Sri Vaishnavism

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Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya
Sri Ranganathaswamy at his chosen place - Srirangam
principal deity of SriVaishnavism - Ranganatha(Vishnu)
Regions with significant populations
India , Nepal
Vedas, Upanishads, Naalayira Divya Prabhandham , Bhagavat Gita, Brahma Sutra Vishishtadvaita Bhashya/Sri Bhashya , Pancharatra Agamas , Vaishnava Puranas etc
Sanskrit, Tamil
Website , ( , , , , , , , , ,

Sri Vaishnav Sampradaya or Sri Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava sect within Hinduism, dedicated to the worship of the Vedic Supreme Being Vishnu. Vishishtadvaita Vedanta is its philosophy. Its origin and codification is generally traced back to the goddess Lakshmi (Sri), the consort Vishnu and is the oldest among the four original Vaishnava sampradayas mentioned in the Padma Puran. Around the 10th century a collection of the devotional hymns and songs by Alvars was organized by Nathamuni, who is considered to be one of the pioneers of the sect.[1] Nathamuni wrote Sanskrit works systematizing the Sri Vaishnava theology, largely in debate with the philosophy of Buddhism. He was followed by Yamunacharya, a celebrated grand-teacher of Ramanujacharya.[2] Yamunacharya, like Ramanujacharya, focused both on philosophical debates like dvaita versus advaita and bhakti prayers and the works attributed to him are in Sanskrit although he codified the heritage of the Alvars.

In this tradition, Vishnu is believed to be the Supreme Being and the source of all avatars.[3][4] The Iyengar Brahmins are followers of Ramanuja sampradaya, and two sects, namely Vadakalai and Thenkalai exist among them.[5] They believe in the philosophy of Visishtadvaita espoused by Ramanujacharya.[6]


Sri (Lakshmi) is considered to be the original preceptor of this sampradaya and Ramanuja was the most famous saint of this spiritual lineage. Vishnu, according to Padma Purana, had empowered four divine beings to form sects to propagate Vaishnavism and Sri was the foremost among them. Sri is considered inseparable from Vishnu, who carries the mark of sri-vatsa, ineradicably representing Sri, his consort. In later Gaudiya and Nimbarka traditions she is identified with Radha.[7] The prefix Sri is used for this sect because they give special importance to the worship of the Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, who they believe to act as a mediator between God and man.[4] A major portion of Sri Vaishnava theology is based upon this tenet.[4]

The present day Sri Sampradaya is a conflux of three great Vaishnav traditions all of which were rooted in the theology centering on the worship of Vishnu along with Lakshmi, namely, the popular Bhagavata tradition to which the Alvars belonged, the Pancharatra tradition which is essentially an offshoot of the Vedic system of worship that shares its roots with the Vaikhanasa liturgy & most importantly the Vedanta propunded by the Acharyas of this sampradaya starting from Nathamuni and continuing till date. Ramanuja was the first Acharya to systematically elucidate the Vishishtadvaita philosophy inherent in the Vedas and was also the pioneer is bridging the gap and strengthening the bond between these similar Vaishnava traditions.

The origin of this sampradaya's unique sort of devotionalism which is marked by the preponderance of a philosophical notion of surrender and servitude to Vishnu owes its origin to the Alvars and most importantly, to Nammalvar. The four thousand verses of Alvars including Nammalvar's immortal work Thiruvaymozhi are of the greatest importance in this sect. Thenkalais generally tend to emphasize more on the importance of Nalayira Divya Prabandham than the Vadakalais.

From the standpoint of liturgical origin, the Vaikhanasa tradition can be said to be of foremost importance as the Vaikhanasa scripture entitled 'Samurtarchanadhikarana' authored by Rishi Atri mentions that the Pancharatras arose as complementary texts to the Vaikhanasa Bhagavatshastras(liturgical texts). However, later on eminent Acharyas such as Vedanta Desika have mentioned in their works that Sri Vaishnavism arises from Ekayana shakha of Shukla Yajurveda. Usually it is believed that the Kanva Shakha of Shukla Yajurveda is the source of the Pancharatric texts.


