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Quotes by Srila Prabhupada on the Four Vaisnava Sampradayas

Here are some quotes by Srila Prabhupada on the Four Vaisnava Sampradayas.  They are organized first by quotes about all four in general, and then by individual line.

General quotes


"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 Visnu Swami. These are four bona fide Sampradayas that are accepted by the bona fide spiritualists. The Impersonalist Sampradaya is not original, neither the Impersonalist Sampradaya or party can help us. At the present moment there are so many Sampradayas, but we have to test them about their method of disciplic understanding. Anyway, all the four Sampradayas above mentioned, they are after worshipping the Supreme Lord Visnu, in His different Expansions, and some of them are in favor of worshipping Radha Krishna."

Srila Prabhupada Letter to Upendra, 02-13-68, Boston



"There are four sects of worshipful devotees of the Lord, and the chief amongst them are the Brahma-sampradaya, Rudra-sampradaya and Sri-sampradaya, descending directly from Lord Brahma, Lord Siva and the goddess of fortune, Laksmi, respectively. Besides the above-mentioned three sampradayas, there is the Kumara-sampradaya, descending from Sanat-kumara. All of the four original sampradayas are still scrupulously engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord up to date, and they all declare that Lord Krsna, Mukunda, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and no other personality is equal to Him or greater than Him."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:18:21 Purport



"The philosophers known as kevaladvaita-vadis generally occupy themselves with hearing the Sariraka-bhasya, a commentary by Sankaracarya advocating that one impersonally consider oneself the Supreme Lord. Such Mayavada philosophical commentaries upon Vedanta are simply imaginary, but there are other commentaries on Vedanta philosophy. The commentary by Srila Ramanujacarya, known as Sri-bhasya, establishes the visistadvaita-vada philosophy. Similarly, in the Brahma-sampradaya, Madhvacarya's Purnaprajna-bhasya establishes suddha-dvaita-vada. In the Kumara-sampradaya, or Nimbarka-sampradaya, Sri Nimbarka establishes the philosophy of dvaitadvaita-vada in the Parijata-saurabha-bhasya. And in the Visnusvami-sampradaya, or Rudra-sampradaya, which comes from Lord Siva, Visnusvami has written a commentary called Sarvajna-bhasya, which establishes suddhadvaita-vada.


A Vaisnava should study the commentaries on Vedanta-sutra written by the four sampradaya-acaryas, namely Sri Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Visnusvami and Nimbarka, for these commentaries are based upon the philosophy that the Lord is the master and that all living entities are His eternal servants. One interested in studying Vedanta philosophy properly must study these commentaries, especially if he is a Vaisnava. These commentaries are always adored by Vaisnavas."

Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya lila 2:95

I highlighted this one to illustrate that Sripad Sankaracarya's commentary on Vedanta Sutra is not attributed to Rudra Sampradaya.

Quotes on Brahma Sampradya



"Thus Brahma was initiated by the Krsna mantra, by Lord Krsna Himself, and thus he became a Vaisnava, or a devotee of the Lord, before he was able to construct the huge universe. It is stated in the Brahma-samhita that Lord Brahma was initiated into the eighteen-letter Krsna mantra, which is generally accepted by all the devotees of Lord Krsna. 

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2:9:6



"Brahma is the direct recipient of Vedic knowledge from the Personality of Godhead, and anyone discharging his entrusted duties in disciplic succession from Brahma is sure to gain fame in this life and salvation in the next. The disciplic succession from Brahma is called the Brahma-sampradaya, and it descends as follows: Brahma, Narada, Vyasa, Madhva Muni (Purnaprajna), Padmanabha, Nrhari, Madhava, Aksobhya, Jayatirtha, Jnanasindhu, Dayanidhi, Vidyanidhi, Rajendra, Jayadharma, Purusottama, Brahmanyatirtha, Vyasatirtha, Laksmipati, Madhavendra Puri, Isvara Puri, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Svarupa Damodara and Sri Rupa Gosvami and others, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Krsnadasa Gosvami, Narottama dasa Thakura, Visvanatha Cakravarti, Jagannatha dasa Babaji, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami."


