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It is believed that one needs to be initiated by a bona-fide spiritual master in the bona-fide disciplic succession, otherwise the mantra he learnt from any other sources is useless. The proper way to learn scriptures is that one should approach a guru in the bona-fide sampradaya. Now, my question is that how can I conclude that which disciplic succession is bona fide and which is not? Do scriptures say anything about this?

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    This question will probably be closed as opinion based, so I'll post this as a comment, but a bona-fide sampradaya is one that adheres to scripture as much as it can, does not interpret scripture to suit their own whims or other modern fancies, one that traces its lineage to ancient and recognized Rishis, and one that has Vedic scholars who actually do Vedadhyayanam. Most modern Hindu movements such as Neo-Vedanta and Arya Samaj lack all or most of these requirements. – Ikshvaku Jan 15 at 16:55
  • @Ikshvaku I asked " DO scriptures say anything about this?" So, people can answer from scriptures also. – Spark Sunshine Jan 15 at 16:57
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    Another thing is how logically sound the arguments and the beliefs of a sampradaya are. For example, Advaita has lots of logical fallacies, and Neo Vedantins ignore and dismiss certain verses they find inconvenient. – Ikshvaku Jan 15 at 16:59
  • And Did Mimamsakas follow Sampradaya? If no, how did they learn? @Ikshvaku – Spark Sunshine Jan 15 at 17:00
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    @NaveenKick Oh, they did have a Sampradaya. It started from Jaimini, then went through Shabara, who wrote a Bhashya on the Purva Mimamsa sutras, then there was Kumarila Bhatta of medieval times. So they did have a Sampradaya. – Ikshvaku Jan 15 at 17:08
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Any valid sect (Sampradaya) must start with God. And then it comes to us through the 3 lines (Pangktis) of Gurus viz- Divyauga (Divine Gurus), Siddhaugha (Celestial Gurus) and Manavaugha (Human Gurus).

For Kaulism (a branch of Shaktism) these 3 lines of Gurus are as follows:

Divyaughe ChAdinAthashcha Tacchshaktischa sadAshivaha|
Tathpatni Cheswarastasya BhAryA Rudrascha Tadvaduhu||
Vishnushcha TathpriyA BrahmA TathkanthA DwAdaseritAha|

The Divyauga Guru Pangti consists of 12 Gurus viz - Adinatha, Sadashiva, Iswara, Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma along with their respective shaktis or consorts.

Siddhaughe Sanakaishchaba Sanandashcha SanaAtanah|
SanatkumArascha SanathsujAtascha Rhibhukshajah||
DattAtreyo Raibtako VAmadevastathaha Parma|
Tato VyAsah Sukaishchava Ekadasha SamiritA||

The Celestial Gurus are 11 in number and they are - Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatana, Sanathkumara, Sanath-Sujath, Rhibhukshaja, Dattatreya, Raivataka, Vamadeva & Vyasa.

MAnvaughe Nrisimhashcha Mahesho BhAskara TathA|
Mahendro MAdhavo Vishnu Shadethe Cha PrakirtithAha||

The human line of Gurus consists of six Gurus namely - Nrisimha, Mahesha, Bhaskara, Mahendra, Madhava & Vishnu.

KulArnava Tantram, Chapter 6, Verses 64-67.

So, the Sampradaya started from Adi Natha (or Shiva) and the knowledge (Mantras etc) passed on to other deities and then to the celestial beings and finally to the chosen human beings. In this manner finally we receive Mantras etc from that particular Sampradaya Gurus.

For the Natha Sampradaya one such Parampara is:

Adinatha → Atrinath → Dattatreya → Janardana → Ekanatha → Nityananda → Krishnananda → Vishibananda → Muhranatha → Ranganatha → Gopalanatha → Balabhadranatha → Dilvarnatha → Sundarnatha → Brahmanatha → Gambhirnatha → Digvijayanatha → Navaminatha → Kamalnatha → Mithileshnatha → Matsyendranath

,which again started from Adi Natha (Shiva).

