Kulasekhara Azhvar, one of the twelve Vaishnavite Azhvars, was king of the Chera kingdom. He was anxious to learn the Ramayana and appointed a teacher to teach him the epic. Such was Kulasekhara Azhvar’s bhakti that tears rolled down his cheeks as he listened to Rama’s travails. And yet none could gauge the extent of Azhvar’s bhakti. To Kulasekhara Azhvar, it was almost as if the whole story was being enacted before his eyes, said Akkarakkani Srinidhi in a discourse.

He could feel that way because of his Rama bhakti. When the teacher got to the point where Rama had to fight 14,000 demons, headed by Khara, Kulasekhara Azhvar got up and said: “Get the army ready. I have to go to Rama and help Him.” He was finally pacified and was told that Rama had won the battle against the demons. Only then did he cease to be agitated.

Azhvar was told that Rama had won the battle, and that Vaidehi was pleased as a result of this. But why did Valmiki use the word ‘Vaidehi,’ when until then the word ‘Sita’ had been used? Commentator Peria Vachan Pillai observed that there was reason for this. When Rama had been banished by Kaikeyi, He had asked Sita to stay behind in Ayodhya. But She had asked Him if He could not protect Her. What would Her father, the King of Videha, think of his son-in-law, if he was not sure He could protect His wife, She had asked. Now that Rama had saved Her, naturally the word Vaidehi is used to show that the King of Videha need have no doubts about his son-in-law’s courage, for He had saved Sita from the clutches of the demons.

Kulasekhara Azhvar’s association with Sri Vaishnavas was seen as responsible for his behaviour. So attempts were made to spoil the reputation of the Sri Vaishnavas. But it was discovered by Kulasekhara Azhvar that they were blameless. Kulasekhara Azhvar then decided to renounce worldly life. All he wanted was to spend his time in worshipping the Lord. It is never easy for a person with power and riches to throw away everything in order to worship God. Kulasekhara Azhvar renounced everything, proving to the world his greatness.