The ninth of the twelve alwars, Kulasekhara Alwar, was a king of the Chera dynasty. Known as a philosopher king, he showed great interest in spirituality whilst still engaged in matters of state. His devotion took the form of poetry of which the Mukunda Mala in Sanskrit is the most famous work.
Several tales, possibly apocryphal, talk of his intense love for his Lord Ranganatha. Once when listening to a narration of the epic Ramayana at court, the king was so caught up with the story that in an emotional outburst, ordered his troops to prepare for the battle against Ravana! Only when the narrator brought the story to an end with Rama’s victory did the king heave a sigh of relief.
An earlier piece in the Deccan Herald, tells the tale of Kulashekhar Alwar and can be read here.
My first encounter with the work of Kulashekhar Alwar’s work was when I was working on a project on Saranagathi (or surrender). Kulashekhara Alwar composed the Perumal Tirumozhi – 105 verses or paasurams of exquisite devotional poetry, praising the deity at Vitthivakodu in Kerala. The CD that resulted from my project, featured 30 verses of the Perumal Tirumozhi. Here are four verses presented in the form of a ragamalika, from the CD Saranagathi.