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SRI VAISHNAVA SAMPRADAYA or SRI VAISHNAVISM is a denomination within the Vaishnavism tradition of Hinduism . The name is derived from Sri referring to goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi
as well as a prefix that means "sacred, revered", and god Vishnu
Vishnu
who are together revered in this tradition.

The tradition traces its roots to the ancient Vedas
Vedas
and Pancaratra texts in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
and the devotional love of the divine (bhakti ) popularized by the Alvars with Tamil texts, songs and music. The founder of Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism is traditionally attributed as Nathamuni of the 10th century CE, its central philosopher has been Ramanuja
Ramanuja
of the 11th century who developed the Vishishtadvaita ("qualified non-dualism") Vedanta sub-school of Hindu philosophy . Tradition is based on the Vishistadvaita vedanta philosophy derived from Sanskrit Veda and Tamil Divya Prabandham. The tradition split into two sub-traditions around the 16th-century called the Vadakalai (sect giving Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Veda the first preference) and Thenkalai (sect giving Tamil Divya Prabandham the first preference).

CONTENTS

* 1 Name

* 2 History

* 2.1 Mythological origins * 2.2 Historical origins * 2.3 Reverence for the goddess and god

* 3 Philosophy

* 3.1 Vishishtadvaita * 3.2 Comparisons with Advaita Vedanta * 3.3 Comparisons with Protestant Christianity and Buddhism

* 4 Texts and scholarship

* 4.1 Nathamuni * 4.2 Yamunacharya * 4.3 Ramanuja
Ramanuja
* 4.4 Post Ramanuja
Ramanuja
period authors

* 5 Organization

* 6 Thenkalai and Vadakalai sub-traditions

* 6.1 Thenkalai sect ("southern") - Manavala Mamunigal
Manavala Mamunigal

* 6.1.1 Characteristics * 6.1.2 Demographics * 6.1.3 Notable Thenkalai people

* 6.2 Vadakalais ("northern") - Vedanta Desika
Vedanta Desika

* 6.2.1 Characteristics * 6.2.2 Guru
Guru
Parampara * 6.2.3 Demographics * 6.2.4 Notable Vadakalai people

* 7 See also * 8 Notes

* 9 References

* 9.1 Bibliography

* 10 Further reading * 11 External links

NAME

The name Srivaishnavism ( IAST
IAST
: Śrīvaiṣṇavism) is derived from two words, _Sri_ and _Vaishnavism_. The word Sri
Sri
(_Tiru_ in Tamil) refers to goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi
as well as a prefix that means "sacred, revered", and god Vishnu
Vishnu
who are together revered in this tradition. The word Vaishnavism refers to a tradition that reveres god Vishnu
Vishnu
as the supreme god. The followers of Srivaishnavism are known as Srivaishnava (IAST: Śrīvaiṣṇava, श्रीवैष्णव).

HISTORY

MYTHOLOGICAL ORIGINS

The tradition traces its roots to the primordial start of the world through Vishnu, and to the texts of Vedic era with both Sri
Sri
and Vishnu found in ancient texts of the 1st millennium BCE particularly to the puranas , Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita .

HISTORICAL ORIGINS

The historical basis of Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism is in the syncretism of two developments. The first is Sanskrit
Sanskrit
traditions found in ancient texts such as the Vedas
Vedas
and the Agama (Pancaratra), and the second is the Tamil traditions found in early medieval texts (_Tamil Prabandham_) and practices such as the emotional songs and music of Alvars that expressed spiritual ideas, ethics and loving devotion to god Vishnu. The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
traditions likely represent the ideas shared in ancient times, from Ganges
Ganges
river plains of the northern Indian subcontinent, while the Tamil traditions likely have roots in the Kaveri river plains of southern India, particularly what in modern times are the coastal Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
, Karnataka
Karnataka
and Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
region.

The tradition was founded by Nathamuni (10th century), who combined the two traditions, by drawing on Sanskrit
Sanskrit
philosophical tradition and combining it with the aesthetic and emotional appeal of the Bhakti movement pioneers called the Alvars . Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism developed in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
in the 10th century, after Nathamuni returned from a pilgrimage to Vrindavan
Vrindavan
in north India
India
(modern Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
).

Nathamuni's ideas were continued by Yamunacharya , who maintained that the Vedas
Vedas
and Pancaratras are equal, devotional rituals and bhakti are important practices. The legacy of Yamunacharya was continued by Ramanuja
Ramanuja
(1017-1137), but they never met. Ramanuja, a scholar who studied in an Advaita Vedanta monastery and disagreed with some of the ideas of Advaita, became the most influential leader of Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism. He developed the Visistadvaita ("qualified non-dualism") philosophy.