Main article: Vishishtadvaita
Ramanujacharya embracing an icon of Lord Varadaraj(Vishnu)

The philosophy of Sri Vaishnava sampradaya is Vishishtadvaita i.e. : Qualified Monism(also called Emberumanar Darsanam in Tamil ). Ramanuja was the first of the Vedantic philosophers who made the identification of a personal God with the brahman, or Absolute Reality, of the Upanishads and the Vedanta-sutras the cornerstone of his system. As a personal God, Brahman possesses all the good qualities in a perfect degree, and Ramanuja does not tire of mentioning them. He interprets the relationship between the unitary and infinite brahman and the plural and finite world in a novel way, which has full support in the Upanishads. For him the relation between the infinite and the finite is like that between the soul and the body. Hence nonduality is maintained, while differences can still be stated. Soul and matter are totally dependent on God for their existence, as is the body on the soul. God has two modes of being, as cause and as product. As cause, he is in his essence qualified only by his perfections; as product, he has as his body the souls and the phenomenal world. There is a pulsating rhythm in these periods of creation and absorption. For Ramanuja , release is not a negative separation from transmigration, or series of rebirths, but, rather, the joy of the contemplation of God. This joy is attained by a life of exclusive devotion (bhakti) to God and private worship, and constantly dwelling on his perfections. God will return his grace, which will assist the devotee in gaining release.


Emar(Embar) Mutt at Puri, Orissa

Right since the time of Ramanuja the Sri Sampradaya has been led by various monastic establishments and Acharyas appointed by Ramanuja himself or his valid successors. During his lifetime Ramanuja had appointed 74 Acharyas to propagate Sri Vaishnavism, among them a few were distinguished Jeeyars(renunciates) who established important monasteries that exist till date. The Tirumala Jeeyar Swamy Mutt is one such establishment. Another famous Mutt established by Ramanuja himself is the famous Embar Mutt at Puri , Orissa. Other famous Mutts of this era include Yadugiri Yatiraj Mutt of Melukote, Karnataka and Sriranga Narayana Jeeyar Mutt at Srirangam.

Various famous Acharyas like Mudaliandan Swamy, Ananthazhwan, Thirukuruhai Piran Pillan, Varada Vishnu Acharya, Kidambi Achhan, and Parashara Bhatta were also entrusted with the responsibility of initiating people into this sampradaya and propagating Vishishtadvaita. Through this lineage, many notable institutions such as Vanamamalai Matam, Parakala Mutt, Ahobila Mutt, Andavan Ashramam, Chinna Jeeyar Ashramam, etc. have been functioning as organizational nerve centers of the Sri Sampradaya for many centuries ranging from 1400 A.D. to 1700 A.D. and even the twentieth century. Today, there are more than a 100 notable Sannyasis and Acharya Purushas with thousands of disciplines serving the cause of Vishishtaadvaita. The Acharyas dedicate their lives to provide spiritual support to individuals seeking the path of SharaNagathi or absolute surrender under the unbroken lineage that traces back to Bhagavadh Ramanuja.


Vadagalai thiruman kappu 1

The two main sects into which the Sri Sampradaya is divided are Thenkalai and Vadakalai. These sects arose as a result of philosophical and traditional differences in the post Ramanuja period. Both of the sects uphold Ramanuja as the ultimate preceptor of their sampradaya. The Thenkalai sampradaya hails from the Guru parampara of Swami Pillai Lokacharya and Manavala Mamunigal who is considered to be the reincarnation of Ramanuja by the Thenkalais. The Thenkalais accept the Oran Vazhi (i.e. exalted) Guru parampara and their views are shaped by the philosophical expositions of Parasara Bhattar, Pillai Lokacharya and Manavala Mamunigal. The most prominent Thenkalai Mutts are Vanamamalai Mutt, Tirumala Jeeyar Swamy Mutt, Yadugiri Yatiraj Mutt of Melukote , Emar Matha of Puri, Sriranga Narayana Jeeyar Mutt of Srirangam , Vadi Kesari Azhagia Manavala Jeeyar Mutt of Kanchipuram etc. The Acharya parampara of Sri Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Annangaracharya Swamiji is considered to be one of the most exalted spiritual lineages of this sect. The Thenkalais have a more liberal standpoint regarding caste. The sudra weavers and artisans of various districts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh received initiation from Thenkalai Acharyas, in the 15th century the movements aimed at social upliftment had gained momentum and Thenkalai sampradaya had gained a fillip by offering a liberal, popular form of Vaishnavism that appealed to the masses.[8] Thus the Thenkalai sect received a wider following and took a flexible stance about caste-barriers. Recitation of the Divya Prabandhams composed by the Alvars is an important practice in this sect.

The Vadakalai sect traces its lineage back to Thirukurahi Piran Pillan, Kidambi Acchan and other direct disciples of Ramanuja and considers Vedanta Desika to be the greatest Acharya of the post Ramanuja era. Vadakalai Mutts like Parakala Mutt, Ahobila Mutt, Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashramam & Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam have been the torchbearers in dissemination of Vadakalai Sri Vaishnavism. The Vadakalais give greater emphasis on the role of Lakshmi i.e. Sri and uphold Sanskrit Vedas as the ultimate "PramaaNam" or authority, although Ubhaya Vedanta (both Sanskrit Vedas and Dravida Veda which is the composition of Alwars—are held in equal esteem) is used to infer from and establish the doctrine of Vishishtaadvaita. The Vadakalais infer that all of the Alwars compositions are derived from Vedas and one would always have go to the ultimate source to reference and defend the doctrine. Vadakalais lay emphasis on Vedic norms (also known as anushtaanams) as established by Rishis and all preceptors.

