Vaishnavism traces its origin to the Vedas. It represents the devotees of Lord Vishnu.Vishnu the Protector is part of the Holy Hindu trinity of gods, which includes Shiva (the Destroyer), and Brahma (the Creator).
Vaishnavism considers Lord Vishnu as the Supreme Being as he is the Adhara or base of both sentient & insentient entities. According to the ancient Sangam literature of the Tamils, Sri Vishnu is the all-pervasive spirit within everything.
Lord Vishnu is the preserver of the entire Universe and is worshipped in ten Avatars namely Matsya Kurma,Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Rama, Parasurama, Balarama, Krishna and Kalki Avatars. The nature and purpose of each Avatar has been explained in the Bhagavatha and Vishnu Purana. The ten avatars are often thought to represent the concept of human evolution since Lord Vishnu is reincarnated as a fish, a boar, a half human-half lion, a dwarf and then a human being.
There have been a number of Seers and Acharyas (sages) like Sri Ramanuja and Sri Vedanta Desikan who spread Vaishnavism throughout ancient India.
The Alwars or the Mystic Saints also occupy an important position in the philosophy of Vaishnavism. They are well known for their divine songs, which contain in musical form the divine wisdom of over 4000 paasurams or verses. These are known as the Naalyaira Divya Prabandham.
A Brief Philospophical Guide
Vaishnavite philosophy accepts the social obligation of `Jiva`. It attempts to teach people how to live in the materialistic world by surrendering the fruits of all action at the feet of the all-pervasive Lord Vishnu.