Neelamegha Perumal Temple, Thirukannapuram – Religious Significance
The temple is revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the 7th–9th century Vaishnava canon, by Periyazhvar, Andal, Kulasekaraazhvaar, Nammazhwar and Thirumangai Azhwar. The temple is classified as a Divyadesam, one of the 108 Vishnu temples that are mentioned in the book. The temple is next only to Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple in terms of number of hymns dedicated to the presiding deity in Naalayira Divya Prabandam. The temple is also mentioned in 108 Tirupathi Anthathi by Divya Kavi Pillai Perumal Aiyangar. A work by T.S. Rajagopalan on Thirukannapuram glorifies the features of the temple.
This temple is one of the Panchakanna (Krishnaranya) Kshetrams and considered the foremost among the five temples. Kannan refers to Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu, while Pancha means five and Kshetrams refers to holy places. Four of the five temples are situated in Chola Nadu, in modern times, in the region surrounding Kumbakonam and Nagapattinam and one of them in Nadu Naadu. There are five similar temples located in North India, called Pancha-dvarakas. Krishna is not the presiding deity in any of the temples. The processional deity, Krishna, led to the derivation of the names of these places.
The Panchakannan Kshetrams are:
· Loganatha Perumal Temple at Thirukannangudi
· Gajendra Varadha Temple at Kabisthalam
· Neelamegha Perumal Temple at Thirukannapuram
· Bhaktavatsala Perumal Temple at Thirukannamangai
· Ulagalantha Perumal Temple at Thirukkovilur
Eight Holy Temples of Salvation:
Thirukannapuram is one among the eight temples including Tirupathi, Srirangam, Srimushnam, Nanguneri, Saligram, Pushkar and Padarikashram that are considered the eight holy centres of salvation in Vaishnava mythology. They are believed to stand for Ashtakshara (eight lettered) spell of "Hari Om Narayana", with each centre representing a letter each. The temple is the place where Vishnu is believed to have represented himself in all the eight forms, the combination of the all the eight temples. The temple is also called Bhoologa Vaikundam.
The eight holy temples of Salvation are:
· Tirupathi Venkateswara Temple
· Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple
· Srimushnam Temple
· Nanguneri Vanamamalai Perumal Temple
· Thirukkannapuram Neelamegha Perumal Temple