The last three emanations are regarded not only as aspects of the divine
character, but as gods in their own right. Thus paradoxically the gods are both
one and many. Later their worship declined when the concept of Vishnu’s
incarnations became popular and dominated Vaishnavism during the Gupta
Age. All the above deified heroes were worshipped in the Mathura region by
people of Yadava-Satvata Vrisni origin (Krishna was a Yadava), and the
teaching was carried to western India and northern Deccan by migrating
Yadava tribes.
This ritualistic cult was founded by the legendary Vikhanas whose teaching
was disseminated by four ancient sages: Atri, Marici, Bhrigu and Kasyapa.
    Initially the cult formed part of the Taittiriya school of the Black Yajur
Veda, but later it became an orthodox Vaishnava cult. In its main text, the
Vaikhanasa Sutra (dated about the 3rd century AD), the cult of the Vedic solar
Vishnu coalesces with that of Narayana.
    Vaikhanasa ritual theory is based on the five-fold conception of Vishnu-
as brahman (the supreme deity); as purusha, as satya, as achyuta (the
immutable) and as aniruddha (the irreducible aspect). Performing the five-
fold ritual expiates evil and bestows happiness on everyone.
    Vishnu’s dasavataras are also worshipped for specific purposes. Image’
worship is important in this movement and is said to be a development of
symbolic Vedic ritual.
    From the end of the tenth century Vaikhanasa priests were in charge of
Vaishnava temples and shrines. Although somewhat eclipsed by the rise of
the Sri Vaishnava cult, the priests still perform rituals in the Sanskrit
language at some temples, including the Venkatesvara temples at Tirupati
and Kanchi.
Alvars or Vaishnava Saints
The history of Vaishnavism from the post-Gupta period till the first decade of
the 13th century AD is concerned mostly with south India. Vaishnava saints,
popularly known as Alvars in south India, preached one-souled, loving
adoration for Vishnu, and their