Around the 18th century, the Sri
Sri
Vaishnava tradition split into the _Vatakalai _ ("northern culture", Vedic) and _ Tenkalai
Tenkalai
_ ("southern culture", Bhakti). The _Vatakalai_ placed more emphasis on the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
traditions, while the _Tenkalai_ relied more on the Tamil traditions. This theological dispute between the Vedic and Bhakti traditions traces it roots to the debate between Srirangam
Srirangam
and Kanchipuram
Kanchipuram
monasteries between the 13th and 15th century. The debate then was on the nature of salvation and the role of grace. The Bhakti-favoring Tenkalai
Tenkalai
tradition asserted, states Patricia Mumme, that Vishnu
Vishnu
saves the soul like "a mother cat carries her kitten", where the kitten just accepts the mother while she picks her up and carries. In contrast the Vedic-favoring Vatakalai tradition asserted that Vishnu
Vishnu
saves the soul like "a mother monkey carries her baby", where the baby has to make an effort and hold on while the mother carries. This metaphorical description of the disagreement between the two sub-traditions, first appears in the 18th-century Tamil texts, but historically refers to the foundational ideas behind the _karma_-marga versus _bhakti_-marga traditions of Hinduism.

REVERENCE FOR THE GODDESS AND GOD

Along with Vishnu, and like Shaivism
Shaivism
, the ultimate reality and truth is considered in Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism to be the divine sharing of the feminine and the masculine, the goddess and the god. Sri
Sri
( Lakshmi
Lakshmi
) is regarded as the preceptor of the Sri
Sri
Vaishnava sampradaya. Goddess Sri
Sri
has been considered inseparable from god Vishnu
Vishnu
, and essential to each other, and to the act of mutual loving devotion. Sri
Sri
and Vishnu act and cooperate in the creation of everything that exists, and redemption. According to some medieval scholars of Srivashnava theology, states John Carman, Sri
Sri
and Vishnu
Vishnu
do so using "divine knowledge that is unsurpassed" and through "love that is an erotic union". But Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism differs from Shaivism, in that Vishnu
Vishnu
is ultimately the sole creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe while Sri
Sri
Lakshmi
Lakshmi
is the medium for salvation, the kind mother who recommends to Vishnu
Vishnu
and thereby helps living beings in their desire for redemption and salvation. In contrast, in Shaivism, the goddess (Shakti) is the energy and power of Shiva and she is the equal with different roles, supreme in the role of creator and destroyer.

The prefix _ Sri
Sri
_ is used for this sect because they give special importance to the worship of the Goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi
, the consort of Vishnu
Vishnu
, who they believe to act as a mediator between God Vishnu
Vishnu
and man.

PHILOSOPHY

VISHISHTADVAITA

Main article: Vishishtadvaita

Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism's philosophical foundation was established by Ramanuja, who started his Vedic studies with Yadava Prakasha in an Advaita Vedanta monastery. He brought Upanishadic ideas to this tradition, and wrote texts on qualified monism , called _Vishishtadvaita_ in the Hindu tradition. His ideas are one of three subschools in Vedanta , the other two are known as Adi Shankara 's Advaita (absolute monism) and Madhvacharya 's Dvaita (dualism).

Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita asserts that Atman (souls) and Brahman are different, a difference that is never transcended. God Vishnu alone is independent, all other gods and beings are dependent on Him. However, in contrast to Dvaita Vedanta philosophy of Madhvacharya, Ramanuja
Ramanuja
asserts "qualified non-dualism", that souls share the same essential nature of Brahman, and that there is a universal sameness in the quality and degree of bliss possible for human souls, and every soul can reach the bliss state of God Himself. While the 13th- to 14th-century Madhvacharya asserted both "qualitative and quantitative pluralism of souls", Ramanuja
Ramanuja
asserted "qualitative monism and quantitative pluralism of souls", states Sharma. The other philosophical difference between Madhvacharya's Vaishnavism Sampradaya and Ramanuja's Vaishnavism Sampradaya, has been on the idea of eternal damnation; Madhvacharya believed that some souls are eternally doomed and damned, while Ramanuja
Ramanuja
disagreed and accepted the Advaita Vedanta view that everyone can, with effort, achieve inner liberation and spiritual freedom (moksha ). THEOLOGY

Śrīvaiṣṇava theologians state that the poems of the Alvars contain the essential meaning of the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Vedas
Vedas
. — John Carman and Vasudha Narayanan

According to Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism theology, _moksha_ can be reached by devotion and service to the Lord and detachment from the world. When _moksha_ is reached, the cycle of reincarnation is broken and the soul is united with Vishnu, though maintaining their distinctions, in _Vaikuntha_, Vishnu's heaven. Moksha
Moksha
can also be reached by total surrender and _saranagati_, an act of grace by the Lord.

