Kulasekhara. The Alwars, as you have read, were the poet saints of Tamil Nadu who lived thousands of years ago.
The Alwars, as you have read, were the poet saints of Tamil Nadu who lived thousands of years ago.
They were devoted to God Vishnu and were wise seers whose poems even today wield a great influence on religious minds. These Alwars came from different walks of life and from different parts of Tamil Nadu.Nammalvar was a non-Brahmin, Tirumangai was a robber, Periyalwar a Brahmin and Kulasekhara was a prince. One of them, Andal was a woman.
Their common bond was the love of Vishnu. These Alwars were 12 in number. Kulasekhara, according to legends, lived about 5000 years ago. Kulasekhara was the ruler of Travancore. He was born of the lunar race. His father’s name was Dridvrata. Legends say that God Vishnu sent his weapons like the holy Conch, Discus and close attendants like Garuda to the world to be born as Alwars, for the purpose of teaching love towards god to men. Kulasekhara was Vishnu’s Kaustubha, an ornament He wore on His chest, being born as an Alwar. Kulasekhara was born on a Friday with Purnarvasu as his nakshatra.
King Kulasekhara ruled his country justly; he was a terror to his foes. He had a huge army and it consisted of the four army divisions—chariots, elephants, horses and the infantry.
After a long spell of just rule, Kulasekhara turned more and more towards god. He gradually withdrew from family and public life. He undertook a pilgrimage to Srirangam and Tirupati where he longed to see and worship Lord Ranganatha and Lord Venkatesa respectively.
His heart cried out: "When shall I have the joy of witnessing the splendor of the Lord at Srirangam? When will the day arrive when I can see the Lord and enjoy him? When will the day arrive when I shall place my crowned head at His feet?"
Kulasekhara knew both Sanskrit and Tamil. He wrote a moving poem on Vishnu in Sanskrit called "Mukundamala" or Garland for Mukunda. In that poem he says, "God is the Garuda for the serpents called calamities! The Name of God is the mantra for destroying enemies. God is the medicine for curing the disease called family life."
One day Kulasekhara was listening to a Ramayana recital. In the course of it there came the passage where Valmiki says: "Fourteen thousand rakshasas were ranged against Rama and how would Rama fight them alone?"
On hearing this verse, Kulasekhara panicked about Rama’s safety that he ordered his entire army with himself at its head to proceed to defend Rama. He was so absorbed in Rama that he forgot he was only listening to a story!
Kulasekhara’s ministers who knew his love towards God came near him and gently said: "Your Majesty! Rama has already destroyed all the rakshasas single-handed!"
Hearing it Kulasekhara heaved a sigh of relief and said: "Ah, my Rama!" and shed tears of joy and returned to his capital. Kulasekhara’s love towards God increased day by day and his ministers were worried. Finally they concluded: "These Vaishnavas are spoiling our King. If we banish them from the palace, the king would become all right."
They devised a plan to get rid of them.
There was a small temple in the palace in which Kulasekhara worshipped the idols of Vishnu in the forms of Rama, Krishna and others. Being a king, he had decorated those idols with expensive jewels set with diamonds, pearls, sapphires, rubies and other precious gems.
One day the ministers of the palace removed a precious jewel from one of the idols and reported to the king: "Sir, one of the Vaishnava sadhus has stolen a necklace belonging to the temple deities. You must not keep them in the palace any more. Please punish them and send them away!" `King Kulasekhara couldn’t believe it.
He said: "The sadhus will never steal the necklace from the Lord; I shall stake my life."
Saying so, he asked them to bring a deadly cobra in a pot.
When they brought it, he said: "lf my friends didn’t steal the Lord’s necklace, this cobra will not harm me. If otherwise I am willing to die from its bite."
And the king introduced his hand into the pot.
The cobra did not harm him, and the king leapt with joy saying: "My lord has vindicated His devotees!"
The ministers who saw it all felt ashamed and fell at the king’s feet.They admitted their guilt and explained why they did so. The king excused them all.
Soon Kulasekhara found the life of a king incompatible with the life of a God-man.
He wanted to live solely in the company of God-lovers.
So, he handed over the governance of his state to his son, became an ascetic and consecrated his life to the service of the Divine.
After renouncing his kingdom, Kulasekhara went to Srirangam and spent his life in the worship of Sri Ranganatha.
He penned his experience of his joy in Tamil in his famous book of poems ‘Perumal Tirumozhi’ which inspires God-love.
Thousands of homes recite them today and innumerable people are benefited by its power.
He says in a verse: To me the worldly people are mad, And they think I am mad, No one is benefited by this talk O God, I call you' Krishna, Ranganatha.
Mad as I am with loving for you!