The Munitraya Sampradaya of the Vadakalai sect belong to the Rahasyatraya parampara of Pranatharthiharan who was also known as Kidambi Achan, their Sri Bhashya & Bhagavatvishaya parampara is the same as that of the rest of the Vadakalais.


Initiation into the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya takes place through Pancha Samskara Diksha(Samashrayan) and Bharanyasam.

Later developments[edit]


Main article: Thenkalai
Thenkalai Sri Vaishnava urdhva pundram

In the post Ramanuja period various other Acharyas propagated the Sri Vaishnava faith, one of the most noteworthy among the Acharyas of the Thenkalai sect is Manavala Mamunigal who was born in Alwarthirunagiri to Thigazha Kidanthan Thirunavirudaya Piran and Sri Ranga Nachiyar as an avataram of Adisesha and a punar Avatara of Anaiththulagum Vazhappirantha Yathirajar (அனைத்துலகும் வாழப்பிறந்த யதிராஜர்) i.e. Ramanuja and is also known by many other names such as Azhagiya Manavala Mamunigal, Sundhara Jamatara Muni, Ramya Jamatara Muni, Ramya Jamatara Yogi, Varavaramuni, Yathindhra pravanar, Kanthopayantha, Ramanujan ponnadi, Soumya jamathru yogindhrar, Koil Selva manavala mamunigal etc. He also has the titles Periya Jeeyar, Vellai Jeeyar, Visthavak sikhamani, Poi IllAtha Manavala Mamuni, etc. He appointed eight exalted scholars of Vishishtadvaita commonly known as 'Ashtadiggajas' , they were :

Vijayraghav Mandir of Ayodhya, one of the most famous Thenkalai Sri Vaishnava establishments of the holy city

Vanamamalai Jeeyars coming in the lineage of the first Vanamamalai Jeeyar established innumerable Sri Vaishnava Mutts throughout India, including the Jeeyar Swamy Mutt at Puri and the Uttara Totadri Mutt at Vibhishan kund of the holy city of Ayodhya. Other Acharyas like Koil Annan and Prathivadi Bhayankar (PB) Annan of Kanchipuram had acquired innumerable disciples throughout India. The well known Govardhan Gaddi , originally Founded by Nathamuni & situated at Govardhan near Vrindavan , was taken over by Koil Kanthadai Annan at the instruction of Manavala Mamunigal; since then his successors have been in control of this institution. In the mid 19th century the famous Ranganathji temple of Vrindavan was built by three wealthy merchants Radhakrishna, Govinda and Lakshmichand Seth from Mathura and it was handed over by them to their spiritual preceptor Sri Rangadeshika Swamiji of Koil Kanthaadai Annan's lineage. Sri Rangadeshika Swamiji popularized Sri Vaishnavism throughout North India in the 19th century and it was he whose influence ensured the flourishing of Sri Vaishnavism at very many places that had previously never known it, his spiritual successors still adorn the trustee board of the Ranganathji temple. Sri Rangadeshik Swamiji was born in the year 1809 A.D at a small village called Arahan near present-day Sriperumbudur. The Vijayraghav mandir and Asharfi Bhavan of Ayodhya are of his lineage. The Balaram Dharma Sopan of Khardaha in Kolkata is a subsidiary Mutt of the Vijayraghav mandir.

Vanamamalai Mutt is an ancient Sri Vaishnava Mutt established by Ponnadikkal Jeeyar under the orders of Manavala Mamunigal. Ponnadikkal Jeeyar was the first and foremost disciple and this mutt is one of the most important mutts of Sri Vaishnavas. Born as Azhagiya Varadar, he came to be famously known as Ponnadikkal Jeeyar. He is also known as Vanamamalai jeeyar, Vanadri yogi, Ramanuja Jeeyar, Ramanuja muni, etc. he was the first and the prime disciple of Azhagiya Manavala Mamunigal. Azhagiya Varadar became the first disciple of Azhagiya Manavala Mamunigal when Mamunigal was a householder. Azhagiya Varadar immediately accepted sannyasashramam and stayed with Mamunigal most of his life. Ponnadikkal means the one who laid the foundation of Mamunigal’s sishya sampad. he established many Totadri Mutts all over India and propagated Sri Vaishnavism in many regions.

