Vedic knowledge is carefully passed down from guru to disciple in spiritual lineages called sampradayas. India’s sampradayas have for centuries protected its traditions of deep spirituality. Unfortunately, when spiritual knowledge is not gained from an authorized sampradaya it lacks real spiritual benefit.
The Hare Krishna movement strictly adheres to the sampradaya system. Srila Prabhupada, the movement’s founder, was a spiritual master of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya, which begins with Lord Krishna and includes His most recent descent, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The lineage is known as the Brahma sampradaya because at the beginning of creation Lord Krishna Himself enlightened Brahma, the original inquisitive soul, the first created being.
The line later becomes known as the Brahma-Madhva sampradaya because of the prominent teacher Madhva (A.D. 1238-1319).
Still later, the line becomes known as the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya after the line is joined by Sri Chaitanya (1486-1534), who appeared in the region of Gauda (Bengal) and imbued the tradition with new vigor.
The members of the sampradaya up to Srila Prabhupada, the founder and spiritual preceptor of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, are listed below.