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Date: Mon Feb 26 1996 - 09:14:45 PST

March 1, 1996 is the Tirunakshatram of Raja Rishi Kulashekara Azhwar. 
The following is a brief note about the Azhwar and his contributions. 
Sri Jaganath posted an excellent article on the Pasurams of this Azhwar a 
few days ago. 

Kumbhe Punarvasubhavam Kerale Chola Pattane
Kaustubhamsham DharaDheesam Kulashekaramashraye.

I take refuge in king Kulashekara of Kerala, who was born (at Tiruvanjikkolam)
in the month of Magha (Feb-March) under the asterism of Punarvasu as an 
incarnation of the Kaustubha gem of Lord Narayana. 

Kushyate Yasya Nagare Ranga Yatra Dhine Dhine
TAmaham Shirasam Vande RajanAm Kulashekaram.

Kulashekara Azhwar wished for 
pilgrimage to Srirangam everyday so that he could be by the side of 
his Abhimana Daivam (Lord Sri Rama). In accordance with his wishes,
his disciples built him a hermitage very close to the Ranganatha Temple. 
This great man composed the Mukunda Mala. The language of his Bhakti was
very simple. This can be seen from the following verse:

Namami Narayana Pada Pankajam Karomi Narayana Pujanam Sada
Vadami Narayana Nama Nirmalam Smarami Narayana Tattvamavyayam.

Salutations to the lotus feet of Lord Narayana in whose prayers forever I am 
engaged, whose sweet name I constantly take and whose thoughts is the 
"Tattvam" (for me).

Elsewhere, the Azhwar says:

Meyyil Vazhkaii meyyanakollum Ivvaim
Thannodum Kooduvathilai nan Iyene
ARANGA yenru Azhaikkindren...   

In Perumal Thirumozhi the Azhwar declares that he does not seek the
company of those who think that this earthly life is real, but he cries
for the Lord Sri Ranganatha. The Dwajasthambam ( interior ) in
Srirangam Temple is called ANI ARANGATHU THIRU MUTTRAM following the
declaration of Kulasekhara Azhwar and the Gold-plated steps leading
from this Muttram to the inside is called Kulasekharan Padi. The IDEEHAM
is that The Azhwar lives in these steps and traditional people do not
dare to put their feet on these steps - instead they jump over it contrary
to the wishes of Azhwar. The Azhwar wished that devotees step over 
this Padi so that he is sanctified by the dust of the Bhagavata's feet.

The Azhwar has also composed a number of Paasurams in praise of 
Lord Srinivasa during his sojourn to Tirupati. Sri Jaganath has provided
a very eloquent summary of the the Azhwar's Paasuram in his article. Of 
particular note is the Paasuram where the Azhwar wishes he was a fish in 
the sacred Pushkarani at Tirupati. The thoughts of the Azhwar while 
composing this Paasuram are indicative of Lakshmana's statement to Lord 
Sri Rama "I shall be like a fish out of water without you" while requesting 
that he be allowed to accompany the Lord to the forest. This must be 
seen in the context of Lord Rama being the Abhimana Daivam of the Azhwar. 
Consequently, the Azhwar does not like any thought of separation from the 
Lord. In conclusion, I must say that Sri Vaishnava Sampradayam has been 
greatly enriched by the contributions of Raja Rishi Kulashekara Azhwar.

I hope this serves as input for more reflections about the Azhwar and his 
works. Sri Sadagopan informed me in a private note that he may be able to 
post a copy of his commentary on the Mukunda Mala. I look forward to reading 
his post and enjoying the Azhwar's Vaibhavam. I also request Sri Dileepan to 
post his informative article (as usual) about the Azhwar on the occassion of
the Azhwar's Tirunakshatram (as is his practice).

Azhwar Tiruvadigale Sharanam,

Sri Ramachandra Swami Parabrahmane Namaha.

Muralidhar Rangaswamy