The Tirupati Pedda Jeeyar Mutt was established in the year 1057 when Ramanuja came to Tirupati and established a Mutt there in order to ensure proper systematization and standardization of the rites & rituals followed in the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple and to safeguard it from Non-Vedic influences. For supervising the stipulated practices he appointed a Jeeyar as the representative of his Vedic faith, the first Jeeyar was Sri Tiruvenkata Pedda(Periya) Jeeyar.The Jeeyar is the overseer of all religious practices at the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. Later on Manavala Mamunigal acted as the Jeeyar of the temple and served for a brief period of three years. During his regime the Chinna Jeeyar Mutt was established. The Chinna Jeeyar is usually considered to be the successor to the Pedda Jeeyar.

In the modern times, Sri Kanchi PBA Swami has been the most renowned stalwart of Thenkalai lineage. Sri Kanchi Prativadi Bhayankaram Annangarachariar swami was born in the year 1891, ‘mina-visakham of year vikrti’, in srivatsa gotram, of the noble ‘mudumbai’ descent, same as sri pillai-lokacharya and his brother sri azhagia-manavala-perumal nayanar. ‘mithuna sukla-ekadasi’ is the ‘tiru-adhyayana-tithi’ of svami (1891-1983) of blessed memory. the title ‘prativadi-bhayankaram’ was given to his ancestor sri-hastigiri-anna, by no less than Sri Varada Nayanacharya, the son of Swami vedanta Desikan . This PB ‘mula-purusha’ became one of the chosen ‘ashta-dig-gaja’ disciples of sri-manavala mamunigal. thus, the Prativadibhayankar lineage represents the confluence of two eminent acharya, viz., Vedanta Desikan and Manavala Mamunigal. Hence the Prativadibhayankar eulogical couplet(Taniyan): “vedanta-desika-kataksha-vivrddha-bodham kantopayantr-yaminah karunaika-patram vatsanvavayam anavadya-gunai: upetam bhaktya bhajami paravadi-bhayankararyam” Prativadibhayankaram Annangaracharya Swami is remembered in Srirangam simply as the ‘Kanchi swami’. his education commenced under his own father, PB Sri Rangacharya who, in the short span of his life, had had such distinguished disciples as Jagadguru gaddi Anantacharya Swami who later established the Tiruvenkatamudaiyan sannidhi in Fanasvadi, Mumbai. The education continued under his maternal grandfather (later the azhagia-manavala jiyar alias chatus-shashti-kala jiyar) and Gadi swami himself, giving him an academic pedigree no university could ever match.In the world of letters, religion and philosophy, Kanchiswami was truly a renaissance figure. He was a ‘pratah-smaraniyah’ (one to remember at sunrise) to anyone who had had the fortune to meet him, or even to look at him from a way off, or had read any of his works, or had attended his discourse. His life, centred in Devaperumal (Srivaradaraja Perumal) as it was, wrote itself as a commentary on SriKrishna’s exhortation, “tasmat sarveshu kaleshu mam anusmara yudhya cha mayyarpita-mano-buddhih mam eva eshyasi asamsayah” (srimad-bhagavad-gita 8:7)

Sri Kanchi Prativadibhayankar Jagadguru Anantacharya Gaddi Swamiji, the spiritual preceptor of Tridandi Swami Vishwaksenacharyaji

His first publication was the title ‘divyaprabandha-vaibhava-vivekah’ written in Sanskrit to establish the canonical status of azhvar ‘arulichcheyal’ as equal to the ‘girvana vedam’. his monumental work consisted of the first-ever publication of the complete works of svamidesikan, sriramanuja, and manavala-mamunigal; his own Sanskrit translation of the divyaprabandham and of the ‘rahasya’ (esoteric) classics ‘mumukshuppadi’, ‘tatva-trayam’ and ‘srivachana-bhushanam’; and his own Tamil commentary ‘divyartha-dipika’ on the entirety of divya-prabandham, srivachana-bhushanam and acharya-hrdayam. His ‘veda-lakshana’ works are original investigations into vedic grammar and semantics, and have not been duplicated. his annual ‘tiruppavai’ discourses in Chennai city constituted his most visible service to the ‘sampradayam’, and these gave a festive look to the city environs themselves. besides the devaperumal ‘adhyapaka-goshthi’ in kanchipuram, he also adorned namperumal goshthi as its centrepiece whenever he visited srirangam. the ‘iyal-sattu’ has the verse “uzhi-torum...nul odi, vithi vazhi ena varum tiralai vazhttuvar tam malar adi en sennikku malarnda puve” (watch the devotees in formation walking the streets and reciting the divya-prabandham; and there be those that bless this ‘goshthi’, and i shall carry their sacred feet as a flower of decoration on my forehead.) this was the very sentiment evoked by Kanchi Swami’s goshthi. He died on (June 21, 1983) ‘mithuna sukla ekadasi’, the day of ‘ani-garudan’ marking Periazhvar sattumurai.

