Chief exponent of the Vishishtadvaita school of Vedanta and a great social reformer. “If I can bring deliverance to so many, I do not mind being condemned to hell,” he said, and spread his spiritual message to even the lowliest of classes of people. He established the Yatiraja Math and the Cheluvanarayanaswami temple at Melkote in Karnataka, and also renovated many ancient temples. He wrote many philosophical works and preached the oneness of mankind.
The worshippers of Vishnu are ‘Vaishnavas’. They devoutly worship Sri Rama and Sri Krishna, the incarnations of Vishnu. ‘Sri’ is Lakshmi. The devotees worship Mother Lakshmi and through her they try to propitiate Lord Vishnu. These devotees are the Srivaishnavas and they follow the tenets of Vishishtadvaita.
It was the Alwars, the Vaishnava devotees of Tamilnadu, who widely popularised the Srivaishnava religion. They lived between the sixth and the ninth centuries of the Christian era. They were twelve in number. They did not have any caste distinctions. These Vaishnava devotees were drawn from all castes of the Hindu religion. Today all of them are worshipped by the Srivaishnavas.
The tradition of the Acharyas began after the Alwars. ‘Acharya’ means a teacher. Among them Yamunacharya wasforemost. The next in succession was Ramanuja- charya. It was he who provided a good framework to the Bhakti cult. He gave a comprehensive form to the tenets of Vishishtadvaita. He propounded a philosophy, which could command a universal following.