Thiru Parameswara Vinnagaram (Vaikunta Perumal Temple), Kanchipuram – Legends
Dvarapalas of Vishnu birth as sons to King Virocha:
As per Hindu legend, the region where the temple is located was called Vidharba Desa and ruled by a king named Virocha. Due to his misdeeds in preceding birth, Virocha had no heir. He prayed in Kailasanathar Temple and Shiva, the presiding deity of the temple gave a boon that the Dvarapalas (the gatekeepers) of the Vishnu temple will be born as sons to him. The princes were devoted to Vishnu and conducted yagna for the welfare of the people of their kingdom. Vishnu was pleased with the worship and appeared as Vaikundanatha to the princes.
Parameswaran Pallavan Birth:
Mothers Parvathi, Mahalakshmi and Saraswati came down to earth once to perform penance. Sages Athri, Brugu, Kashyapa, Kaundilya, Triorisheya, Bharadwaja and others helped them. After a while Lords Brahmma, Vishnu and Shiva came there to take the mothers back. The power of the penance of the Rishis was such that the Lords could not go near their consorts. They sent a beautiful Gandharva virgin near the sages. Sage Bharadwaja fell in love with her and had a son. Rishi prayed to Brahmma regarding the child’s upbringing. Vishnu and Brahmma came to his rescue and promised to take care of the child.
Lord Maha Vishnu took the form of a hunter and brought up the boy and named him Parameswara Varman. During the same period, a Pallava king, who was childless, was undertaking penance. They presented this child to the Pallava King and named him Parameswaran.
Vishnu as tutor to Parameswara Pallava:
He was a staunch Vishnu devotee since his infancy. Lord Vishnu taught him all the arts. By the time he was completing the courses, his life was coming to end. In order to extend his life to a long span, Lord reclined with his head on the northern side. Generally, it is believed that this would affect longevity of the person. When Yama the God of Death came to take the boy, he was shocked to see the Lord with his head towards north and understood that something bad or strange would happen. Lord simply told Yama that He would move only if he ensures long life to His devotee. Yama had no choice. He simply obeyed and turned away assuring long life to the boy-Parameswara Varman.
Boy Parameswaran asked the hunter-father who He was. Lord granted him his darshan. Lord is said to have appeared before the devoted Parameswara Varma in his three postures. Lord Vishnu is believed to have stood up and taught Parameswara 18 different arts of life. In his grand sitting posture, he is said to have passed on advice to Parameswara, as an acharya would to his disciple. And then he believed to have got into a sleeping posture so as to be served by Parameswara.
To mark these events, Parameswara Pallava is said to have built this 3 tier structure. The 2nd tier is open only on Ekadesi days. The steps to the 3rd Tier are said to have been damaged during Pallava Times because of rains and hence cannot be visited anymore. So attached was the Pallava king to this temple, that he used to invoke the blessing of this Lord before he embarked on any battle, especially before he went to face their arch rivals, The Pandyas. This has been brought out beautifully by Thirumangai Azhvaar in several of his Paasurams in praise of the Lord here.
“கார்மன்னு நீள் விசும்பும் கடலும் சுடரும் நிலனும் மழையும்
தன உந்தி தார் மண்ணு அழகு ஆய் கச்சி
தாமரைகண்ணன் இடம் தடம்
மா மதில் சூழ்ந்து
தேர்மன்னு தன்னவனை முனையில் செருவில்
திரள் வாட்டிய திண்சிலை யோன் பார் மண்ணு
திரள் வாட்டிய திண்சிலை யோன் பார் மண்ணு
பரமேஸ்வர வின்னகரமதுவே ” –Thirumangai Periya Tirumozhi
In his Mangalasasanam, Saint Tirumangai Azhwar mentions Parameswara Varman as the builder of Parameswara Vinnagaram – “Parameswara Varman Panindhavarum Parameswara Vinnagaram Adhuve”. The place is also named after him. As Azhwar’s Mangalasasanam has the name of the King, the grace of Lord to him stands established.
The extension of longevity to Parameswara Varman it is said was granted on a Vaikunda Ekadasi day, also a Wednesday. Worshipping Lord on this day will increase the longevity of the devotee, it is believed. It is also believed that this Kanchi Vishnu temple is the first of the Divya Desams in this region.
Shaivism & Vaishnavism as One:
This sthalam also tells us how the Vaishnavam and Saivam relationship should be treated. Virochana king worshipped Lord Shiva for the child, but it was the Vishnu Bhaktha who was born. So, it clearly tells that there should be no any fights (or) misunderstanding between the caste and all the Gods are said to be treated as a single one.
Sages & Kings relationship with this Temple:
Ramanujacharya and Manavaalamaamuni are said to have visited this shrine. Krishnadeva Raya, who contributed to the development of several Divya Desams, also helped in the renovation of this temple.