The revered saint Tridandi Swami of Buxar, Bihar was the disciple of a descendant of Prathivadi Bhayankar Annan and his Guru parampara is expanding even now. Jagadguru Swami Vasudevacharya, the Mahant of Koslesh Sadan, Ayodhya is a prominent Acharya hailing from this lineage. Swami Vishnuprapannacharya established the Nagoriya Mutt in Rajasthan in the 17th century, he was a contemporary of Ghanshyamacharya of Ahobila Mutt , the founder of Jhalariya Mutt, which was also established around the same time.

In Nepal the propagation of Sri Vaishnavism has mostly taken place through the initiative of the Vanamamalai Mutt and Sri Prativadibhayankar Swamiji's Guru parampara. The process had initially taken place from Muktinath, which is the most important Vaishnava pilgrimage in Nepal and later on spread to other areas. Yogiraj Swami Kamalnayanacharya's temple at Jhapa is at present an important centre of propagation of Sri Vaishnavism. Several Sri Vaishnava Mutts have grown up around the Muktinath temple and it serves as a rallying point for the Sri Vaishnavas of Nepal.


Main article: Vadakalai
Parakala Mutt painting of Vedanta Desikan with Brahmatantra Swatantra Jeeyar

The Parakala Mutt was founded by the first Brahmatantra Swatantra Jeeyar of Parakala Mutt more than 700 years ago . This Mutt's pontiffs have traditionally been the Guru of the Royal house of Mysore and have been receiving their patronage over the ages. Many other Vadakalai lineages have been associated the lineage of Brahmatantra Swatantra Jeeyar. The three most important spiritual lineages among the Vadakalais are those of :

The spiritual lineage of Srimad Andavan is further split into :

Adivan Shathakop Jeeyar , a disciple of Nadadoor Ammal's successor Ghatikashatam Ammal of Kanchi ,established the Ahobila Mutt about 600 years ago at Ahobilam . As per legends he was initiated into monkhood by Lord Narasimha Himself who is said to have appeared before him in a Brahmin's garb and handed him the renuniciate's robes and tridanda. Sri Ahobila Matam is headed by a monastic holding the title of Srimad Azhagiya Singar. The present Srimad Azhagiya Singar is the 46th Azhagiya Singar of Sri Ahobila Matam, Sri Ranganatha Yatheendra Maha Desikan. All the Azhagiya Singars also hold the title of Srivan and Satakopa at the beginning of their names, and Yathindra Mahadesikan at the end. "Srivan" roughly translates to "majestic". "Satakopa" simply refers to Nammazhvar, the presiding saint for Ahobila Mutt. "Yathindra Mahadesikan" roughly translates to "King among monastics, the great teacher". Each Azhagiya Singar adopts a monastic name at the time of entering monasticism. Thus, the divine name starts with the tile "Srivan Satakopa" at the beginning, the adopted name in the middle, and "Yathindra Mahadesikan" at the end. Further, some Azhagiya Singars also include the phrase "Sri Lakshminrisimha Divya Paduka Sevaka" (Servant of the paadukais of Sri Lakshminrisimha). The present Srimad Azhagiya Singar chose this phrase as a prefix. Therefore, "Sri Lakshminrisimha Divya Paduka Sevaka Srivan Satakopa Sri Narayana Yathindra Mahadesikan" is the present Azhagiya Singar's full divine title.

The Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashramam & the Sri Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam were founded by Srinivasa, Ranganatha and Vedanta Ramanuja (not to be confused with Ramanuja ), three disciples of Sri Thirukkudandai Gopala Desika who lived in the early 18th century . Sri Poundarikapuram Andavan (1847-1934) was an outstanding exponent of Hindu scriptures and one of the foremost Vaishnav scholars of his age. In his times a hermitage in sylvan surroundings arose near the Coleroon river bank in the northern edge of Srirangam, which had, since his time, acquired the distinctive name `Sri Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam'.

