Ashtabujakaram (Sri Aadhikesava Perumal Temple), Kanchipuram - Legends
Story behind Ashtabhuja Perumal:
As per Hindu legend, once there was an argument between Saraswathi, the consort of Brahma and Lakshmi on superiority. They went to Indra, the king of celestial deities. Indra judged Lakshmi as superior and not satisfied with his argument, Saraswathi went to her husband, Brahma. He also chose Lakshmi to be the superior one. Saraswathi was unhappy with the decision and decided to stay away from Brahma.
Brahma did a severe penance praying to Vishnu and did an Aswamedha Yagna. Saraswathi was still angry that the yagna, which usually is done along with consorts, was done alone by Brahma. She tried to disrupt the penance in various ways, but Vishnu interfered in all her attempts. After all the demons were killed by Vishnu, who were sent by Saraswati to destroy the yagna (penance) done by Brahma, she finally sent a ferocious Sarpam (snake).
Lord Vishnu took the form of Ashtabhuja Perumal holding 8 different weapons to kill the snake. The snake is found on the Vayu end of the yaaga sala as "Sarabeswaran" in this temple.
Another legend associates this temple to Gajendra moksham given by Vishnu to the elephant king Gajendra. Yogi Mahasandan decided to renounce his life in this earthly world and to reach the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu. He plunged into penance for the purpose. Mahasandhan had such powers equal to Indira the king of Devas. Indira was shocked by the penance of Mahasandan and sent alluring beautiful women of his world to entice Mahasandhan to spoil his penance. They could not move the yogi.
Finally, Indira came in the guise of male elephant and succeeded in his design. The yogi enticed by the beauty of the elephant, took the form of an elephant himself and wandered in the forest till he reached Salagramam for a bath. The yogi elephant was able to recollect his penance and the defeat he suffered then. It began visiting the Divya Desas, worshipped Perumal and sought a remedy for the folly it committed.
Sage Mrikandu advised the elephant to go to Kanchi and worship Lord Varadaraja Perumal to realize its wish. It so happened that the elephant came to Lord Ashtabhuja Perumal temple and began worshipping him 14,000 flowers each day. As it could not get sufficient flowers one day, it began plucking flowers from a nearby tank and was caught by a crocodile. As Gajendra did in the past, this elephant cried ‘Aadhi Moolame’ for protection. Lord, as he saved Gajendra in the past, appeared before the yogi elephant on his Garuda, cut the crocodile with his discus and granted salvation to the yogi elephant.