A religious community in southern India that is devotees (bhakta) of the gods Vishnu and Shri (Lakshmi), and whose religious practice is based on the devotional songs of the Alvars, a group of twelve poet-saints who lived in southern India during the seventh and tenth centuries.

The Alvars were all Vishnu worshipers, and their emphasis on ardent devotion (bhakti) to a particular deity, expressed via hymns sung in Tamil, revolutionized Hindu religious life.

The philosopher Ramanuja, regarded the Shrivaishnava founder, collected and systematized the Alvars' spiritual outpouring two centuries later.

Ramanuja was believed that Brahman, or Supreme Reality, was a personal god rather than an impersonal abstract concept, and that the most significant kind of religious activity was devotion.

His philosophical viewpoint, Vishishthadvaita Vedanta, emphasized both of these ideas, and so stood in opposition to Shankaracharya's Advaita Vedanta school, which emphasized that the Supreme Being was impersonal and that realization (jnana) was the highest spiritual path.

The Shrivaishnava community separated into two smaller sects following Ramanuja, the Tengalai and the Vadagalai.

The division arose from a debate over whether human work was required for eventual emancipation or if hope comes from total submission (pra patti) to God's favor; the Vadagalais believed the former, while the Tengalais believed the latter.

In reality, the Shrivaishnava community has been heavily impacted by the Pancharatra religious group's theory of divine "emanations," specifically the idea that a properly consecrated picture becomes a manifestation of the god itself.

Shrivaishnava religiosity has traditionally revolved on temples and, in particular, the service of the temple's image, which is regarded a true representation of the god.

Given the emphasis on study and temple-based devotion, it's no surprise that the community has been dominated by brahmins, with the few non-brahmins having a clear lower position.

K. Rangachari's book The Sri Vaisnava Brahmans was published in 1931, and John Braisted Carman's book The Theology of Ramanuja was published in 1974.