The correct process of receiving knowledge in any field is approaching a bona fide institute. Similarly, transcendental knowledge should be received through a bona fide disciplic succession

In Bhagavad-gita (4.2) Lord Krishna says:

evam parampara-praptam
imam rajarsayo viduh
sa kaleneha mahata
yogo nastah parantapa

Translation: “This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost”

There are four sampradayas or authorities on the science of bhakti.
Sri Krishna Chaitanya is like a desire tree, and in the form of Narayana, He is the original guru of the four sampradayas. Sri is the beloved of Narayana. She is His disciple as well. Her wonderful activities are elaborately described in all the Sastras. Sri is another name of Lakshmi. Her disciplic succession called the Sri sampradya has unlimited branches and sub-branches. After Ramanuja became the acarya in this sampradaya it took the name Ramanuja-sampradaya. Ramanujacharya earlier known as Laksmanacharya is the author of the Ramanuja-bhashya.

Lord Brahma is the leading disciple of the supreme Lord Narayana.

His sampradaya is known as Brahma sampradaya with disciples all over the world. In this sampradaya, Sri Madhva significantly contributed by writing a commentary on the Brahma-sutras. After this the sampradaya became known as the Madhva-sampradaya.

The supreme Lord Narayana also has Lord Rudra as His disciple. Vishnusvami was a leading disciple in the Rudra Sampradaya. Vishnusvami was very influential and a learned scholar of all the scriptures. After him this disciplic succession came to be known as the Vishnusvami-sampradaya.

From the supreme Lord Narayana appeared the Hansa-avatara. In this disciplic succession came the four Kumaras headed by Sanaka Kumara. In this line Nimbaditya was a leading disciple. The name Nimbaditya sampradaya was thus established.This is known also as Nimbarka-sampradaya. The influence of Nimbarka sampradaya spread all over the world.

The Sri, Brahma, Rudra, and Kumara sampradayas spread their influence by dividing into other sampradayas. In the Ramanuja-sampradaya, Sri Ramanandacharya was highly respected. He had many disciples and grand-disciples. Similarly Sri Vallabhacharya appeared in the Vishnusvami-sampradaya. He wrote a commentary named Anubhasya, which is highly respected. His disciplic succession is known as the Vallabha-sampradaya.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada comes in the brahma-madhva-gaudiya disciplic succession.

Besides following the holy scriptures and your conscience, you have to associate with saintly persons and follow the instructions of the bona fide spiritual master.
The bona fide spiritual master comes from a line of bona fide masters that start with God (Lord Sri Krishna) Himself. As a result, he knows God’s will and can impart it to the sincere seeker.

Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Sampradaya

  1. Krishna
  2. Brahma
  3. Narada
  4. Vyasa
  5. Madhva
  6. Padmanabha
  7. Narahari
  8. Madhava
  9. Akshobhya
  10. Jaya Tirtha
  11. Jnanasindhu
  12. Dayanidhi
  13. Vidyanidhi
  14. Rajendra
  15. Jayadharma
  16. Purusottama
  17. Brahmanya Tirtha
  18. Vyasa Tirtha
  19. Lakshmipati
  20. Madhavendra Puri
  21. Ishvara Puri
  22. Lord Chaitanya
  23. Rupa Goswami
  24. Raghunatha Goswami
  25. Krishnadasa Kaviraja
  26. Narottama Das Thakur
  27. Vishvanatha Cakravati
  28. Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji Maharaja
  29. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
  30. Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji Maharaja
  31. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
  32. A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada