Guru Parampara is the tradition that links the past with the present and future as the teachings of the preceptors of yore continue to live and influence generations of humanity. Vedanta Desika's hymn Yathiraja Sapthathi, which celebrates Ramanuja's contribution to the Vaishnava tradition, is prefaced by his homage to the entire Guru Paramapara. Starting from the Lord and His consort Goddess Sri, he pays obeisance to Vishvaksena, Satakopa or Nammazhwar, and then Nathamini, Uyakondaar, Manakkaal Nambi, Alavandar, Periya Nambi and Ramanuja. The invocatory verses on the Acharyas throw light on their individual excellences and the unique positions they hold in consolidating the Parampara, pointed out Navalpakkam Sri Ramachariar in a discourse.
Nammazhwar is credited with the task of making the work of the Vedas easier — for the Azhwar's hymns are most effective in inculcating the values of life along with total devotion to the Supreme Being. Will not this ensure liberation for each individual?
Nathamuni is believed to have written philosophical texts but they are not available today. He is also known for his yogic powers and his great gift to humanity is the revival of the Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the collection of the hymns of the Azhwars that had been lost. Uyakondar, Manakal Nambi (Rama Misra), Yamunacharya (Alavandar) and Periyanambi, have also enriched this tradition.
The organisation of the Vaishnava community came about through the efforts of Yamunacharya, the grandson of Nathamuni. He was well-versed in the Vedas, but having been adopted by a royal family, he lived a life of luxury.
It is said that once when he was young, the royal priest Akkiazhwan had challenged his proficiency and he came out victorious. He proved the flaws in logic when he argued with conviction that Akkiazwan's mother was barren, the king was not righteous and the queen unchaste.
At the opportune moment Mannakal Nambi drew him away from secular life towards his religious calling. When he saw his end, he indicated Ramanuja as his disciple to continue his efforts for this tradition.