SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImadh varavaramunayE nama:
thiru attabuyagaram is the only sacred place in kAnchi which houses vaikuNta vAsal (gate way to the abode of vaikuNtam). It is here God displays Himself with eight arms.
On the right side, His four hands bear wheel (discuss), sword, flower and arrow. On the left side His four hands hold conch, bow, shield and staff. Even today, He stands here armed this way to grant protection to us.
He is called AdhikESavan, gajEndra varadhan and attabuyakaraththAn, reverentially and with love.
This locale has the name ashtabhujam since He dwells here. thirumangai AZhwAr’s “parakAlan panuval” helps us relish the tale of this noble city.
kaliyan had a great love for Almighty’s valour. This love made him lose (forget) his gender and feel as though he got transformed into a female. (According to scriptures all souls are only female, irrespective of their gender). He spoke like a woman assuming the name “parakAla nAyaki”.
AzhwAr with a feminine feel, experiences pangs of separation from Him. His verse describes this agony as shooting from his (her) mouth, as spoken by mother and also by “her” friend.
His song in praise of the holy place, thiruvidavendhai refers to the following anecdote. Mother on seeing the daughter’s (parakAla nAyaki’s) suffering appeals to God- “My daughter is tormented due to separation from you. Oh Lord of idavendhai! What do you propose to do? What goes in your mind? On these lines goes that thirumozhi.
God made Himself visible to AzhwAr who had transformed into a woman (according to his mind). God showed Himself as a pleasing figure with eight hands, a treat to the eyes. He did this to console AzhwAr filled with agony.
parakAla nAyaki saw Him, wondered “Such a lovely person! Desiring to know who the person was, he deliberately avoided quizzing Him directly and asked one by the side ‘Who is this gorgeously elegant person standing over there?’. The Divine Being of the locale voluntarily came forward with the answer ‘I reside in attabuyagaram’ “.
He could have aptly replied “I am ashtabhujan (the one with eight shoulders)”. It would have revealed that He was God, the Almighty. He didn’t seem to like that/ Nor did He desire to falsely portray Himself as some different person. So, He astutely replied “I am resident of ashtabhuja kshEthra” We infer. That is why in each verse of this work, we come across the words “ivarArkol enna attabuyagaraththEn enrAre” – when enquired who He was, He responded – resident of attabuyagaram.
In his ashtabhujAshtakam, vEdhAnta dESikan too addressed this lord as “ashtabujAspadhESa” (God who resides in ashtabhuja dhESam).
From these we come to know that this divine venue bears the name ashtabhuja.
This Lord had made everyone, from brahmA to parakAla nAyaki, His devout followers.
Such is His charitable nature. He deems it is His good fortune to grant protection to His devotees.
brahmA started meditating on His compassionate care. “Oh my Lord! You have famously acquired the honorific “gajEndhra varadhan” because you have sheltered and protected the one sporting a trunk on the face (gajEndhra, the elephant)”.
What an enchanting narrative!
Fate turned a king into an elephant. As a king he had not skipped his prayers even on a single day. By divine grace, even after turning into an elephant, he continued to offer flowers and worship God. The true nature of his real self not erased from memory.
One day the elephant entered a pond to fetch lotus flowers. A big crocodile present there at the moment caught hold of a leg of the elephant.
The shocked elephant tried hard to free itself from the grip, but did not succeed. Female elephants present there also put their mite along, but still success eluded.
This struggle, battle went for a thousand dhEva varushas (1000 years on dhEvas’ calendar). After this long it darned on the elephant that it was not capable of saving itself; his efforts were futile. He sought divine intervention and appealed “Oh manivaNNA! You who have serpent as your bed. Please emerge. Exterminate this grievous hassle of mine. AdhimUlamE! AdhikESavA!! – cried out the elephant loudly.
All others deities drew back saying “Not me! Not me!” (I am not AdhimUlam – the original creator).
Only this God came rushing killed the crocodile and saved the elephant.
Elephant thanked the saviour profusely. God of eight shoulders blew air from His mouth on His upper cloth worn on the chest and with this stroked and caressed the wounds.
Elephant could not control tears of joy. It said “O AdhikESavA! Shall I sing the praises of you? Shall I pour accolades on your benevolence and love! Or shall I shower tributes to the speed with which you arrived to rescue me.
parASara Bhattar says “bhagavathasthvarAyai namaha:” He thus salutes the swiftness with which He rushed to save His devotee, the elephant.
“Oh Almighty! You know why you are addressed anAdhi”?
Other deities though they indulge in praising you now and then consider themselves as supreme and turn immodest and vain and talk rubbish.
Oh you shower of grace and mercy!! You are glorified by the three eyed Siva, brahmA , indhra and dhEvas. To these dhEvas you deliver only trivial rewards. But you offer yourself to those like us who hold you as everything. You have gifted yourself to me. That is why you are anAdhi.
Sri parASara bhattar’s measured opinion is that this anecdote of God saving the elephant (Anai kAththa kaNNan) is detailed in the verses 912 to 945 of vishNu sahasranAmam.
It is said (with great conviction) that we will be freed from any adverse outcome due to evil dreams, if we meditate on ashtabhuja perumAL who is also called gajEndhra rakshakan (Protection and refuge) – as we wake up in the morning. sahasranAmam also concurs: “udhdhAranO dushkruthihA punyO dhusswapna nASana:”.
Widely known by His popular names AdhikESavan and gajEndhra varadhan, Good till date presents Himself as ashtabhuja perumAL to safeguard and escort us.
brahmA went on with vELvi.
Vanquished kALi, with her head hung low, went to saraswathi.
saraswathi got ready for the next onslaught.
As saraswathi reflects on Her next move, we too would wait for the next part.
adiyen thOthAdri thirumalai rAmAnuja dAsan