Kulashekhara Alwar

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Kulashekhara Alwar
Kulasekhara Alwar.png
Religion Hinduism
Philosophy Vaishnava Bhakti
Born 800 CE[1][2]
Literary works Mukundamala, Perumal Tirumozhi (Tamil language)
Also a king of Later Chera Kingdom

Kulashekhara Alwar (also known as Kulashekhara Varman, Kulashekhara Alvar or Kulashekhara Nayanar) was one of the Alwars. According to traditional scriptures, he was born in the 27th year after the beginning of the Kali Era (3102 BCE), thus 3075 BCE.[3] He is also believed to have been a king of the Chera dynasty c. 800 CE.

Kulasekhara is one of the twelve Tamil alwar saints of South India, who are known for their affiliation to Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. The verses of the alwars are compiled as Nalayira Divya Prabandham and the 108 temples revered are classified as Divya desam. He is considered the seventh in the line of the twelve alwars. He authored the Sanskrit lyrics Mukundamala and Perumal Tirumozhi, which are compiled as a part of Nalayira Divya Prabandham. He is sometimes identified as Kulasekhara, the author of the Sanskrit works such as Tapatisamvaranam, Subhadradhananjaya and Vichchinnabhiseka.[4] The verses of Kulasekhara and other azhwars are recited as a part of daily prayers and during festive occasions in most Vishnu temples in South India.[citation needed]

Early life[edit]

Born in Periyar, Kerala,[5] he was son of Drdhavrata.[6] As per scriptural evidence, Kuleshekara Alwar incarnated on this earth in the 27th year after the beginning of the Kali Era (3102 BCE), thus 3075 BCE.

As a king[edit]

Kulashekhara is believed to have been a king from the Kerala region and he is regarded by some to have ruled Kolli (modern-day Uraiyur), Koodal (modern day Madurai) and Kongu.[7] The given date of his period is said to be 800–820 AD, as a king of the later Chera Dynasty. It is further suggested that he could not have flourished after the end of the 9th century,[8] and a king of Pallava dynasty (2nd century – 9th century) further claims to have defeated the Chera.[9]

As a saint[edit]

He is revered as the seventh of the twelve alvars, saints whose works contributed to the philosophical and theological ideas of Vaishnavism. He is also one of the celebrated Vaishnavite alvar poet-saints of the Bhakti movement in South India. The Bhakti movement consolidated the Vedic religion in the region by introducing it to common people.[10]

Kulashekhara Alwar was born in the month of Kumbham in the star Punartham (Punarvassu). he beived to be a reincarnation of Kousthubham (Blue Diamond on Lord Mahavishnu's chest ornament) in Malainadu - refering to present day kerala - accoding to Nalayira Divyaprabandham - the collection of holy hymns of Vaishnavites, composed by Alwars. The story goes that Lord Balaji of Thirupati appeared in his dreams and advised him that his life is not be squandered around in managing a country - but meant for higher spiritual purposes. He later on vacated his royal duties and became a saint. His devotion to Lord Balajiwas was very stromng and he made several visits. The threshold (Padi) in from front of the sanctum sanctorum is is known as 'Cheraman Padi'. Kulashekahara Alwar is alos associated with Srirangam. It is beleived that he gave his daughetr in marriage to Sreeranganathan.

Works and hymns[edit]

He is the author of Mukundamala,[11] a devotional lyric in Sanskrit. He contributed to one of the works in the Divya Prabhandham, namely Perumal Thirumozhi. These works consists of 105 poems out of the 4,000 hymns written by the Alvar poet-saints.[7] His poems are devotional in nature, being dedicated to the most prominent Avatars of Vishnu (Rama and Krishna).

A devotee of Rama, he considered the painful experiences of Rama to be his own. He is therefore also known as ‘Perum-al’, meaning "The Great’ – an epithet for the Lord. His devotion was so intense that he worshipped the devotees as forms of Vishnu. In one song, he identifies himself with Devaki, the biological mother of Krishna, from whom Krishna was taken away to Gokul where Nanda and Yasodha, the foster parents, looked after them. Kulasekara expresses Devaki's desolation at being separated from her child and for union with him. This is the same sense of sorrow of separation and yearning for union that pervades the outpourings of all the mystic poets of India.[12][13]

Mannarkovil Temple[edit]

Kulashekhara Alwar is thought to have died in Tamil Nadu at Mannarkovil, where there is a temple called Kulasekara Alwar Koyil. The mural inscriptions there informs that the temple was consecrated to his memory by Vasudevan of Mullappalli, Kerala (Malaimandalam).[14] The Sri Srinivasa Perumal Kulasekara Azhwar temple at the birthplace of Kulasekhara Alwar is at Thirukkulasearapuram, within the limits of Thiruvanjikulam, near Kodungallur in Thrissur district, Kerala.[citation needed]

Travancore royal family[edit]

The Maharajas of Travancore, custodians of the famous Padmanabhaswamy Temple, are descendants of Kulasekhara Alwar. One of the titles the Maharajas had was Kulasekhara Perumal and the family still possesses his 'Cheramudi' (crown).[citation needed]


  1. ^ L. Annapoorna (2000). Music and temples, a ritualistic approach. p. 23. ISBN 9788175740907. 
  2. ^ Sakkottai Krishnaswami Aiyangar (1911). Ancient India: Collected Essays on the Literary and Political History of Southern India. pp. 403–404. ISBN 9788120618503. 
  3. ^ M. Srinivasachariar (1974). History of Classical Sanskrit Literature: Being an Elaborate Account of All Branches of Classical Sanskrit Literature, with Full Epigraphical and Archaeological Notes and References, an Introduction Dealing with Language, Philology, and Chronology, and Index of Authors & Works. Motilal Banarsidass Publishe. pp. 278–. ISBN 978-81-208-0284-1. 
  4. ^ Menon, Sreedhara A. (1967). A Survey of Kerala History. D. C. Books Kottayam. 
  5. ^ "A History of Indian Literature, 500-1399: From Courtly to the Popular", p. 29, by Sisir Kumar Das
  6. ^ History of Classical Sanskrit Literature, p. 277, by M. Srinivasachariar
  7. ^ a b Dalal 2011, p. 214
  8. ^ "Mukundamālā", p. 16, by K. P. A. Menon
  9. ^ "A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century", by Upinder Singh, p. 55, ISBN 9788131716779
  10. ^ Lochtefeld, James (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 337. ISBN 9780823931798. 
  11. ^ Ishwarananda, Swami (2013). Mukunda Mala. Mumbai, India: Chinmaya Publications. p. 2. ISBN 9788175975699. 
  12. ^ V. K., Subramanian (2007). 101 Mystics of India. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications. ISBN 81-7017-471-6. 
  13. ^ Varadpande, Manohar Laxman (1982). Krishna Theatre In India. Abhinav Publications. p. 87. ISBN 9788170171515. 
  14. ^ The contribution of Kerala to Sanskrit Literature; K.Kunjunni Raja; University of Madras 1980; page 2


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