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Sri Vaishnava is a universal term among Hindus for worshippers of Vishnu. They are not limited to any part of India. Over its long history, Sri Vaishnavism has influenced nearly every aspect of Indian religious life.


Sri Vaishnava culture dates back to the 10th century when this system was pioneered by the first Sri Vaishnava Acharya in the lineage, Sri Nathamuni. Further this system was expounded by the lineage of acharyas in the expounding of SriVaishnavism and got popularity in a community of the followers of the system, the present day Iyengars. To this day, they mainly hold the system of Srivaishnavism. Sri Vaishnavism was mainly expounded by the great philosopher, Sri Ramanuja. To this day, it is called SriSampradaya and Iyengars mainly follow it. Sri Sampradaya or Sri Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava sect within Hinduism. While its origin is lost in antiquity, its codification is generally traced back to around the 10th century when a collection of the devotional hymns and songs by Alvars was organised by Sri Nathamuni, who is considered to be one of the pioneers of the sect.[citation needed]

Introduction to the SriVaishnava philosophy[edit]

The philosophy of Sri Vaishnavism is known in Sanskrit as Visistadvaita. The term literally means ``non-duality of Reality as characterised by attributes. As a classical expression of Vedanta (the philosophical basis for much of Hinduism), the goal of Visistadvaita philosophy is to understand and experience Brahman, the One Blissful Reality who is the all-pervasive ground and sustenance of the universe – the string upon whom all pearls are threaded. The ``pearls, individual beings and matter, are inseparable attributes of the Supreme Person, modes of Its existence.

To the devout Sri Vaishnava, the religious concept of Brahman is best expressed by the term ``God. Brahman is Infinite, not just in physical terms, but in metaphysical and qualitative terms. Brahman is the absolutely real abode of all consciousness. He is infinitely auspicious, infinitely blissful, supremely gracious, infinitely merciful, infinitely beautiful – in fact, infinitely infinite. The relationship between God and the universe is one of love, as all this is but a conscious emanation from Him. We are to Him as a child is to a parent, as a friend is to a friend, and as a beloved is to a lover.

Brahman also stands in relation to the universe and the individual souls as the Self of each, providing the basis for their reality. As such, Brahman has matter and individual souls as His body, and is therefore the Supreme Being in whom all reality is comprehended. All that we see is but a spilling from the plenitude of His glorious, all-pervasive essence. This is why the favourite devotional name for God among Sri Vaishnavas is Narayana – He in whom all beings rest.

Establishing dates[edit]

Sri Vaishnavism was expounded in the later Bhakti period. Before that, the twelve Alvars were mainly the pioneers of this system.

Srivaishnava Brahmin (Iyengar) subsects[edit]

Caste marks of the Iyengar Brahmins.
In the image:Vadakalai tilak (left) and Thenkalai tilak (right).

Among the Iyengar Brahmins following Sri Vaishnavism, there are two sects, namely Vadakalai and Tenkalai.[1] It is widely believed that the two sects are distinctly different in origin.[2][3][4] But some believe the two subsects to have originated in the 14th century AD following a split in the Iyengar community.[5]

