King Kulasekhara

BY: SUN STAFF - 7.6 2023

King Kulasekhara at Mannarkovil near Ambasamadhram

King Kulasekhara, who is known as Kulasekhara Alwar, Kulasekhara Varman, or Kulasekhara Nayanar to the Srivaishnavas, was the first king of the late Chera Kingdom.

There was no trace of a Chera monarch for more than five centuries but surprisingly and suddenly, Kulasekhara Varman was made to appear on the scene, taking claim to his Chera lineage. Around 800 A.D. he ruled from Tiruvanchikkulam or Mahodayapuram. This marked the imposition of the Vaishnava cult in Kerala, and the ousting of the Buddhist power base there. During this period, the Keralites became linguistically distinct from the Tamils.

Sri Kulasekhara was born into the royal family of the kingdom of Travancore in the southern half of modern Kerala province. The rulers of that land did not own the kingdom, but were ministers to the land owner.

The worshipable Deity of Travancore was, and remains, Anantha-Padmanabha Swamy, who resides at Tiruvananthapuram. The kings of Travancore would come before Lord Anantha-Padmanabha twice a day top worship, after which the king would report on his daily administration.

The father of King Kulasekhara was Dridha-Vratha Maharaja, who had been childless. He and his queen performed great austerities and prayed to Lord Anantha-Padmanabha Swamy to bless him with a son. Not born directly to his father and mother, Kulasekhara is said to have appeared as a spark off Sri Kaustuba, Lord Krsna's gem. According to sastra, he incarnated on this Earth in the 27th year after the beginning of Kali era.

King Kulashekhara spent his later years at Brahmadesa Mannarkovil, where he served Lord Vishnu in His Rajagopala Swamy form. Before departing this world around the age of 67, he wrote the nectarean Sri Mukunda-mala-stotra, which we will present in our next edition.

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 8.2 Purport:

"At the time of death all the bodily functions are disrupted, and the mind is not in a proper condition. Thus disturbed by the bodily situation, one may not be able to remember the Supreme Lord. Mahārāja Kulaśekhara, a great devotee, prays, "My dear Lord, just now I am quite healthy, and it is better that I die immediately so that the swan of my mind can seek entrance at the stem of Your lotus feet." The metaphor is used because the swan, a bird of the water, takes pleasure in digging into the lotus flowers; its sporting proclivity is to enter the lotus flower. Mahārāja Kulaśekhara says to the Lord, "Now my mind is undisturbed, and I am quite healthy. If I die immediately, thinking of Your lotus feet, then I am sure that my performance of Your devotional service will become perfect. But if I have to wait for my natural death, then I do not know what will happen, because at that time the bodily functions will be disrupted, my throat will be choked up, and I do not know whether I shall be able to chant Your name. Better let me die immediately.'"