Hinduism comprises numerous
sects or denominations. The main divisions in current Hinduism are
Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, and Smartha. These four
denominations share rituals, beliefs, and traditions, but each denomination
has a different philosophy on how to achieve life's ultimate goal (moksa,
worship Shakti, the divine Mother, in her many forms like (Kali, Durga,
Laxmi, Saraswati etc.).
Vaishnavism is the monotheistic tradition worshiping Vishnu (or his forms of
Krishna and Rama) as the supreme or svayam bhagavan. This is the largest
denomination, with approx. 580 million followers.
Rudra Sampradaya : In Hinduism, the Rudra Sampradaya is one of four Vaishnava sampradayas, a tradition of disciplic succession in the religion. Vaishnavism is distinguished from other schools of Hinduism by its primary worship of deities Vishnu and/or Krishna and their avatars as the Supreme forms of God. The ascetic Vishnuswami formed the Rudra-Sampradaya, though the sampradaya is believed to have traced its origins to the Hindu deity Shiva, also known as Rudra, who passed on the knowledge imparted to him by Vishnu (or Krishna), on mankind. According to Vaishnavism, Shiva, who has the Shaivism school dedicated to his worship as the Supreme God, is the first and foremost Vaishnava, or follower of Vishnu. According to the tradition, Vishnuswami was fifthteenth in the line of passing of the knowledge from teacher to student. The date of formation of the sampradaya is disputed. While James Hastings dates Vishnuswami to the early 15th century, and Carl Olson dates him to the 13th century, followers of the sampradaya says that Vishnuswami was born 4500 years earlier. Not much about the historical Vishnuswami is known and all his works are thought to have been lost in time. The earliest converts were from Gujarat in western India. The beliefs of the sampradaya was further propagated by Vallabha Acharya (1479 – 1531).
Rudra sampradaya has two main sects: Vishnuswamis,
that is, followers of Vishnuswami and the Vallabhas or Pushtimarg sect,
founded by Vallabha
The Brahma Sampradaya: associated with Vishnu, who is the para-brahma ( Universal Creator ), not to be confused with the other Brahma, who is the four-faced god in hindu religion(Brahma-sampradāya) refers to the disciplic succession (sampradaya) of gurus starting with Brahma in Hinduism. The term is most often used to refer to the beliefs and teachings of Madhvacharya and his Dvaita philosophy. It may also refer to the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his Gaudiya theology. A number of worldwide religious movements belong to this line, including ISKCON, a derivative of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Followers of this tradition believe that Vedic knowledge descends from Brahma. In the Vedic conception, these sampradayas began at the creation of the universe and endure to the present moment in the person of the student's own guru. Due to the consistency of the transmission of knowledge, all the previous gurus are present in the teachings of the present spiritual master. The Vedic process assures that the transmission remains pure by assuring the qualifications of the transmitter.
Sampradaya associated with Laksmi: Sri Sampradaya or Sri Vaishnavism is
a Vaishnava sect within Hinduism. Its origin may date back to around 10th
century and its formation is associated with a collection of the devotional
hymns and songs by Alvars being organized by Nathamuni, who is considered to
be the first guru of the sect. Nathamuni appeared as the pioneer who wrote
Sanskrit works systematizing the Sri Vaishnava theology, largely in debate
with Gauttama philosophy of Buddhism. He was followed by Yamunacharya a
celebrated grand-teacher of Ramanujacharya. In this tradition Vishnuis
believed to be the source of all avatars. Vishnu is the name of God in the
whole Vaishnavism and he is also known as Narayana, Vasudeva and Krishna and
behind each of those names is a devine figure with attributed supremacy in
Vaishnavism and each associated tradition believed to be distinct
historically. Name of the tradition is originating from Sri being the name
of Lakshmi. Two different tilaka or pundra makings are worn by the
representative of two different sect within the Sri Sampradaya following
Ramanujacharya: Ten-galais and Vada-galais, both ascribing the markings to
the footprint of Vishnu on the forehead. Some leaders or acharyas are strict
Iyengar brahmanas and will only take renunciation of sannyasa at a very late
age, while others live in a monastery, Matha .
Sampradaya is the tradition associated with Four Kumaras: The
Nimbarka Sampradaya (Nimbārka Sampradāya,), also known as the Hamsa
Sampradāya, Kumāra Sampradāya, Catuh Sana Sampradāya and Sanakādi Sampradāya,
is one of the four authorised Vaisnava Sampradāyas (philosophical schools
characterised by leaders in disciplic succession) as according to the Padma
Purana, one of the eighteen main Puranas
The Four Kumaras namely: Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana, and Sanat Kumāra are traditionally the four mind-born sons of Lord Brahmā. Famous throughout the Puranic literature, they are found also in the Upanishads. They are renowned yogis, who requested their father for the boon of remaining perpetually five years old. They were created by their father in order to advance creation, however, they chose to undertake lifelong vows of celibacy (brahmacarya). After obtaining initiation into the Śrī Gopāla Mantra, these four brothers then left meditations into an impersonal God, and realised the truth lies beyond the impersonal, in the Highest Person, the Supreme Lord Śrī Krishna. Having obtained his grace and being initiated into Vaishnava tradition, they began to spread the teachings of the path of renounciation. During initiation into this Vaishnava tradition, they received the Śrī Śāligrāma Śilā known as Śrī Śarveśvara Bhagavān, which has been passed on from each Guru to disciple since their time.
Smarthas have free rein to choose whichever deity they wish to worship. They usually worship five deities (pancopasana) or panchadevata as personal formful manifestations of the impersonal Absolute, Brahman. Smartas accept and worship the six manifestations of God, (Ganesha, Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, Surya and Skanda) and the choice of the nature of God is up to the individual worshipper since different manifestations of God are held to be equivalent. It is a liberal and eclectic sect
It is the Smarta view that dominates the view of Hinduism in the West as Smarta belief includes Advaita belief and the first Hindu saint, who significantly brought Hinduism to the west was Swami Vivekananda, an adherent of Advaita. Not till much later, gurus, such as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and others, brought a Vaishnavite perspective to the West. By contrast with Smarta/Advaita belief, Vaishnavism and Shaivism follows a singular concept of God, or panentheistic monotheism or panentheistic monism.
Influential 19th to 20th century Hindu revivalist organizations include Arya Samaj, Tilak Mission Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Brahmo Samaj, Parisada Hindu Dharma, Prarthana Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana, Swadhyay Movement, Swaminarayan Sampraday, Sathya Sai Organisation