Kulashekara Alvar: King becomes a Bhakta

kulasekara azhwar

Who is Kulasekhara Azhwar?

Kulasekhara Azhwar is one of the 12 Azhwars, bhakti theologian, and devotional poet.

He is the incarnation of the Kausthubha Mani that adorns Sriman Naranaya’s chest, say many people.

He wrote “Perumal Tirumoli” in Tamil and “Mukundamala” in Sanskrit.

Vaishnavites describe him as the king of the Chera royal family of the western coast of Kerala.

Let us take a look at his early life.

Early Life of Kulashekar Alwar

In the Western Region of Kerala, a king named Thidaviradhan ruled the Chera Empire.

Thidaviradhan was very devoted to Sriman Narayana and used to respect devotees and donate to them many valuable things.

In the Prabhava year, Maasi month, Sukla Dvadesi, Friday in Punarpoosam Natchathiram (Star), a baby was born to the king.

The child was born to him as a result of Vishnu Bhakti the baby was bright and radiant.

The king was very happy and celebrated the birth of the baby for 10 days, after that the name of the baby was kept Kulasekharan.

He was mischievous and did all those things which every child does in its childhood.

But he never compromised with his studies.

He learned Sanskrit (the language of the gods) and various warfare skills such as Horse riding, elephant riding, sword fighting, etc. 

Kulasekharan becomes the Ruler of Chera Nadu

After attaining the proper age he ascended the throne and ruled Chera Nadu.

He ruled better than his father.

He also had a lot of respect for Vishnu bhaktas just like his father.

As time Passed he Became a hero in the eyes of the subjects.

But as people praise one at the same time many haters are also born.

Such is the nature of the material world.

Kulasekharan’s Marriage

Seeing the fame of Kulasekharan the Chozha kings and Pandiya kings became jealous.

So they planned to defeat him in a war.

But Kulasekharan with his mighty army won the war and extended his kingdom till Chozha Nadu.

Seeing the might of Kulasekharan the Pandiyan king, got his daughter married to Kulasekharan.

Everything went well for him.

Since then he led a very peaceful life with his wife.

Lord Vishnu inspires Kulasekharan

Kulasekara did not satisfy Lord Vishnu residing on Adishesha, as the Supreme Lord desired him to lead a spiritual life.

So, according to Sri Vishnu’s plan, an unusual day occurred in the life of the king.

Suddenly, one day, Kulasekharan started thinking about all the wars and losses he went through.

This slowly diverted his attention towards Sriman Narayana.

So he thought that he should spend his life directing the common folks to Sriman Narayana.

Kulasekharan turns to Sri Vishnu.

He started thinking that he should not have been born in a rich family, he should have been born as a fish near a pilgrimage pond.

He imagined himself as the mother of Sri Krishna and described the Lord’s childhood leelas (pastimes).

Even Periyalvar had Vatsalya Bhav for Sri Narayana.

After this, he started to make more donations to Vishnu bhaktas and called many old and learned philosophers to preach to him the puranic stories and the philosophy behind them.

Lord Rama attracts Kulasekharan

One day an old yogi narrated the story of Sri Rama.

As the yogi approached the scene where Sri Rama was at war with the 14 thousand demons, Kulasekharan became emotional.

At that moment, he ordered his army to get ready for a war.

The Ministers understood the event after hearing such an order.

The Yogi too understood that Kulasekharan was now getting emotional.

So, the wise Yogi narrated the part where Sri Rama single-handedly defeated the 14 thousand demons.

Now Sri Rama’s greatness completely mesmerized Kulasekharan and he ordered his army to come back.

Every day Kulasekharan listened to the kathas (stories of the Lord).

Kulasekharan’s Faith on Vishnu Bhaktas        

One fine day when Kulashekaran entered the temple.

He noticed that the ornaments adorning the deity were missing.

He fumed with anger as he realized that somebody stole the ornaments and so wanted to know as to who had committed this sin.

The ministers didn’t want the king to be supportive of the Vishnu Bhaktas.

Out of envy, they put the blame on the devotees.

But the king was quite sure that the devotees were innocent and to prove this he ordered a pot full of snakes and told his ministers that he was going to put his hands inside the pot.

He even said that if there is a fault with the devotees then the snakes will bite him; but if they are innocent then his hands will be fully safe.

And to everyone’s amazement, Kulasekharan could put his hands inside the pot and was successful in keeping it inside without any snake bite.

Kulasekharan becomes Kulasekhara Azhwar        

From that day the king resigned from the position of king and retired to Srirangam.

He served the deity for some years and later he got his daughter married to the Lord of Srirangam Temple.

At  Srirangam temple, there is a shrine in honor of Kulasekhara Azhwar’s daughter.

Furthermore, he gave away all his wealth as dowry.

Also, he visited many holy places such as Tiruvenkatam, Tiruvayodhya, Tillai-Chitrakutam, Tirukannapuram, Tirumalirunjolai and Tiruvitruvakkode.

At last, he settled in Brahmadesam which is near Tirukkurukur ( the birthplace of NammAzhwar).

Kulasekharan pleased  Lord Sri Rama.

As a result, the Lord blessed him with the title of Kulasekhara Perumal.

The great character of Sri Kulasekhara got him the title of Azhwar.

Kulasekharan became Kulasekhara Azhwar.

Periya Perumal is another name for  Sri Rama win the land where the Azhwar lived.

Mukundamala and Perumal Thirumozhi

Mukunda Mala is a beautiful devotional song, which describes Lord Vishnu as Lord Mukunda (Krishna).

It also describes the misery of a soul trapped in this world and cries out for Lord Krishna who is the means of salvation.

Kulasekhara Azhwar wrote the devotional song as mendicant, after renunciation.

His other famous contribution is Perumal Thirumozhi, he wrote this in full love for Sri Rama.

Kulasekhara Azhwar has contributed around 105 poems out of the 4000 hymns of all the 12 Azhwars.

His poems are a type of devotional and are dedicated to Sriman Narayana.

Kulasekhara Azhwar proceeds to Vaikuntha

In his last days, Kulasekhara Azhwar spent more time in Brahmadesam Mannarkoil and served the deity of Sri Rajagopala Swamy.

 Sri Rajagopala Swamy is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Sources say that he died at the age of 67 and since he died inside the temple, this temple is presently called Kulasekara Azhwar Koyil (temple).

He composed many devotional hymns as mentioned, and finally got the Paramapadham or entry into the Permanent Abode of Vaikuntha.

Thanks for reading!