Tuesday 18 December 2012

The King who became a Saint

He is perhaps handful of Indian Emperors to give up a royal life and take to a life of asceticism.
The first king to embrace religion and give up his throne is Chandragupta Maura, the grandfather of Ashoka. This Emperor built the mighty Maurya empire which was considered in the ancient ages to be among the most powerful kingdoms of the day.
He gave up his royal life and became a Jain mendicant. He spent his last days in Shravanabelogala in Karnataka.
There have been other kings and members of the royal family who have given up their opulent lifestyle to don saffron robes. One of the most prominent among them is Kulashekhara Varma also known as Kulashekhara Alvar or Ramarajasekharan who is regarded as the founder of the Later Chera dynasty of South India.
Kulashekara presided over the revival of the Chera power from 800 to 820 AD and made Mahodayapuram (present day Kodungallur) his capital.
A saintly king, he has written books in  Sanskrit and Tamil. He is considered to be one of the Hindu Alvars (Saint) and a prominent member of the Vaishnava movement in south India.
In 800AD, he succeeded his father Tidaviradhana as King of the Chera territory. He wrote Perumal Tirumozhi, a devotional work in Tamil and the Mukundamala in Sanskrit.
In Perumal Tirumozhi, he calls himself the ruler of Killi mountain (Salem), Kudal (Madurai), Kozhi (Uraiyur) and Kongu (Salem-Coimbatore).
His other Sanskrit works are Tapatisamvaranam, Subhadradhananjaya and Vichchinnabhiseka.
Kulasekhara married a Pandya princess. A great devotee of Vishnu, he presented his daughter as a Devadasi before Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam.
In 820 AD, he gave up his Kingship to become a Sanyasi. He then went to Sriranga and lived there. He is regarded as the 9th of the alvars (one of 12 mendicant saints venerated by South Indian Srivaishnavas).
His songs on Vishnu are called paasurams which form a vital part of  carnatic music. He was also part of the Bhakti movement in south India. He was a contemporary of Shankara Bhagawal Pada, an eminent Alwar.
He ruled over practically modern day Kerala and some districts of Andhra Pradesh. He was succeeded by his son, Rajashekara Verma.
He went on a pilgrimage to Thiruvarangam (Srirangam) in Cholanadu, and Thiruvenkatam (Thirupathi) in Thondainadu.
Unlike his religious belief, Rajashekara, his son, was an ardent Shaivite. Rajashekara was also known as Cheraman Perumal,

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