Srimad Sakshat Swamy, also known as Srimad Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadeshika Swamy wrote the 24,000 padi(elaborate commentary on Tiru-Arayirappadi), some of his other important works include Poorva Saara Swaadhini, Nyaasa Vidyaa Darpanam, Sri Tattva Siddhaanjanam etc.; he is regarded in the Munitraya lineage as one who possessed the greatness of Ramanuja and Nammalvar . His main disciple was Srimad Thirukkudandai Gopalarya Mahadesikan who remained busy throughout his life in the study of the Sri Sooktis of Vedanta Desika following the latter's footsteps who had spent his entire life studying the Sri Sooktis of Ramanuja. Uttara Saraswadhani, Swami Desika sahasra namam are to name a few among the Sri Sooktis of Srimad Tirukkudandai Gopalarya Mahadesikan Swamy. Srimad Srinivasa Mahadesikan Seyyanam, Srimad Sri Ranganatha Mahadesikan Vathirayiruppu and Srimad Vedanta Ramanuja Mahadesikan Vazhuthur became the disciples of Srimad Tirukkudandai Gopala Desika. These three munis – collectively called 'munitrayam', expounded and propagated the principles of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta and upheld the Vadakalai Sri Vaishnava tradition in a pristine and orthodox form. Periya Andavan Sri Srinivasa Mahadesikan took Sanyas at an early age (very closely following his marriage) and lived a life of a lonely hermit on the banks of Cauvery, meditating on astakshara mantra continuously, surviving on temple rice along with Tulsi leaves and finally only fig leaves. He washed the rice in the waters of Cauvery to remove traces of fat – such was his aversion to luxury. While His ashtakshara siddhi kept attracting many disciples he remained rooted in dispassion and maintaining his strict food regimen, he soon came to be known as 'Vattal Swami' – One who resembled a dried fryum. The Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashramam , Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam, and most of the present-day Vadagalai 'svayam-acharya purusha' families are directly connected to this acharya parampara and follow the worship and ritual patterns outlined by Sri Gopalarya Mahadesikan .

Sri Balmukundacharyaji Maharaj of Jhalariya Mutt, Didwana, Rajasthan

Among the Vadakalais the propagation beyond the original domain of South India took place under the leadership of Srinivasacharya of Ahobila Mutt, through his disciples he established many Mutts at different places in North India, prominent among them were the Mutts at Varanasi , Chitrakoot and Pushkar . Ghanshyamacharya, of this spiritual lineage, established a Mutt in Rajasthan which is now famous as the Jhalariya Mutt. Srinivasacharya's main disciple Narasimhacharya established a temple of Dwarkadhish in Varanasi on the spot where Lord Krishna slew the tyrannical ruler of Poundradesh with His Sudarshanchakra. To this spiritual lineage belonged the great scholarly and eloquent Acharya Swami Madhavacharyaji who soundly defeated the founder of Arya Samaj Dayananda Saraswati in a theological debate. Swami Janardanacharya, a successor of Swami Gopalacharya, was the Guru of Devraha Baba and had initiated the ageless saint into the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya on his request for the same. Through Devraha Baba Sri Vaishnavism further expanded and found innumerable new votaries all over North India. The Sugriv Qila temple at Ayodhya comes under this Guru parampara.

In Vrindavan , the Jankivallabh Mandir of Keshighat is a prominent Vadakalai Sri Vaishnava monastic institution and is associated with the spiritual lineage of the Ahobila Mutt. The present Azhagiya Singar has visited this well known institution in the past as well as recently. It is presently headed by Swami Sri Aniruddhacharyaji Maharaj. In Rajasthan the Jhalariya Mutt is one of the most prominent Mutts and its branches have spread over to the neighbouring regions of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Sri Swami Balmukundacharyaji was a distinguished scholar and renowned Acharya of this Mutt.


Main article: Vishishtadvaita

Sri Vaishnavism is primarily premised on the Vedantic exegeses of various Acharyas and the explanatory treatises written on various theological and liturgical canons. The Vedic Kalpasutras, especially those of Shukla Yajurveda, are particularly important in this sampradaya. The latter day Acharyas further elaborated on the earlier works.

Works of Nathamuni[edit]

Main article: Nathamuni

Nathamuni(Ranganathamuni) was one of the earliest proponents of Sri Vaishnavism and the main compiler of the lost works of Nammalvar . He composed three works, namely Nyaya Tattva, Purusha Nirnaya and Yogarahasya, a masterpiece on Ashtanga yoga. Nathamuni’s school of Ashtanga yoga was represented solely by Kurukaikkaavalappan on whose expiry it was said to be lost.

Works of Yamunacharya[edit]

Main article: Yamunacharya

Yamunacharya was the grandson of Nathamuni and the foremost Acharya before Ramanuja . He had composed a number of works on Sri Vaishnavism.

  • Chathusloki - a popular prayer in praise of Lakshmi
  • Stotraratnam - a prayer in praise of Narayana
  • Siddhitrayam - consisting of (i) Atmasiddhi. (ii) Samvitsiddhi and (iii) Iswarasiddhi which describe the Vishistadvaita school of thought, describing a relation between the soul, God and the universe
  • Agama Pramanya - stating the authority of Pancharatra agama
  • Maha Purusha Nirnayam - describing that the ultimate reality is the divine couple Sri i.e. Lakshmi and Narayana
  • Gitartha Sangraha - a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita
  • Nitya Grantha
  • Mayavada Khandanam - a treatise on refuting the claims of Advaita Vedanta .