For another Sampradaya, called Trika Kaula (popularly known as Kashmiri Shaivism), the various lines of the Gurus are given in this answer.

So, when you approach any Sampradaya for Diksha you should be able to verify from them whether that particular Sampradaya started from God or not and also how it propagated. Only if it started from God it is a valid sect, otherwise not.

All bonafide Sampradyas have such lists of Guru Paramparas which usually will have the 3 lines (Pangktis) I have mentioned.

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There is no 'pope' in the Vedic tradition, no ultimate judge as to who is 'bona fide' and who is not. Many teachers, including those who are misguided, claim descent from various lineages of teachers, so claimants of a certain lineage is not a means to judge a teacher or a sampradaya. The exact lineage of all sampradayas is lost in the fog of time. The Mundaka Upanishad I.ii.12 says (Swami Nikhilananda translator):

Let a brahmin, after having examined the these worlds that are gained by works, acquire freedom from desires; nothing that is eternal can be produced by what is not eternal. In order that he may understand that Eternal, let him, fuel in hand, approach a guru who is well versed in the Vedas and always devoted to Brahman.

and Sri Shankaracharya says in his work, Upadesa Sahasri (A Thousand Teachings) I.1.6, Swami Jagadananda translator:

The teacher is one who is endowed with the power of furnishing arguments pro and con, of understanding questions (put by the disciple) and remembering (so as to answer them) them, who possesses tranquility, self-control, compassion and a desire to help others, who is versed (through instructions handed down to him) in the scriptures and unattached to enjoyments of both seen (i.e., both here and hereafter) and unseen, who has renounced the means to all all kinds of actions, who is a knower of Brahman and established in It, is never a transgressor of the rules of conduct, and who is devoid of shortcomings such as ostentation, pride, deceit, cunning, jugglery, jealousy, falsehood, egotism and attachment. He has the sole aim of helping others and a desire to impart the knowledge of Brahman only. He should first of all teach the Sruti texts establishing the oneness of the Self with Brahman such as "My child, in the beginning it (the universe) was Existence only, one alone without a second" (Chandogya Upanishad 6.2.1), "Where one sees nothing else" (Chandogya Upanishad 7.24.1), "All this is but the Self" (Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.2), "In the beginning all this was but the one Self" (Aitareya Upanishad 1.1.1), and "All this is verily Brahman." (Chandogya Upanishad 3.14.1).

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Bonafied Sampradya the matha acharya should have written commentaries for the below three Besides various other Granthas.

  1. Bhagavad Geetha (Madhva, Sankara and Ramanujacharya)
  2. Upanishad (Madhva, Sankara and Vedanta Desikan)
  3. Brahma Sutra (Madhva, Sankara and Ramanujacharya)
  • So, you mean Saiva Siddhanta, Kashmir Shaivism aren't bona-fide sampradaya, since they don't subscribe to the Vedanta school? – Spark Sunshine Jan 16 at 6:10
  • Didnt mean anything about other sampradhaya.. basically south indian vedantic school regards like this.. Why? Brahma Sutra is the base, BG and Upanishad.. these are called prashna thrya scripture.. if anyone need to establish their sampradhaya in the south india vedantic school system.. they need to write commentaries.. explaining there way of deciphering the scripture – Prasanna R Jan 16 at 6:14
  • @PrasannaR Sampradayas mostly come from Agamic/Tantric lines... – Rickross Jan 16 at 6:25
  • @Rickross following of legacy rules and procedure is specified Agama/Tantra or Vedic scripture, purana. But Sampradaya is the one which actually decipher the meaning of this ritual.. Suppose if you perform any karma our skalpa will be based on sampradhaya and also the primary deity that is worshipped as antaryami. The actual rules will still remain the same. – Prasanna R Jan 16 at 12:47
  • I meant to say writing commentaries on Prasthatrayi has nothing to do with the authenticity of a Sampradaya.. Any sect which has started from God and the teachings (mantras,philosophies etc) are carried forward to us by those Guru lines is an authentic one.. @PrasannaR – Rickross Jan 17 at 12:48

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