One can understand the tradition of Sampradaya essentially in two different but similar ways. Firstly, it indicates a custom of teaching, with a Guru belonging to a time-honored lineage, imparting timeless truths verbally to his disciples by oral training as well as initiation. Secondly, it also indicates a highly established historical ancestry, a dynamic stream of theology or tradition within the ambit of Hinduism.
The term is derived from the rather complex term “samprada”, meaning grant, gift, conferring, bequeathing, bestowing or of the handing down of custom and tradition. Thus Sampradaya is a philosophy handed down through the ages by a process of verbal transmission.
Adinath Sampradaya used to be a sub-sect of what is called the tradition of the greater Nath. One who is initiated into this yogic tradition accepts the practice of Sanyasa deeksha or the renunciation of domestic life, and living thereafter the life of an unclad sadhu. Those who followed the tradition held that sadhus ought to remain alone till the time they had achieved their goals and to this end they became the inhabitants of huts, caves, empty or ruined houses, far away from any place of inhabitation.
The last of the long line of sadhus who held the genuine status of a guru under the system of Adinath Sampradaya was Sri Gurudev Mahendranath, whose life came to an end in 1991. Although at first, he offered diksha to a person who belonged to a deviant of the ancient Nath Tradition, he deliberately brought to an end the age old Adinath Sampradaya by declining to confer sannyasa diksha, the one initiation that is essential for succession. Thus the sacred time honored tradition came to an abrupt end.