The charm and beauty of Kulasekhara azhwar's poetry

                                       Kulasekhara Azhwar
Kulasekhara Azhwar
Birth Place - Thiruvanjikkalam
Year/Month/Star - Paraabhava/Maasi/Punarpoosam
Amsam - Kaustubham

Azhwar means one who is ‘immersed’ in the experience of God. They deeply immersed themselves in their bhakti towards the Lord Narayana. All the Azhwars are considered to be the various adornments of Lord Vishnu and therefore they are called 'Divyam' (God--given) and their works are called 'Divya Prabandham'.Twelve azhwars in all have sung in praise of Lord Narayana. Their works which come to nearly 4ooo verses have been compiled together in Naalayira Divya Prabandam. These azhwars came from different parts of South India.They were also of varied professions,of varied periods and varied community.

Of the 12 azhwars Kulasekhara was of royal blood and he was ruling Chera Nadu the western part of south India. His capital was VANCHIKALAM a place near Karur.He was proficient in Tamil, Sanskrit and Malayalam. The famous work on Lord Krishna, Mukunda Maalai , is in his name.

His deep love for Lord Rama was something phenomenal. While all other azhwars have sung in praise of the childhood of baby Krishna, Kulasekhara alone has sung in praise of child Rama, while worshipping Sowriraja Perumal at Thirukkannapuram near Nagappattinam in Thanjavur Dt.[This is one of the 108 divya desams which are sacred to Vaishnavites}. In this temple he was reminded of the childhood of Lord Rama and sang a lullaby for baby Rama.[Perumal Thirumozhi 8th chapter verse 1]

Mannu pugazh Kausalaithan
Manivayiru vaythavane
Thennilangaik kon mudigal
Sindduvithay semponser
Kanni nan mamadil pudai soozh
Ganapurathen karumaniye
Enudaiya innamudeh
Raghavane thalelo

He calls Raghava, innamudhu [sweet nectar] and praises the blessed womb of Kausalya ,Rama's mother that gave birth to Rama.In 11 verses of this lullaby he gives a short account of the story of Ramayana.My father was very fond of this song and while rocking the 'thooli' (a cloth cradle), for all his children he used to sing this song in his slow husky voice! All these 11 verses are known for their melody and simplicity. They are therefore popular with musicians and dancers.

Kulasekhara is also remembered for his analogies and similes.Like all vaishnavites, he also believed in total surrender to God [saranagathi]. In a few beautiful verses, he implores to God to give him salvation as in the instances listed by him.

In the first comparison, he likens himself to a child before an angry mother. Even if the mother chides and pushes it away out of anger, the child is left with no other alternative except to cry and go back to her and encircle the mother's legs craving for attention! "So my Lord, even if you show indifferece to me, I will only go back to you seeking your favour" so says Kulasekhara.{Perumal Thirumozhi-chapter 5--stanza 1}

In the second analogy, he likens his fate to that of a patient awaiting his operation before a surgeon. The patient very well knows that the doctor is going to chop his wound with a knife, but still the patient likes the doctor! "Similarly I know very well that you are out to subject me to some harsh treatment, but still I love You my Lord" so says Kulasekhara..{Perumal Thirumozhi --chapter 5 ----stanza 4}

The third example likens him to a bird which is caught in a sailig ship. The bird can fly only a short distance, and however much it may fly it doesn't find the land. It gets back to the ship, having no other recourse. Kulasekhara, likewise has only the feet of Lord to which he can surrender!

In the fourth example, he points out to the lotus that will blossom only to the rays of the sun. If a fire is induced near the flower to the same temperature it withers away. {Perumal Thirumozhi -stanza 6}

There are similar verses, each one rivalling the other in its splendour. The Azhwars had such a comprehensive knowledge of the worldly affairs, such a deep Bhakti and wrote such beautiful Tamil that it is really a pleasure to delve deep into them and marvel at their splendour.

June 2007

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