This line of disciplic succession from Brahma is spiritual, whereas the genealogical succession from Manu is material, but both are on the progressive march towards the same goal of Krsna consciousness."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 3:13:8



"Out of the four sampradayas, the Sri Madhvacarya-sampradaya was accepted by Madhavendra Puri. Thus he took sannyasa according to parampara, the disciplic succession. Beginning from Madhvacarya down to the spiritual master of Madhavendra Puri, the acarya named Laksmipati, there was no realization of devotional service in conjugal love. Sri Madhavendra Puri introduced the conception of conjugal love for the first time in the Madhvacarya-sampradaya, and this conclusion of the Madhvacarya-sampradaya was revealed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu when He toured southern India and met the Tattvavadis, who supposedly belonged to the Madhvacarya-sampradaya."

Caitanya-caritamrta, Madyam lila 4:197




"Perhaps you know the picture of Madhvacarya, one of the great Acaryas in our line, who is holding two fingers up to indicate Krishna and jiva. The impersonalists hold up one finger because their idea is that everything is one. So if we make the Spiritual Master identical with Krishna, then we will also become impersonalists. If we say that our Spiritual Master is Krishna, then the conclusion is that if we become Spiritual Master some day, then we will also become Krishna. Please try to understand how dangerous this kind of reasoning is.


In my books I have tried to explain clearly this simultaneously one and different philosophy acinta beda beda tattva propounded by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. But sometimes it happens that this philosophy is given a self-interested interpretation. As soon as personal motivation comes in it is not possible for one to understand our Krishna Consciousness philosophy."

Srila Prabhupada Letter to Isana and Vibhavati, 09-21-70



Each of the bonafide sampradaya has its own distinct commentaries on Vedanta. Sri Madhvacarya's Purnaprajna-bhasya establishes suddha-dvaita-vada, or purified dualism. While the Mayavadi scholars do not accept the Puranas, Srila Madhvacarya and all other authorities accept them as the authoritative histories of the world. The Puranas are not chronologically recorded, but the incidents mentioned in the Puranas are actual histories of bygone ages. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the Maha-purana, the essence of all the Puranas.

The Brahma Sampradaya is divided into two schools: the Gaudiya Vaisnavas and the Tattva-vadi Madhavas (the Dvaitas). Of the Dvaita school, the Haridasa movement is prominent. The founding acarya of the Haridasa was Sri Narahari Tiirtha, a direct disciple of Madhavacarya, who preached a simplified version of Madhava's tattva. The Haridasa's worship Vittala and other manifestations of Lord Krishna.



"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the chain of disciplic succession from Madhva Acarya, but the Vaisnavas in His line do not accept the tattva-vadis, who also claim to belong to the Madhva-sampradaya. To distinguish themselves clearly from the tattva-vadi branch of Madhva's descendants, the Vaisnavas of Bengal prefer to call themselves Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Sri Madhva Acarya is also known as Sri Gaudapurnananda, and therefore the name Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya is quite suitable for the disciplic succession of the Gaudiya Vaisnavas. Our spiritual master, Om Visnupada Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, accepted initiation in the Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya."

Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 1:19

*For more on the distinction between these two schools cf. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura letter to our Madhva Brethren.  Therein he speaks of Vyasa-kuta and Dasa-Kuta.  We are Dasa-Kuta. (*


"This philosophical truth of simultaneous oneness and difference was propounded by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and it is known as acintya-bhedabheda-tattva. Brahma, Narada and all others are simultaneously one with the Lord and different from the Supreme Lord. We are all one with Him, just as the gold ornaments are one in quality with the stock gold, but the individual gold ornament is never equal in quantity with the stock gold. The stock gold is never exhausted even if there are innumerable ornaments emanating from the stock because the stock is purnam, complete; even if purnam is deducted from the purnam, still the supreme purnam remains the same purnam. This fact is inconceivable to our present imperfect senses. Lord Caitanya therefore defined His theory of philosophy as acintya (inconceivable), and as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita as well as in the Bhagavatam, Lord Caitanya's theory of acintya-bhedabheda-tattva is the perfect philosophy of the Absolute Truth."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2:6:13-16

Quotes on Sri Sampradaya

"The Ramanuja-sampradaya, they are called Sri-sampradaya. They worship Laksmi-Narayana. Everyone worships the Lord and His potency, spiritual potency. Just like we worship Radha-Krsna, similarly, the Ramanuja-sampradaya, they worship Laksmi-Narayana or Sita-Rama. 

Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, 02-25-76, Mayapur



"Thus Krsna should not be thought of as being alone but should be considered as eternally existing with all His manifestations, as described by Ramanujacarya. In the Visistadvaita philosophy, God's energies, expansions and incarnations are considered to be oneness in diversity. In other words, God is not separate from all of these; everything together is God.

Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila Introduction


"The Lord is the reservoir of all cosmic manifestation, animate and inanimate. The advocates of Visistadvaita-vada philosophy explain the Vedanta-sutra by saying that although the living entity has two kinds of bodies--subtle (consisting of mind, intelligence and false ego) and gross (consisting of the five basic elements)--and although he thus lives in three bodily dimensions (gross, subtle and spiritual), he is nevertheless a spiritual soul.

Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 2:37



"...We Gaudiya Vaisnava follow Srila Ramanuja's philosophy almost in the same manner. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gives the identification of jiva soul as the eternal servant of Krishna and is situated as marginal potency of the Lord based on the philosophy of acintya-bheda bheda-tattva. This is almost similar to Visistadvaita vada. Vaisnava philosophy is now being pushed on all over the world under the Hare Krishna movement, and we feel Sripada Ramanuja a great support for the Vaisnava philosophical understanding. It is like a combination of nyaya sruti and smrti prasthans. The Bhagavad-gita supports the Vedanta Sutra brahma-sutra-padais caiva. hetumadbhir viniscitaih. (BG. 13:5.)


To the jiva brahma identification is one part of acintya-bheda bheda-tattva. As spirit soul or identical brahma, or jiva brahma is identical with the Supreme Brahma or the param brahma. In this sense jiva soul is avheda or non-different from the param brahma. But on account of the param brahma being the supreme, the biggest, the identical brahma or jiva brahma being very minute, it is different from the param brahma. The summary is that the simultaneous one and different jiva brahma is simultaneously one with and different from the param brahma. Because it is appreciated simultaneously which is very difficult to comprehend by the common man, this philosophy is called acintya-bheda bheda tattva, inconceivable. This is supported by the Katho Upanisad 2.5.13 nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam. eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. This is almost similar to the visista-dvaita vada.


So far I am personally concerned, following the footsteps of my guru maharaj Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, we accept the principles of all the acaryas, although officially we belong to the Madhva sampradaya. Our sampradaya is known as the Madhva Gaudiya sampradaya. We find great shelter at the lotus feet of Sri Ramanujacarya because his lotus feet are the strongest fort to combat the mayavadi philosophy.

Srila Prabhupada Letter to VSR Chakravarti, 11-22-74, Boston

Quotes on Rudra Sampradaya

"Lord Siva is described here as caracara-guru, the spiritual master of all animate and inanimate objects. He is sometimes known as Bhutanatha, which means "the worshipable deity of the dull-headed." Bhuta is also sometimes taken to indicate the ghosts. Lord Siva takes charge of reforming persons who are ghosts and demons, not to speak of others, who are godly; therefore he is the spiritual master of everyone, both the dull and demoniac and the highly learned Vaisnavas. It is also stated,vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh: Sambhu, Lord Siva, is the greatest of all Vaisnavas. On one hand he is the worshipable object of the dull demons, and on the other he is the best of all Vaisnavas, or devotees, and he has a sampradaya called the Rudra-sampradaya."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 4:2:2



"It is especially significant that Lord Siva is a pure devotee of Lord Vasudeva. Vaisnavanam yatha sambhuh: "Amongst all Vaisnavas, Lord Siva is the topmost." Consequently Lord Siva has a sampradaya, a Vaisnava disciplic succession, called the Rudra-sampradaya. At the present moment those who belong to the Visnusvami-sampradaya of Vaisnavas come from Rudra, Lord Siva. To become a devotee of Lord Krsna, Vasudeva, is very, very difficult. The word especially used in this connection is duraradhyam. The worship of the demigods is not very difficult, but becoming a devotee of Lord Vasudeva, Krsna, is not so easy. However, if one adheres to the principles and follows in the footsteps of the higher authorities, as advised by Lord Siva, one can easily become a devotee of Lord Vasudeva."