God, according to Ramanuja's Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism philosophy, has both soul and body; all of life and the world of matter is the glory of God's body. The path to Brahman (Vishnu), asserted Ramanuja, is devotion to godliness and constant remembrance of the beauty and love of personal god (_saguna_ Brahman, Vishnu), one which ultimately leads one to the oneness with _nirguna_ Brahman.

COMPARISONS WITH ADVAITA VEDANTA

Ramanuja
Ramanuja
accepted that the Vedas
Vedas
are a reliable source of knowledge, then critiqued other schools of Hindu philosophy, including Advaita Vedanta, as having failed in interpreting all of the Vedic texts. He asserted, in his _ Sri
Sri
Bhasya_, that _purvapaksin_ (previous schools) selectively interpret those Upanishadic passages that support their monistic interpretation, and ignore those passages that support the pluralism interpretation. There is no reason, stated Ramanuja, to prefer one part of a scripture and not other, the whole of the scripture must be considered on par. One cannot, according to Ramanuja, attempt to give interpretations of isolated portions of any scripture. Rather, the scripture must be considered one integrated corpus, expressing a consistent doctrine. The Vedic literature, asserted Ramanuja, mention both plurality and oneness, therefore the truth must incorporate pluralism and monism, or qualified monism.

This method of scripture interpretation distinguishes Ramanuja
Ramanuja
from Adi Shankara. Shankara's exegetical approach _Samanvayat Tatparya Linga_ with _Anvaya-Vyatireka_, states that for proper understanding all texts must be examined in their entirety and then their intent established by six characteristics, which includes studying what is stated by the author to be his goal, what he repeats in his explanation, then what he states as conclusion and whether it can be epistemically verified. Not everything in any text, states Shankara, has equal weight and some ideas are the essence of any expert's textual testimony. This philosophical difference in scriptural studies, helped Shankara conclude that the Principal Upanishads primarily teach monism with teachings such as _Tat tvam asi_, while helping Ramanuja
Ramanuja
conclude that qualified monism is at the foundation of Hindu spirituality.

COMPARISONS WITH PROTESTANT CHRISTIANITY AND BUDDHISM

John Carman, a professor at the Harvard Divinity School , states that some of the similarities in salvation ideas in Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism and Protestant Christian doctrines of divine grace are striking. Both accept God as a personal concept, accept devotee's ability to relate to this God without human intermediaries, and accept the idea of _sola gratia_ – salvation through faith by the grace of God alone, such as those found in Martin Luther's teachings. While both Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism and Protestant Christianity accept a supreme God and shares ideas on the nature of salvation, they differ in their specifics about incarnation such as Jesus Christ being the only incarnation in Christianity, while Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism accepts many incarnations (avatar ) of Vishnu. Christian missionaries in 19th century colonial British India, noted the many similarities and attempted to express the theology of Christianity as a _bhakti marga_ to Hindus, along the lines of Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism, in their mission to convert them from Hinduism to Christianity.

Similar teachings on the nature of salvation through grace and compassion, adds Carman, are found in the Japanese scholar Shinran's text on Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism, even though non-theistic Buddhism and theistic Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism do differ in their views on God.

TEXTS AND SCHOLARSHIP

Main article: Vishishtadvaita

Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism philosophy is primarily based on interpreting Vedanta , particularly the Upanishads , the Bhagavad Gita , the Brahma Sutras and the Narayaniya section of the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
. The Vaishnava Agama texts, also called the Pancaratra, has been an important part of Sri Vaishnava tradition. Another theological textual foundation of the tradition are the Tamil bhakti songs of the Alvars (7th to 10th century). The syncretic fusion of the two textual traditions is sometimes referred to as the _Ubhaya Vedanta_, or dual Vedanta. The relative emphasis between the two has been a historic debate within the Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism tradition, which ultimately led to the schism into the Vatakalai and Tenkalai
Tenkalai
sub-traditions around the 18th century.

