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Kulashekhara Alwar

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Title: Kulashekhara Alwar  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Alvars, Nammalvar, Rajashekhara Varman, Chera kingdom, South India's 75 Apostles of Bhakti
Collection: Alvars, Bhakti Movement, Chera Kingdom, Hindu Devotees, Medieval Kerala, Sri Vaishnava Religious Leaders
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Kulashekhara Alwar

Kulasekhara Azhwar
Born 3075 BCE[1][2]
Titles/honours Alvar saint
Philosophy Vaishnava Bhakti
Literary works Mukundamala, Perumal Tirumozhi
Also a king of Later Chera Kingdom

Kulashekhara Varman (Tamil:குலசேகர வர்மன்)also known as Kulashekhara Alvar(Tamil:குலசேகர ஆழ்வார்), or Kulashekhara Nayanar, was one of the Alwars According to traditional scriptures, Kuleshekara alwar incarnated on this earth in the 27th year after the beginning of the Kali Era (3102 BC) which puts the seer at 3075 BC.[3]

Kulasekhara is one of the twelve Tamil azhwar saints of South India, who are known for their affiliation to Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism. The verses of azhwars 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 azhwars. He authored Sanskrit lyric Mukundamala and Perumal Tirumozhi, which is 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.


  • Azhwars 1
  • Earlier life 2
  • As a King 3
  • As saint 4
  • Works and hymns 5
  • Travancore Royal Family 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Earlier life

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 BC) which puts the seer at 3075 BC.

As a King

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

As saint

He is revered as the 9th of the twelve alvars saints whose works contributed to the philosophical and theological ideas of Vaishnavism. Kulashekhara Varman is also one of the celebrated Vaishnavite Alvar poet saints of Bhakti movement in South India. The Bhakti movement consolidated the Vedic religion in the region by introducing it to common people.[10]

Works and hymns

He is the author of Mukundamala, 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). The Advaita philosopher Sankaracharya is a younger contemporary of Kulshekhara Alwar.[11] 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. His involvement in the legends of Krishna and Rama has produced some excquisite devotional poetry. In one song, he identifies himself with Devaki, the biological mother of Lord 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]

Travancore Royal Family

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 Royal Family still possesses the 'Cheramudi', Crown of Kulaskhara Alwar.


  1. ^ L. Annapoorna (2000). Music and temples, a ritualistic approach. p. 23.  
  2. ^ Sakkottai Krishnaswami Aiyangar (1911). Ancient India: Collected Essays on the Literary and Political History of Southern India. pp. 403–404.  
  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–.  
  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.  
  11. ^ Menon, Sreedhara A. (1967). Survey of Kerala History. Kottayam: D.C.Books. p. 152. 
  12. ^ V.K., Subramanian (2007). 101 Mystics of India. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications.  
  13. ^ Varadpande, Manohar Laxman (1982). Krishna Theatre In India. Abhinav Publications. p. 87.  


  • Ramanujan, Attipat Krishnaswami (2005). Hymns for the Drowning: Poems for Vishnu. Penguin Books.  
  • Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dallapiccola
  • Naalaayira divya prabhandham: Commentary by Dr. Jagadrakshakan (1997). Aazhvaargal Research Centre, Chennai 600017.
  • Sri Srirama Bharathi Araiyar 'Sacred Book'. 1995: Dhivya Prabhanda Pathasala, Jalladam Pattai - Chennai, India 601 302.
  • A. Srinivasa Raghavan, Nammalvar, (in "Makers of Indian Literature" Series), Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, India, 1975/1998.
  • Sujatha, (Tamil), (in Alvargal - Oor Eliya Arimugam), Visa Publications, Chennai, India, 2007.
  • B. S., Chandrababu; S., Ganeshram; C., Bhavani (2011). History of People and Their Environs. Bharathi Puthakalayam.  
  • Chari, S. M. Srinivasa (1997). Philosophy and Theistic Mysticism of the Āl̲vārs. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.  
  • Dalal, Roshen (2011). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books India.  
  • Das, Sisir Kumar; Sāhitya Akādemī (2005). A history of Indian literature, 500-1399: from courtly to the popular. chennai: Sāhitya Akādemī.  

External links

  • In the name of a devotee
  • Mukunda Mala Stotra (Prayers of King Kulashekhara)
  • Kulashekara's contribution to theatre
  • Serthi Sevai at Srirangam
  • " A New Perspective of Kerala History - Dr. Suvarna Nalapat"
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