The founder of Srivaishnavism, Ramanuja Acharya was influenced by the teachings of the Tamil Alwars. His parents were Keshavacharya and Kantimathi from Sriperambudur. When his wife refused to remove the plates in which his teacher (Guru) of the Shudra caste had taken food, Ramanjua was disgusted with her. He renounced family life and became a Sanyasi. Getting education at Kanchi he succeeded to a Gurupeetha vacated by great saint Yaamunacharya at Srirangam. The Srivaishnava movement he founded spread to north India also. In Karnataka the Hoysala ruler Vishnuvardhana welcomed him.
The most important work of Ramanuja is `Shribhashya’. `Vedantasara’, `Vedanta Sangraha’ and the commentary on the Bhagavadgita were his other works, all in Sanskrit. His philosophy is Vishiostaadvaita or qualified monism. Ramanuja condemned the Mayavada of Shankara (holding this world as illusory). Man and nature is dependant on Brahma. Thus Atma (individual) and Paramatma (the supreme soul or God) cannot be the one and the same, he argued. He propounded Bhakti (intense devotion) and Prapatti (self surrender to God) as the only means of attaining salvation, he commanded caste differences. He called the Panchamas (the untouchables) as Tirulattar’ (of the family of God) and tried to secure them social status. Raidas and Ramananda from the north were influenced by his philosophy. The Tuluva and the Aravidu rulers of Vijayanagar were adherents of his teachings.