya started loosing in debate with acharya, peoples understood the fact and surrendered them to acharya. Summary or moral anyway: time might changed but adwaitham has not changed either they get attracted to acharyas anugrahabhashyam or they follow the age old tradition of there family.it is unnecessary to us do continuose bhakthi to acharyal hold his legs he will pick us in his hands and put us in shoulders .sometimes people used to switch to other matam based on the teaching and expressings of acharyal.its truly based on the personal interest im telling about current peoples in olden days people used to say that acharya and matams are the spiritual assert so they wont switch over mostly I literally fell in love with my acharya after his vision on me (note:I haven’t seen mahaperiyava(chandrashekarendra Saraswathi) in sthula vigraham I meet him only in swapnam,because I was born 4 years after his videka mukthi) Thanks for making me to explain what I know If any mistakes or if u got hurt please forgive for all Sri gurubhyo namaha,sri matre namaha,om namashivaya