  • The Thenkalai Iyengar community (Tamil: தென்னாசாரிய சம்பிரதாயம்)[23] follows the Tamil Prabandhams,[7] and asserts primacy to rituals in Tamil language.[24] They are followers of Ramanuja, Pillailokacharya and Manavala Mamuni.[25][26] According to genetic studies, the Thenkalai gene frequencies are distinctly different from that of the Vadakalais.[7][27][28][29][30][31][32] Traditionally, Thenkalai accept Prapatti as the only means to attain salvation.[33] They consider Prapatti as an unconditional surrender.[20] The various Thenkalai monasteries are – Vanamamalai mutt and Sriperumdur mutt in Kanchipuram district and Tirukkoilur mutt in Viluppuram district.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pg.25, Rural Society in Southeast India – by Kathleen Gough; Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Pg.71 Man in India, Volume 58, by Sarat Chandra Roy (Rai Bahadur) – Pub’ A.K.Bose 1978. The source page mentions about the significant difference between the gene frequencies of vadakalai and thenkalai. Google Books. 1 June 2003. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Pg 349
  5. ^ a b T. V. Kuppuswamy (Prof.), Shripad Dattatraya Kulkarni (1966). History of Tamilakam. Darkness at horizon. Shri Bhagavan Vedavyasa Itihasa Samshodhana Mandira. p. 166. 
  6. ^ Pg 205 Students' Britannica India. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Tamil Nadu, Religious Condition under Vijaya Nagar Empire". Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Pg.150 Dimensions of national integration: the experiences and lessons of Indian history – by Nisith Ranjan Ray, Punthi-Pustak & Institute of Historical Studies, 1993. Google Books. 28 November 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  9. ^ Pg.65 The Indian historical review, Volume 17 – Indian Council of Historical Research, Vikas Pub. House.,1990. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "Astadasabhedanirnaya". Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  11. ^ Pg.129 Sociology of religion, Volume 1 – by Joachim Wach, University of Chicago press, 1944. Google Books. 11 June 1991. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  12. ^ Pg.107 Kabir, the apostle of Hindu-Muslim unity: interaction of Hindu-Muslim ideas in the formation of the bhakti movement with special reference to Kabīr, the bhakta – Muhammad Hedayetullah, Motilal Banarsidass publication, 1977. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Oroon K. Ghosh (1976). The changing Indian civilization: a perspective on India. Minerva Associates (Publications). pp. 283, 160.
    Pg.283 refers to Vadagalai, as sanskritic and patriarchal people who had migrated from North India, while Pg.160 speaks about the brahmins who are aryans, following the sanskritic and patriarchal systems. A visible snippet view of the source is available as citation no. in the same article.
  14. ^ Pg.72, Aryans in South India – by P. P. Nārāyanan Nambūdiri, Inter-India Publications. The page classifies Vadagalai & Madhwas as aryans of south india, under the "Vaisnava" section. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Difference Between Iyer and Iyengar". Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "Prevalence of phenotypes & genes (pdf file) – Last page 10th line to the left has vadagalai specific reference while the whole article speaks about the gene frequencies of the people of Faislabad-Punjab-Pakistan" (PDF). Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  17. ^ Sri Varadarajaswami Temple, Kanchi: A Study of Its History, Art and Architecture – by K.V.Raman. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  18. ^ Pg.199 Philosophy of Nārāyaṇīyam, Dharma, Nārāyaṇabhaṭṭapāda, Study of Nārāyaṇīya of Nārāyaṇabhaṭṭapāda, verse work on Krishna, Hindu deity; Nag Publishers. Google Books. 1 February 1996. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  19. ^ " exclusive vadakalai website) – ''Srimad Rahasya Traya Sara'' by Shri Vedanta Desika – under the subtopic ''Upaya Vibhaga Adhikara''". Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  20. ^ a b Pg.35 Harmony of religions: Vedānta Siddhānta samarasam of Tāyumānavar – By Thomas Manninezhath, ISBN 81-208-1001-5. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  21. ^ History of Sri Vaishnavism in the Tamil country post Ramanuja – by N.Jagadeesan, Koodal Publishers. Google Books. 6 October 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  22. ^ "Invitation document from Poudarikapuram Ashramam – It is a Vadakalai Ashram – the invitation bears the Vadakalai Caste Mark with salutes to Ramanuja and Desika" (PDF). Google. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  23. ^ "Thenkalai" (PDF). Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  24. ^ Human heredity, Volume 26; S. Karger (Firm), Karger., 1976. Google Books. 1 January 1948. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  25. ^ Pg.86 Encyclopaedia of Indian philosophy, Volume 1, by Vraj Kumar Pandey, Anmol Publications. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  26. ^ Pg.108 Homage to a Historian:a festschrift – by N. Subrahmanian, Tamilanpan, S.Jeyapragasam, Dr. N. Subrahmanian 60th Birthday Celebration Committee, in association with Koodal Publishers. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  27. ^ Pg.71 Man in India, Volume 58, by Sarat Chandra Roy (Rai Bahadur) – Pub’ A.K.Bose 1978. Google Books. 1 June 2003. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  28. ^ The World of the Weaver in Northern Coromandel, c.1750-c.1850 – by P.Swarnalatha, Pub’ by Orient Longman, ISBN 81-250-2868-4. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  29. ^ Rethinking a millennium: perspectives on Indian history from the eighth to ...By Rajat Datta, Harbans Mukhia, Published by Aakar Books; ISBN 978-81-89833-36-7. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  30. ^ Pg.443 – ''The Indian economic and social history review, Volume 22'', Delhi School of Economics. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  31. ^ Pg.61- ''Textiles and weavers in medieval South India'', by Vijaya Ramaswamy, Oxford University Press. Google Books. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  32. ^ Pg.58 The Orissal historical research journal, Volumes 42–43, by Kedarnath Mahapatra, Orissa (India). Superintendent, Research and Museum, Orissa State Museum. Google Books. 1 January 1991. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  33. ^ Coward, Harold G.. The perfectibility of human nature in eastern and western thought. Google Books. p. 141. ISBN 9780791473368. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 


  • Introduction to Sri Vaishnava Theology
  • Introduction to Sri Vaishnava Philosophy
  • SriVaishnavism: A Concise study

External links[edit]