Chakra Perumal is the personified deification of Vishnu’s Sudarshana Chakra. Though Chakraperumal or ChakkrathAzhwar shrines (sannidhis) are found inside Vishnu’s temples, there are very few temples dedicated to Chakraperumal alone as the main deity (moolavar). The temple of Chakraperumal in Gingee on the banks of Varahanadi was one such temple. However, it is not a functioning temple currently. In present time, only 2 functioning temples with Chakraperumal as moolavar exist:
- Sri Sudarshana Bhagavan Temple, Nagamangala
- Chakrapani Temple, Kumbakonam – located on the banks of the Chakra bathing ghat of the Cauvery river. Here, the god is Chakrarajan and his consort is Vijayavalli.
The idols of Chakra Perumal are generally built in the Vijayanagar style. There are two forms of Sudarshana or Chakraperumal, one with 16 arms and another with 8 arms. The one with 16 arms is considered the god of destruction and is rarely found. The Chakraperumal shrine inside the Simhachalam Temple is home to the rare 16-armed form. The one with 8 arms is benevolent and is the form generally found in Vishnu’s temples in present time. Chakraperumal was deified an avatar of Vishnu himself, with the Ahirbudhnya Samhita identifying the Chakra-purusha with Vishnu himself, stating Chakrarupi svayam Harih.
The Simhachalam Temple follows the ritual of Baliharanna or purification ceremony. Sudarshana or Chakraperumal is the bali bera of Narasimha, where he stands with 16 arms holding emblems of Vishnu with a circular background halo. Beside his utsava bera are the chaturbhuja thayar (mother goddess), Andal and Lakshminarayana in the bhogamandir. In Baliharana, Chakra Perumal, the bali bera is taken to a yagnasala where a yagna is performed offering cooked rice with ghee while due murti mantras are chanted, along with the Vishnu Sukta and Purusha Sukta. Then he is taken on a palanquin around the temple with the remaining food offered to the guardian spirits of the temple.