Ramanuja is well-known as the great philosopher and acarya of the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya. However, it should not be misunderstood that he was the founder of the Sri Vaishnavas. Originally started by Laksmidevi Herself, the Sri sampradaya contained many exalted devotees prior to Ramanuja’s appearance to whom he admits his debt in his writings. In their expressions of devotion to the Supreme Lord, all South Indian devotees were influenced by the nine Alvars, who lived several hundred years before the birth of Ramanuja. Despite some minor philosophical differences, it is plain that the themes of devotion and surrender to God, which are essential to Ramanuja’s teachings, are based to a large extent on the writings of the Alvars.