NATHAMUNI

Main article: Nathamuni

Nathamuni collected the poems of Nammalvar , in the form of _Divya Prabandham_, likely in the 9th century CE, or the 10th century. One of his lasting contributions was to apply the Vedic theory of music on all the Alvar songs using Sanskrit
Sanskrit
prosody , calling the resulting choreography as divine music, and teaching his nephews the art of resonant bhakti singing of the Alvar songs. This precedence set the _guru -sisya-parampara_ (teacher-student-tradition) in Sri Vaishnavism. This style of education from one generation to the next, is a tradition called _Araiyars_, states Guy Beck, which preserved "the art of singing and dancing the verses of the Divya Prabandham" set in the sacred melodies and rhythms described in the Vedic texts.

Nathamuni's efforts to syncretically combine the Vedic knowledge and Alvar compositions, also set the precedence of reverence for both the Vedas
Vedas
and the Alvar bhakti ideas. Nathamuni's scholarship that set Alvar songs in Vedic meter set a historic momentum, and the liturgical and meditational songs continue to be sung in the modern era temples of Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism, which is part of the service called _cevai_ (Sanskrit: _Seva_).

Nathamuni is also attributed with three texts, all in Sanskrit. These are _ Nyaya Tattva_, _Purusha Nirnaya_ and _Yogarahasya_. The _Yogarahasya_ text, states Govindacharya, is a meditational text, includes the eight limb yoga similar to that of Patanjali, but emphasizes yoga as "the art of communion with God". The _Nyaya Tattva_ text survives only in quotes and references cited in other texts, and these suggest that it presented epistemic foundations ( Nyaya ) including the philosophical basis for the Hindu belief on the existence of "soul" (Atman ), in contrast to Indian philosophies such as Buddhism that denied the existence of soul. Nathamuni, for example asserts,

If "I" did not refer to the true self, there would be no interiority belonging to the soul. The interior is distinguished from the exterior by the concept "I". The aspiration, "May I, having abandoned all suffering, participate freely in infinite bliss", actuates a person whose goal is liberation to study scriptures etc. Were it thought that liberation involved the destruction of the individual, he would run away as soon as the subject of liberation was suggested... The "I", the knowing subject, is the inner self. — _Nyayatattva_, Nathamuni, ~9th-10th century, Translator: Christopher Bartley

YAMUNACHARYA

Main article: Yamunacharya

Yamunacharya was the grandson of Nathamuni , also known in Sri Vaishnava tradition as Alavandar, whose scholarship is remembered for correlating Alvar bhakti theology and Pancaratra Agama texts to Vedic ideas. He was the Acharya (chief teacher) of Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism monastery at Srirangam, and was followed by Ramanuja
Ramanuja
, even though they never met. Yamunacharya composed a number of works important in Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism, particularly _Siddhitrayam_ (about the nature of Atman, God, universe), _Gitarthasangraha_ (analysis of the Bhagavad Gita ), Agamapramanya (epistemological basis of Agamas, mapping them to the Vedas), _Maha Purushanirnayam_ (extension of Nathamuni's treatise), _Stotraratnam_ and _Chathusloki_ (bhakti strota texts).

Yamunacharya is also credited with _Nitya Grantha_ and _Mayavada Khandana_. The _Nitya Grantha_ is a ritual text and suggests methods of daily worship of Narayana
Narayana
(Vishnu). The 10th century _Mayavada Khandana_ text, together with _Siddhitrayam_ of Yamunacharya predominantly critiques the philosophy of the traditionally dominant school of Advaita Vedanta in Hindu philosophy , but also critiques non-Vedic traditions.

RAMANUJA

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

The Sri
Sri
Vaisnava tradition attributes nine Sanskrit
Sanskrit
texts to Ramanuja – _Vedarthasangraha_ (literally, "Summary of the Vedas
Vedas
meaning" ) _ Sri
Sri
Bhasya_ (a review and commentary on the _Brahma Sutras_), _ Bhagavad Gita Bhashya_ (a review and commentary on the _Bhagavad Gita_), and the minor works titled _Vedantapida_, _Vedantasara_, _Gadya Traya_ (which is a compilation of three texts called the _ Saranagati Gadyam _, _ Sriranga Gadyam _ and the _ Vaikunta Gadyam _), and _Nitya Grantham_.

Some modern scholars have questioned the authenticity of all but the three of the largest works credited to Ramanuja; the following texts are considered as authentically traceable to Ramanuja
Ramanuja
– _Shri Bhashya _, _Vedarthasangraha_ and the _ Bhagavad Gita Bhashya_.

