Mukundamālā of Kulaśekhara Āḻvār: A Translation

How to Cite

Aleksandar Uskokov. (2022). Mukundamālā of Kulaśekhara Āḻvār: A Translation: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 22(2), 207–224. Retrieved from


The “royal sage” among the Āḻvārs, Kulaśekhara, may have been a king from the Chera dynasty that ruled parts of Kerala from the 9th century on and whose leaders customarily bore the title “Kulaśekhara.” From Śrīvaiṣṇava hagiographies it appears that he abdicated the throne to become a devotee-ascetic living in Śrīraṅgam. He is unique among the Āḻvārs as being the only one to whom both Sanskrit and Tamil works are attributed. According to tradition, he wrote two works: the Perumāḷ Tirumoḻi, a composition of 105
verses written in “the divine Drāviḍa language” (Anantācārya’s Prapannamṛtam, 87.119), and the Sanskrit Mukundamālā. His name was serendipitously launched into international fame in 1996, when a British rock band consisting of followers of Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement and a fan of the Mukundamālā, took the name “Kula Shaker,” hit No.1 on the UK Albums Chart, and had a number of Top 10 hits on the UK Singles Chart.1 This introduction to the translation will be primarily about the hagiographical account of Kulaśekhara Āḻvār; my finding is that the story of Kulaśekhara as found in Anantācārya’s Prapannāmṛtam is coordinated with the themes dominant in the Mukundamālā. In the second part I will say a few things about the poem itself.

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