Works of Ramanuja[edit]

Main article: Ramanuja

Ramanuja's works serve as the beacon of self-realization and salvation to all Sri Vaishnavas , Ramanuja's first work was the Vedarthasangraha (Summary of the Meaning of the Vedas). It sets out Ramanuja’s philosophy, which is theistic (it affirms a morally perfect, omniscient and omnipotent God) and realistic (it affirms the existence and reality of a plurality of qualities, persons and objects). This work is referred to several times in Ramanuja's magnum opus, his commentary on the Brahma Sutra, the Sri Bhasya (also known as his Brahma Sutra Bhashya). This is the work that Ramanuja is best known by outside of the Sri Vaishnava tradition. In conjunction to this large commentary on the Brahma Sutra , Ramanuja apparently wrote two more shorter commentaries: Vedantapida, and Vedantasara. Aside from the Vedarthasangraha and Sri Bhasya, Ramanuja's most important philosophic work is a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (Bhagavad Gita Bhashya). In addition to these philosophic works, Ramanuja is held by tradition to have written three prose hymns called collectively the Gadya Traya, which include the Sharanagati Gadya, Shriranga Gadya and the Vaikuntha Gadya). The Sharanagati Gadya is a dialogue between Ramanuja and the Hindu deities Shri (Lakshmi) and Narayana (Vishnu) (Who jointly comprise God, or Brahman, for Ramanuja) in which Ramanuja surrenders himself before God and petitions Vishnu , through Lakshmi, for his Grace. Vishnu and Lakshmi , for their part, respond favorably to Ramanuja's act of surrender. The Sriranga Gadya is a prayer of surrender to the feet of Ranganatha (This is Vishnu in his repose on the many headed serpent Adisesa -'ancient servant,' ‘ancient residue,’ or ‘primeval matter'- on the milk ocean.) The Vaikuntha Gadya describes in great detail the eternal realm of Vishnu, called Vaikuntha, on which one should meditate in order to gain liberation. Finally Ramanuja is held to have authored a manual of daily worship called the Nityagrantha.

Post Ramanuja period authors[edit]

After Ramanuja several authors composed important theological and exegetical works on Sri Vaishnavism. Such authors include Parsara Bhattar , Nadadoor Ammal, Engal Azhwan, Sudarshan Suri, Pillai Lokacharya , Vedanta Desika , Manavala Mamunigal , Vadakku Thiruveedhi Pillai(also called Krishnapada Swamy), Periyavachan Pillai, Nayanarachan Pillai, Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Nayanar, Rangaramanuja Muni etc. The differences of opinion between the Acharyas in their works regarding the nature of Sharanagati, the role of Lakshmi and several other philosophical and theological differences gave rise to two distinct sects within Sri Vaishnavism, namely Vadakalai and Thenkalai.

Centres of Pilgrimage - Divya Desams[edit]

Main article: Divya Desams
Srirangam rajagopuram

The works of the Alvars mention the presence of 108 Divya Desams which are of utmost spiritual importance to Sri Vaishnavas. Each of these Divya Desams are centres of pilgrimage and have arisen from the presence of a particular temple dedicated to Lord Narayana that was glorified by one(or more) of the 12 Alvars. 105 Divya Desams are in India, one(Muktinath temple) is in Nepal, while two are beyond the earthly realm. The foremost Divya Desam is Srirangam , the place chosen by Lord Ranganatha( Narayana ) Himself as his earthly abode for the entire Kaliyuga. According to the SriRanga Mahatmyam, as a result of Brahma's tapas, the glittering SriRanga Vimanam sprang from the depths of the Milky ocean (Paarkadal). The expression 'Sriranga Vimanam' is used to denote the turret as well as the oval shaped sanctum beneath it, containing the image of the reclining Ranganatha( Narayana ). The turret, the sanctum and the image form a single whole and are inseparably associated with one another. The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple of Srirangam is the largest Vishnu temple in the world.

108 Divya Desams
North/South[Andhra Pradesh]/West India&Nepal Malai Nadu Madurai Kanchipuram Chennai

1. Tirumala-Tirupati - Andhra Pradesh
2. Ahobilam - Andhra Pradesh
3. Muktinath, Saligramam Nepal
4. Naimisaranya - Uttar Pradesh
5. Mathura - Uttar Pradesh
6. Gokul - Uttar Pradesh
7. Devaprayag - Uttarakhand
8. Tirumala - Andhra Pradesh
9. Badrinath temple - Uttarakhand
10. Ayodhya - Uttar Pradesh
11. Dwarka - Gujarat

12. Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple Thiruvananthapuram
13. Thirukatkarai
14. Moozhikkalam
15. Tiruvalla
16. Thirukadithanam
17. Sengunroor
18. Thiruppuliyoor
19. Thiruvaaranvilai
20. Thiruvanvandoor
21. Thiru naavaay
22. Viththuvakkodu