Ramanuja's scholarship is predominantly founded on Vedanta, Upanishads in particular. He never claims that his ideas were original, but his method of synthesis that combined the Vedic ideas with popular spirituality, states Anne Overzee, is original. Ramanuja, wrote his biographer Ramakrishnananda, was "the culmination of the movement started from the Vedas, nourished by the Alvars, Nathamuni and Yamuncharya".

Ramunaja himself credits the theories he presents, in _Vedarthasangraha_, to the ideas of ancient Hindu scholars such as "Bodhyana, Tanka (Brahmanandin), Dramida (Dravidacarya), Guhadeva, Kapardin and Bharuci". The 11th-century scholarship of Ramanuja emphasized the concept of _Sarira-Saririn_, that is the world of matter and the empirical reality of living beings is the "body of Brahman ", everything observed is God, one lives in this body of God, and the purpose of this body and all of creation is to empower soul in its journey to liberating salvation.

POST RAMANUJA PERIOD AUTHORS

Main articles: Pillai Lokacharya , Manavala Mamunigal
Manavala Mamunigal
, and Vedanta Desika

After Ramanuja
Ramanuja
several authors composed important theological and exegetical works on Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism. Such authors include Parsara Bhattar , Nadadoor Ammal, Engal Azhwan, Sudarshan Suri, Pillai Lokacharya , Vedanta Desika
Vedanta Desika
, Manavala Mamunigal
Manavala Mamunigal
, Vadakku Thiruveedhi Pillai (also called Krishnapada Swamy), Periyavachan Pillai, Nayanarachan Pillai, Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Nayanar, Rangaramanuja Muni.

ORGANIZATION

The Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism tradition has nurtured an institutional organization of _matha -s_ (monasteries) since its earliest days, particularly from the time of Ramanuja. After the death of Yamunacharya, Ramanuja
Ramanuja
was nominated as the leader of the Srirangam matha, though Yamunacharya and Ramanuja
Ramanuja
never met. Amongst other things, Ramanuja
Ramanuja
is remembered in the Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism tradition for his organizational skills and the lasting institutional reforms he introduced at Srirangam, a system paralleling those at Advaita monasteries of his time and where he studied before joining Srirangam matha. Ramanuja
Ramanuja
travelled and founded many Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism _mathas_ across India, such as the one in Melukote . The Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism tradition believes that Ramanuja
Ramanuja
started 700 mathas, but historical evidence suggests several of these were started later. Left: The Parakala monastery of Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism Right: A Vishnu
Vishnu
temple attached to Ahobila monastery.

The _matha_, or a monastery, hosted numerous students, many teachers and an institutionalized structure to help sustain and maintain its daily operations. A _matha_ in Vaishnvaism and other Hindu traditions, like a college, designates teaching, administrative and community interaction functions, with prefix or suffix to names, with titles such as _Guru_, _Acharya_, _Swami_ and _Jiyar_.

A _Guru_ is someone who is a "teacher, guide or master" of certain knowledge. Traditionally a reverential figure to the student in Hinduism, the _guru_ serves as a "counselor, who helps mold values, shares experiential knowledge as much as literal knowledge, an exemplar in life, an inspirational source and who helps in the spiritual evolution of a student."

An _Acharya_ refers to either a Guru
Guru
of high rank, or more often to the leader of a regional monastery. This position typically involves a ceremonial initiation called _diksha_ by the monastery, where the earlier leader anoints the successor as _Acharya_. A _Swami_ is usually those who interact with community on the behalf of the _matha_. The chief and most revered of all Vaishnava monasteries, are titled as _Jeer_, _Jiyar_, _Jeeyar_, or _Ciyar_.

The Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism mathas over time, subdivided into two, those with Tenkalai
Tenkalai
(southern) tradition and Vadakalai (northern) tradition of Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism. The Tenkalai-associated mathas are headquartered at Srirangam, while Vadakalai mathas are associated with Kanchipuram. Both these traditions have from 10th-century onwards considered the function of _mathas_ to include feeding the poor and devotees who visit, hosting marriages and community festivals, farming temple lands and flower gardens as a source for food and worship ingredients, being open to pilgrims as rest houses, and this philanthropic role of these Hindu monasteries continues. In the 15th-century, these monasteries expanded by establishing _Ramanuja-kuta_ in major South Indian Sri Vaishnavism locations. The organizationally important Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism _matha_ are:

* Tenkalai
Tenkalai
tradition

* Srirangam
Srirangam
* Vanamamalai * Tirukkurungudi

* Vadakalai tradition

* Parakala * Ahobila * Andavan

THENKALAI AND VADAKALAI SUB-TRADITIONS

The Sri
Sri
Vaishnava tradition has two major sub-traditions, called the _Vadakalai_ ("northern") and _Thenkalai_ ("southern"). The term northern and southern sub-traditions of Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism refers respectively to Kanchipuram
Kanchipuram
(the northern part of Tamil country) and Srirangam
Srirangam
(the southern part of Tamil country and Kaveri river delta area where Ramunuja wrote his Vedanta treatises from).

