Sampradaya may be translated loosely as Tradition.
Practices that were followed are continued by successive generations at the Family level.
Thus in Hinduism we have some practices that are common to all the Hindus and some that are group specific.
Some Common practices are,
Waking up early in the morning,
Taking bath and drawing Rangoli in front of the House,
Performing Sandhyavandan, in the case of Brahmins,
Performing pooja and offering Naivedya to God,
Cook only after taking bath,
Perform basic samskaras like Namakarana, Karna Bhooshana, Upanayana, Marriage, Garbhadhana, Seemantha,Anthima Samaskaras.
But the way of performing them and some practices distinguish one group from another, though in essence all are Hindus.
The two sects in Hinduism, Shaiva and Vaishnava, the former worships Shiva, the later Vishnu,the Samapradayas differ.
What is Vaishava Sampradaya?
Basically Vaishnavas worship Vishnu to the exclusion of all other Deities, though Puranas insist that this is not correct.
Even among the Vaishnavas, there are different Sampradayas.
They are four in number traditionally.
- Sri Sampradaya which is the Sampradaya of Lakshmi
- Philosophy: Vishishtadvaita (“Qualified Monism/Non dualism”), espoused by Chidachida Visishtam Ramanujacharya
- See Sri Vaishnavism, Vaikhanasa, Ramanandi Sect, Swaminarayan.
- Brahma sampradaya
- Philosophies: Dvaita (“dualism”), espoused by Madhvacharya, and Achintya Bheda Abheda (literally “inconceivable difference and non-difference”).
- Rudra sampradaya
- Philosophy: Shuddhadvaita (“pure nondualism”), espoused by Vishnuswami and Vallabhacharya.
- Philosophy: Dvaitadvaita (“duality in unity”), espoused by Nimbarka.
In South India.
- The Iyengars, who follow the Sri Vaishnava Vishistadvaita philosophy of Asuri Ramanujacharya. The Iyengars are further divided into the Vadakalai-i.e. the northern school, and Thenkalai or southern school. Both these sects adhere to the Pañcaratra agama, in temples.
These two sects evolved about 200 years after Ramanuja and differ on 18 points of doctrine. The founder of the Vadagalai sect is Swami Vedanta Desika, and the Tengalai sect is Manavala Mamuni. But both schools have a common Guru Parampara prior to the division. The Sri Vaishnavas use both the Sanskrit veda as well as the Tamil divyaprabandham in temple worship.
- The Madhvas, who follow the Sadvaishnava Dvaita philosophy of Madhvacharya.
- The Vaikhanasas, who are primarily an ancient community of temple priests, who use the Vaikhanasa Agama in temple worship. They use Sanskrit exclusively in temple worship.
But as I indicated in my post Vadakalai, Thenkalai has no sanction of the Vedas, there is no sanction for these divisions in the Vedas.
The Reality is One but people practice different methods to realize it , period.
Squabbles are not allowed, if one is a Hindu.