23. Thirumeyyam
24. Thirukoshtiyur
25. Koodal Azhagar Temple
26. Azhagar Kovil
27. Tirumogoor
28. Srivilliputhur
29. Tiruththangal
30. Thiruppullani

31. Tirukkacchi
32. Ashtabujakaram
33. Tiruvekkaa
34. Tiruththanka
35. Tiruvelukkai
36. Tirukalvanoor
37. Tiru oorakam
38. Tiru neeragam
39. Tiru kaaragam
40. Tirukaarvaanam
41. Tiru parameswara vinnagaram
42. Tiru pavala vannam
43. Tiru paadagam
44. Tiru nilaaththingal thundam
45. Thiruputkuzhi

46. Thiruvallikeni
47. Thiruneermalai
48. Thiruvidandai
49. Thirukadalmallai
50. Thiruninravur
51. Thiruvallur
52. Thirukkadigai

Mayiladuthurai and Sirkazhi Thanjavur Trichy Tirunelveli Kanyakumari

53. Thiruvazhunthoor
54. Thiruindaloor
55. Kazheesirama Vinnagaram
56. Thirukkavalampadi
57. Thiruchsemponsey
58. Thiruarimeya Vinnagaram
59. Thiru Vanpurushothamam
60. Thiruvaikunda vinnagaram
61. Thirumanimadam
62. Thiruthevanartthogai
63. Thiruthetriyambalam
64. Thirumanikkoodam
65. Thiruvellakkulam
66. Thiruppaarththanpalli
67. Thalai Sanga Nanmathiyam
68. Thiruchsirupuliyoor
69. Thiruvali-Thirunagari

70. Thiruccithra kootam
71. Thirukkannangudi
72. Thirunagai
73. Thiru Thanjai
74. Tirukkoilur
75. Thirukkoodaloor
76. Thiru Kavith Thalam
77. Thiru Adhanoor
78. Thirupullabhoothangudi
79. Thirukkudandhai
80. Thiruccherai
81. Thirunandipura Vinnagaram
82. ThiruNaraiyoor
83. Thiruvinnagar
84. Thiruvelliyangudi
85. Thirukkanamangai
86. Thirukkkannapuram
87. Thirukkandiyur

88. Sri Rangam
89. Thirukkozhi
90. Thirukkarambanoor
91. Thiruvellarai
92. Thiru Anbil
93. Thirupper Nagar
94. Thiruvanthipuram

95. Thiruvaramangai
96. Thirukkurungudi
97. Srivaikundam
98. Thiruvaragunamangai
99. Thiruppulingudi
100. Thirukkurugoor
101. Thirutthulaivillimangalam
102. Thirukkoloor
103. Thirukkulandhai
104. Thentirupperai

105. Thiruvattaru
106. Thiruvanparisaram

Vinnulagam (Outside the Earthly realm)

107. Thirupaarkadal
108. Thiruparamapadham

See also[edit]


  1. ^ S.Rangarajan (Sujatha) and T.S. Sundararajan. "Sri Nathamuni, and the path of twofold scripture". Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  2. ^ Narasimhacharya, Madabhushini (2004-01-01). Sri Ramanuja. p.15 ISBN 81-260-1833-X ISBN 978-81-260-1833-8. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  3. ^ Matchett, Freda (2000). Krsna, Lord or Avatara? The relationship between Krsna and Visnu: in the context of the Avatara myth as presented by the Harivamsa, the Visnupurana and the Bhagavatapurana. Surrey: Routledge. p. 254. ISBN 0-7007-1281-X.  p. 4 p. 200
  4. ^ a b c Swami Tapasyananda, Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, pg. 53, Ramakrishna Mission
  5. ^ Pg.25, Rural Society in Southeast India – by Kathleen Gough; Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York; ISBN 978-0-521-23889-2 hardback, ISBN 978-0-521-04019-8 paperback. Google Books. 1 January 1965. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  6. ^ Pg228, The religion of the Hindus – By Kenneth W. Morgan, Published by "Motilal Banarsidass", ISBN 81-208-0387-6. Google Books. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  7. ^ Klostermaier, Klaus K. (2007). A Survey of Hinduism (3 ed.). State University of New York Press. p. 206. ISBN 0-7914-7081-4. There is not even a mention of Sri, the consort of Vishnu in the earlier sources.. 
  8. ^ within SriVaishnavism, the Tengalai(southern sub-sect) was responsible for bringing into its fold many of the low Sudra castes

Further reading[edit]

  • Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dallapiccola
  • The Vernacular Veda: Revelation, Recitation, and Ritual (Univ of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.A. 1 January 1994), by Vasudha Narayanan
  • Understanding Hinduism, (ISBN 1844832015), by Vasudha Narayanan

External links[edit]