These sub-traditions arose as a result of philosophical and traditional differences in the post Ramanuja
Ramanuja
period. The _Vatakalai_ relied stronger on the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
texts such as Vedas
Vedas
and Pancaratras (Tantric), while the _Tenkalai_ emphasized bhakti texts such as the Prabandhas of Alvars.

From the early days, the Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism movement grew with its social inclusiveness, where emotional devotionalism to personal god (Vishnu) was open without limitation to gender or caste, a tradition led by Alvars in the 7th to 8th century. Ramanuja
Ramanuja
philosophy negated caste, states Ramaswamy. Ramanuja, who led from the Srirangam
Srirangam
temple welcomed outcastes into temples and gave them important roles in temple operations, with medieval temple records and inscriptions suggesting that the payments and offerings collected by the temple were shared regardless of caste distinctions.

Scholars offer divergent views on the relative approach of the two sub-traditions on caste and gender. Raman states that Tenkalai
Tenkalai
did not recognize caste barriers and were more liberal in assimilating people from all castes, possibly because this had been the tradition at Srirangam
Srirangam
from the earliest days of Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism. In contrast, Sadarangani states that it was Vatakalai who were more liberal and who did not recognize caste barriers, possibly because they were competing with the egalitarian Vira-Shaiva Hindus (Lingayatism) of Karnataka.

The Thenkalai tradition brought into their fold artisanal castes (Shudras) into community-based devotional movements, and writes Raman, "it can almost be said that the Tenkalai
Tenkalai
represented the anti-caste tendencies while the Vadakalai school championed the cause of purity of the Vedic tenets." The Tenkalai
Tenkalai
held, adds Raman, that anyone can be a spiritual teacher regardless of caste.

The Vadakalai tradition, states Sadarangani in contrast to Raman's views, were the liberal cousin of Tenkalai
Tenkalai
and therefore more successful in gaining devotees, while in southern Tamil lands Shaivism prospered possibly because of "Tankalai school of Vaishnavism being narrow and orthodox in approach". The Vadakalai school not only succeeded in northern Tamil lands, she adds, but spread widely as it inspired the egalitarian Bhakti
Bhakti
movement in north, west and east India bringing in Bhakti
Bhakti
poet saints from "entire cross section of class, caste and society".

THENKALAI SECT ("SOUTHERN") - MANAVALA MAMUNIGAL

Thenkalai Sri
Sri
Vaishnava urdhva pundram

Characteristics

The Thenkalais place a higher important to Tamil shlokas than Sanskrit, and lay more emphasis on worship of Vishnu. The Thenkalai accept prapatti as the only means to attain salvation. They consider Prapatti as an unconditional surrender. The Thenkalais follow the Tamil Prabandham , and assert primacy to rituals in Tamil language
Tamil language
. They regard kaivalya (detachment, isolation) as an eternal position within the realm of Vaikuntha (Vishnu's 'eternal abode' or heaven), though it only exists at the outer most regions of Vaikuntha. They further say that God's seemingly contradictory nature as both minuscule and immense are examples of God's special powers that enable Him to accomplish the impossible.

According to Thenkalais, exalted persons need not perform duties such as Sandhyavandanam
Sandhyavandanam
; they do so only to set a good example. They don't ring bells during worship. Thenkalais forbid widows to shave (tonsure) their head, quoting the Parashara Smriti. while Vadakalais support the tonsure quoting the Manusmriti,

Demographics

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

The Thenkalai trace their lineage to Mudaliandan, nephew of Ramanuja
Ramanuja
The Thenkalai are followers of philosophy of Pillai Lokacharya and Manavala Mamuni , who is considered to be the reincarnation of Ramanuja
Ramanuja
by the Thenkalais.