*A Gaudiya Vaisnava Scholar, Nathan Parker has written about the Visnusvamis' in Rudra Sampradaya based on the biography of Visnusvami by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur.  An excerpt from his posting follows:*

"Both Jiva Goswami in his Bhagavata Sandarbha and Krsnadasa Kaviraja in his Caitanya-caritamrta look to Sripad Visnuswami for inspiration to establish the essential difference between God and the individual souls and quote from his Sarvajnasukta, his commentary on Vedanta.


Visnuswami is the founder-acarya of the Rudra sampradaya, which is the oldest of the four recognized sampradayas. It is even said that Visnuswami was born in the Dravida country after the completion of the sacrifice of Janamejaya, around the beginnining of Kali-yuga.


Although most scholars are only able to find scanty and conflicting information on Sripada Visnuswami, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gives us a authoritive biographical account of Visnuswami which we accept to be authoritive.


There were three Acaryas bearing the name of Visnuswami in the Rudra sampradaya. The first is called Adi Visnuswami, who is said to have been born about the third century B.C. in the Pandyan country. Visnuswami's father Devesvara was the royal priest and minister. Devatanu, as he was known before he took the sannyasa name of Visnuswami, was trained by his father in a vigorous theistic eduacation, to fight Buddhism. The Pandyan king exerted all his influence to crush Buddhism in particular and other non-vaisnava sects in general. King Pandyovijaya and his minister, Devesvara, went to Puri and recovered the Deities of Jagannatha, Balarama and Subhadra, which had been turned into the Buddhist Dharma by Buddha and Samgha by the Buddhists. King Padyovijaya and Devesvara removed the deities from the main temple to sundaracala about two miles away by cart. This is said to be the origin of the Rathayatra of Jagannatha. Now the ceremony of conveying the Deities from the temple to the car is named Pahandi or Panduvijaya. The word Panda is applied to the priests of Jagannatha and is said to be derived from the "Pandya". The Deities were again brought back to the temple after Buddhism had been supressed to some extent.


Visnuswami was the first to adopt tridandi sannyasa which he brought into practice among his seven hundred sannyasa disciples. It was he who introduce the Astottara satanami sannyasa (108 designations of sannyasis) including the dasanami which was adopted by Sankara in his sect. It was not Sankara who originated it, as some scholars think. Vyasesvara was the last in the line of Sannyasis, after whom the line became almost extinct, until it was revived by Raja Gopal who also assumed the name of Visnuswami in the beginning of the 9th century. His main follower was Bilvamangala.


Raja Gopala Visnuswami revived the old Visnuswami line and began the active propaganda with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. He installed the Varadaraja temple in Kanci, Ranchorlal in Dwaraka, and many other Deities in different places of pilgrimage. He converted many of Sankara's prominant disciples after Sankara's death.


After the disappearance of the second Visnuswami a great feud took place between his community and that of Saivasivaswami, who regards Rudra as an independant God while the former holds Rudra as Guru and the intimate associate of Visnu. The Saiva opposed it vigorously and peoplefailing to appreciate the subtle point of theism in the Suddhadvaita system of Visnuswami became inclined to Saivite monism, which soon became embraced by the population in general. The Saivaite community, taking advantage of the situation, tried to misappropriate Visnuswami's Sarvajnasukta and modified it to a great extent to suit their system.


The third revival came under Andhra Visnuswami in the 13th century, whose successors included Laksmana Bhatta, the father of Vallabhacarya. This Visnuswami is said to have been the son of a minister of a Dravidian prince under the Emperor of Delhi.


