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Early mention in Sangam literature
Tamil Sangam literature (200BCE to 500CE) mentions mAyOn, or the dark one, as the supreme deity who creates, sustains and destroys the universe. Paripadal 3 describes the glory of Thirumal in the most superlative terms.
Paripadal(3)by kaduvan iLaveyinanAr:
"thIyinuL theRal nI poovinuL naaRRa nI kallinuL maNiyu nI sollinuL vaaymai aRaththinuL anbu nI maRaththinuL mainthu nI vEthaththu maRai nI boothaththu madhalu nI vencudar oLiyu nI thingaLuL aLiyu nI anaiththu nI anaiththinut poruLu nI"
The last line states that Thirumal (Lord Vishnu) is supreme deity who is the inner controller (Antaryamin) of entire universe. This poem glorifies God Thirumal who is first mentioned in Vedas and later propounded by Alwars in Prabhandams and Sri Vaishnavaite Acharyas in various commentaries.
Popularity in Tamil Nadu
Thirumal/Perumal is the only deity who has enjoyed the status of Paramporul during Sangam (Third) age. And a reference to "Mukkol Bhagavars" in Sangam literature clearly indicates that only Vaishnavaite saints holding Tridanda were prominent during Sangam age and Thirumal was glorified as the Supreme Deity whose divine lotus feet can burn all evils and grant Moksha (Maru Piraparukkum Maasil Sevadi). During post-Sangam period, his worship was further glorified by Alwars and great Vaishnavite acharyas.
Prominent among these Divyadesams are
- Sri Navamukundan Temple in Thirunavaya, India
- Sri Ananthapadmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, India
- Sri Varadaraja perumal temple in Kanchipuram, India
- Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in SriRangam, India
- Thirumaliruncholai (Kallazhagar temple) in Madurai, India
- Thiruvengadam (Sri Balaji Temple), in Tirupathi, India
- Thiru Narayanapuram (Selva pillai) in Melkote, India
- Aadhi Thiruvellarai (Pundarikatchan) in Thiruvellarai, India.
Prominent Thirumal Temples (though not mentioned by Alwars) in other parts of the world are
- Perumal temple in Jaffna, Sri Lanka
- Sri Venkateswara perumal temple in USA
- Sri Sunderaraja Perumal Temple Klang, Malaysia
- Sri Alarmelamanga Samedha Shri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, Batucaves, Malaysia