Notable Thenkalai People

* Srinivasa Ramanujan
Srinivasa Ramanujan
(1887–1920), the Indian mathematician. * K.S. Krishnan (1898–1961), the Indian Physicist. * B.K.S Iyengar (1918 -2014) - founder of style of Yoga
Yoga
"Iyengar Yoga", * Alasinga Perumal - Desciple of Swami Vivekananda and one of the Founder of Brahmavadin which later became Vedanta Kesari * Sujatha Rangarajan - Writer, editor and engineer, key person behind development of Electronic Voting Machine for which he was awarded Vasvik * Ariyakudi Ramanuja
Ramanuja
Iyengar - Renowned Musician and architect of modern Carnatic music

VADAKALAIS ("NORTHERN") - VEDANTA DESIKA

Vadagalai thiruman kappu 1 Parakala Mutt
Parakala Mutt
painting of Vedanta Desikan with Brahmatantra Swatantra Jeeyar

Characteristics

The Vadakalais are followers of Ramanuja
Ramanuja
and Vedanta Desika
Vedanta Desika
, who founded the Vadakalai sampradaya based on the Sanskritic tradition. They lay more emphasis on the role of Lakshmi
Lakshmi
i.e. Sri, and uphold Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Vedas
Vedas
as the ultimate "PramaaNam" or authority, although Ubhaya Vedanta is used to infer from and establish the doctrine of Vishishtaadvaita. The Vadakalais infer that all of the Alwars compositions are derived from Vedas
Vedas
, and one would always have go to the ultimate source to reference and defend the doctrine. Vadakalais lay emphasis on Vedic norms as established by Rishis and all preceptors.

The Vadakalai ardently follows the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Vedas
Vedas
, and the set of rules prescribed by the Manusmriti
Manusmriti
and Dharma Shastras . The sect is based on the Sankritic tradition, and the set of rules prescribed by the _ Manusmriti
Manusmriti
_ and other Dharma Shastras . In Sanskrit
Sanskrit
the Vadakalai are referred to as UTTARA KALāRYA.

Traditionally, the Vadakalais believe in practising Karma yoga , Jnana yoga and Bhakti
Bhakti
yoga , along with Prapatti , as means to attain salvation. Also, they consider Prapatti as an act of winning grace.

The Tilak (Urdhva Pundra) mark of the Vadakalai men is a symbolic representation of Vishnu\'s right foot. Since Vishnu's right foot is believed to be the origin of the river Ganges
Ganges
, the Vadakalais contend that his right foot should be held in special veneration, and its sign impressed on the forehead. They also apply a central mark (Srichurnam) to symbolize the goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi
(Vishnu's wife), along with the thiruman (urdhva pundra). The Urdhva Pundra which is vertical and faces upwards denotes that it helps one in reaching Vaikunta (the spiritual abode of Lord Vishnu), and is also considered to be a protection from evil. Vadakalai women apply a red central mark only, symbolizing Lakshmi, on their foreheads.

Guru
Guru
Parampara

Sri
Sri
Balmukundacharyaji Maharaj of Jhalariya Mutt, Didwana, Rajasthan
Rajasthan

The Vadakalai sect traces its lineage back to Thirukurahi Piran Pillan, Kidambi Acchan and other direct disciples of Ramanuja, and considers Vedanta Desika
Vedanta Desika
to be the greatest Acharya of the post Ramanuja
Ramanuja
era.

The Vadakalai community consists of the following groups, based on the sampradaya followed:

* Pancharatra – Followers of Srimad Azhagiya Singar (Srinivasacharya) of Ahobila Mutt. The majority of Vadakalais belongs to this group. His disciples established Mutts at different places in North India, including Varanasi
Varanasi
, Chitrakoot and Pushkar
Pushkar
. Descendents:

* Narasimhacharya established a temple of Dwarkadhish in Varanasi
Varanasi
on the spot where Lord Krishna
Krishna
slew the tyrannical ruler of Poundradesh with His Sudarshanchakra.

* Acharya Swami Madhavacharyaji, who defeated the founder of Arya Samaj Dayananda Saraswati in a theological debate. * Hariramacharya established Jhalariya Mutt in Rajasthan
Rajasthan
* Ramdas Ramanujdas Achari, a disciple of Swami Balmukundacharya of Jhalariya, founded the Jagannath Mandir at Strand Road, Kolkata

* Munitraya – Followers of Srimad Andavan of Andavan Ashramams, and Swayamacharyas. The Srirangam
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
Sri
Gopalarya Mahadesikan .