Visnuswami's philosophy is visuddhadvaita. Brahman as Visnu, Narasimha, non-dual and having no second. Brahman has all contradictory qualities. The soul is part of Brahman like spiritual sparks, real, eternal, atomic and dependent. Creation has no motive , it is like a cosmic game and it directly emanates from Brahman. The cause of bondage is one's attachement to karma. The process of release is devotion based on Bhagavata. The goal of life is to attain uninterupted contact with Krsna, Vaikuntha salokya where there is no return."




Quotes on the Kumara Sampradaya


"Brahmaji wanted to create the whole cosmic situation as it was in the previous millennium, and because, in the last devastation, knowledge of the Absolute Truth was altogether erased from the universe, he desired that the same knowledge again be renovated; otherwise there would be no meaning in the creation. Because transcendental knowledge is a prime necessity, the ever-conditioned souls are given a chance for liberation in every millennium of creation.


This mission of Brahmaji was fulfilled by the grace of the Lord when the four sanas, namely Sanaka, Sanat-kumara, Sanandana and Sanatana, appeared as his four sons. These four sanas were incarnations of the knowledge of the Supreme Lord, and as such they explained transcendental knowledge so explicitly that all the sages could at once assimilate this knowledge without the least difficulty. By following in the footsteps of the four Kumaras, one can at once see the Supreme Personality of Godhead within oneself."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 2:7:5



"Although Brahma created the principles of nescience as a matter of necessity for those living entities who were destined to ignorance by the will of he Lord, he was not satisfied in performing such a thankless task. He therefore created four principles of knowledge: sankhya, or empirical philosophy for the analytical study of material conditions; yoga or mysticism for liberation of the pure soul from material bondage; vairagya, the acceptance of complete detachment from material enjoyment in life to elevate oneself to the highest spiritual understanding; and tapas, or the various kinds of voluntary austerities performed for spiritual perfection.


Brahma created the four great sages Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatana and Sanat to entrust them with these four principles of spiritual advancement, and they inaugurated their own spiritual party, or sampradaya, known as the Kumara-sampradaya, or later on as the Nimbaraka-sampradaya, for the advancement of bhakti. All of these great sages became great devotees, for without devotional service to the Personality of Godhead one cannot achieve success in any activity of spiritual value."

Srimad-Bhagavatam 3:12:4




"As in the modern day there are many champions in sports, so in bygone days there were many learned scholars in India who were champions in learning. One such person was Kesava Kasmiri, who came from the state of Kashmir. He traveled all over India and at last came to Navadvipa to challenge the learned scholars there. Unfortunately he could not conquer the learned scholars in Navadvipa, for he was defeated by the boy scholar Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Later he understood that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is none other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus he surrendered unto Him and later became a pure Vaisnava in the sampradaya of Nimbarka. He wrote Kaustubha-prabha, a commentary on the Vedanta commentary of the Nimbarka-sampradaya, which is known as the Parijata-bhasya.


The Bhakti-ratnakara mentions Kesava Kasmiri and lists his predecessors in the disciplic succession of the Nimbarka-sampradaya: (1) Srinivasa Acarya, (2) Visva Acarya, (3) Purusottama, (4) Vilasa, (5) Svarupa, (6) Madhava, (7) Balabhadra, (8) Padma, (9) Syama, (10) Gopala, (11) Krpa, (1 2) Deva Acarya, (13) Sundara Bhatta, (14) Padmanabha, (15) Upendra, (16) Ramacandra, (17) Vamana, (18) Krsna, (19) Padmakara, (20) Sravana, (21) Bhuri, (22) Madhava, (23) Syama, (24) Gopala, (25) Balabhadra, (26) Gopinatha, (27) Kesava, (28) Gokula and (29) Kesava Kasmiri. It is stated in the Bhakti-ratnakara that Kesava Kasmiri was a favorite devotee of mother Sarasvati, the goddess of learning. By her grace he was an extremely influential scholar, and he was the greatest champion among all the scholars in the four corners of the country. Therefore he got the title dig-vijayi, which means "one who has conquered everyone in all directions." He belonged to a very respectable brahmana family of Kashmir. Later, by the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he gave up the profession of winning championships and became a great devotee. He joined the Nimbarka-sampradaya, one of the Vaisnava communities of the Vedic culture."


Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 16:25

Your servant,
-Jagannatha dasa


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