* Periya Andavan Sri
Sri
Srinivasa Mahadesikan;

* Parakala – They are mostly followers Brahmatantra Swatantra Jeeyar of Parakala Mutt, Mysore
Mysore
. Founded in 1399 by Brahmatantra Parakala Jeeyar, the peetadhipathis of this mutt are the preceptors of the royal family of Mysore
Mysore
Kingdom , Wadiyars. This has stayed as a royal mutt of the kings since then, and is a mutt for all Iyengars under this category.

Other lineages include:

* Srimad Sakshat Swamy (Srimad Vedanta Ramanuja
Ramanuja
Mahadeshika Swamy); wrote the 24,000 padi (elaborate commentary on Tiru-Arayirappadi).

* Srimad Thirukkudandai Gopalarya Mahadesikan

* Uttara Saraswadhani, Swami Desika sahasra namam * Srimad Srinivasa Mahadesikan Seyyanam, Srimad Sri
Sri
Ranganatha Mahadesikan Vathirayiruppu and Srimad Vedanta Ramanuja
Ramanuja
Mahadesikan Vazhuthur

* The Munitraya Sampradaya of the Vadakalai sect, which belongs to the Rahasyatraya parampara of Pranatharthiharan, who was also known as Kidambi Achan. Their Sri
Sri
Bhashya and Bhagavatvishaya parampara is the same as that of the rest of the Vadakalais. * Swami Janardanacharya, a successor of Swami Gopalacharya, was the Guru
Guru
of Devraha Baba . The Sugriv Qila temple at Ayodhya
Ayodhya
belongs to this Guru
Guru
parampara.

Demographics

Traditionally, places of high importance with significant Vadakalai populations included Kanchipuram
Kanchipuram
, Kumbakonam
Kumbakonam
, Tiruvallur
Tiruvallur
, Mysore and Kurnool district . However, today much of the people have moved to the big cities.

In Vrindavan
Vrindavan
, the Jankivallabh Mandir of Keshighat is a prominent Vadakalai Sri
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
Sri
Aniruddhacharyaji Maharaj.

In Rajasthan
Rajasthan
the Jhalariya Mutt is one of the most prominent Mutts and its branches have spread over to the neighbouring regions of Gujarat
Gujarat
and Maharashtra
Maharashtra
. Sri
Sri
Swami Balmukundacharyaji was a distinguished scholar and renowned Acharya of this Mutt.

Notable Vadakalai People

* Gopala Bhatta Goswami (1503–1578), born a Vadakalai Iyengar, one of the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan
Vrindavan
in Chaitanya Vaishnavism , and a highly revered Guru
Guru
in ISKCON
ISKCON
. * Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (1878–1972), Indian politician and activist of the Indian independence movement . Premier of Madras (1937–1939), Governor of Bengal (1946–1948), Governor-General of India
India
(1948–1950), Union Home Minister (1950–1952) and Chief Minister of Madras state (1952–1954). Founder of Swatantra party . * C. V. Rungacharlu (1831–1883), Diwan of Mysore
Mysore
kingdom from 1881 to 1883. * T. S. S. Rajan (1880–1953), Indian politician and freedom-fighter. Member of the Imperial Legislative Council (1934–1936), Minister of Public Health and Religious Endowments (Madras Presidency) (1937–1939), Minister of Food and Public Health (Madras Presidency) (1946–1951). * Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989), an influential Yoga teacher, healer and scholar. * Agnihotram Ramanuja
Ramanuja
Tatachariar (1907–2008), renowned vedic scholar, and recipient of two national awards for his contribution to Vedic studies and Sanskrit
Sanskrit
literature. * R. Madhavan (b. 1970), Indian film actor.

SEE ALSO

* Ramanujacharya
Ramanujacharya
* Viśiṣṭādvaita * Vaishnavism * Alvars * Iyengar

NOTES

* ^ Brahman is the metaphysical ultimate unchanging reality in Vedic and post-Vedic Hinduism, and is Vishnu
Vishnu
in Sri
Sri
Vaishnavism. * ^ These two Vaishnavism traditions are respectively called the Sri
Sri
Vaishnava sampradaya and the Brahma sampradaya. * ^ This work is predominantly about the Hindu scriptures called the Upanishads which Ramanuja
Ramanuja
held as the essence of the Vedas. * ^ The texts of most of these scholars is lost to history. * ^ Brahman is the Vedic concept of metaphysical unchanging reality. * ^ He 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. * ^ The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Vedas
Vedas
and the Dravida Veda, the composition of Alwars, which are held in equal esteem * ^ Also known as anushtaanams

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FURTHER READING

* _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

* Introduction to Sri