• By K.R.K. Murthy
  • August 7, 2023
  • Know about who composed Mukunda Mala Strotram and its devotional appeal.

Emotionally, a prayer is the acknowledgement of the presence of a sacred Being in our mind, which we call God. It may be in the form of adoration, praise, petition, surrender to Him, or a form of confession or an expression of gratitude. A prayer may be highly devotional in the form of mantras or verses. ‘Mukunda mala’ is a classic example of a devotional prayer. 


Mukunda Mala is a garland of hymns composed in praise of Lord Vishnu/Lord Krishna by the great Azhwar saint King Kulasekhara Perumal. He belonged to the Chera dynasty who ruled over a kingdom at Kodungaloor, near Thrissur in Kerala. He lived in the 9th century AD. According to a legend, once while sleeping he had a brilliant vision of Lord Krishna. Even after awakening he fell into a trance and the palace staff had to enter his room to break his trance. The king then told his people that he wanted to dedicate his life in the service of the Lord. A few years later he abdicated his throne and went to Sri Rangam, to spend his time meditating in the company of the Lord’s devotees. He used to lay on the steps of the temple through which the devotees had walked, to get a feel of the dust from their feet. 


This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal.


At Sri Rangam, he composed Mukunda Mala Strotrams. Though it is composed in Sanskrit, it expresses in simple words his devotion to Krishna and his desire to share this good fortune with others. He opens his heart to the Lord and expresses his feelings in the verses, which any reader can appreciate. He experiences ecstasy while chanting the name of God because of his profound love for the Lord. His other work, 108 hymns in Tamil, was later incorporated in the Tamil holy book, Thiruvaimozhi (Sacred Sayings), under the title, Perumal Thirumozhi. The king had such humility that he wanted to be born as a bird, animal, fish or flower, wherever Lord Krishna is.


The devotional appeal of the verses in Mukunda Mala has made it an important contribution to the Bhakti Movement in India. The divine experience that inspired the King to compose this great work will strike the heart of those who chant these verses with sincere devotion. The selfless and unconditional love that poured out of the King’s heart, with God alone as his goal as expressed in these verses, will help us tide over the worst situations in life. The devotee will find solace as they forget this material world while chanting. The devotee will demonstrate dispassion, austerity, and power of endurance and stay dauntless in the midst of difficulties. They will get strength to resist temptations and achieve self realisation in spite of innumerable problems. 


Both physical ailments and mental conditions affect us. The repentant thoughts of the past and the anxieties of the future occupy our time and attention. It is the right time to start our prayers to Lord Krishna so that we develop a dispassion for the material objects. The devotee is urged to take away the burden of worries and anxieties and take refuge in the all-powerful and merciful Lord, who is the remover of all pains—physical and mental. Bhakti is the ship that comes to our rescue to cross the ocean of Samsara. The Lord, as the Captain of the ship, takes us across when we have faith in Him. The real enemy is within us, in the form of ego, envy, lust and anger. With our mind fixed on the lotus feet of the Lord, we can overcome them.


All our senses have to be used properly to achieve our goal of crossing the ocean. We have the delusion that we are the body, when we are actually the spirit. We take the name and form as reality. To get over this misconception, we have to look at the divine form and chant the divine name. The repetition of the divine name removes all disturbing thoughts, and the mind becomes calm. This should be accompanied by service, humility and unconditional surrender to the Lord. We must concentrate on the divine form through Sadhana which is possible only by the grace of God. The devotee is cured of the delusion when they take the Lord’s name incessantly, and see the divine in the form of the Lord. 


The various names of Lord Krishna which are chanted, glorify particular deed or attribute of the Lord. A devotee remembers Him by his glorification. The devotee affirms: “Other than You, there is no one else.” By chanting the mantra of Sri Krishna, one achieves what is good, and is able to get over one’s attachments or passions, human bondage and is able to attain the fruition of life. The saint says praising the Lord’s name is the panacea for all types of ailments. Everything that we do if dedicated to God automatically gets a value and reaps benefits. One becomes a humble servant of God (Dasa Bhava), freed from his desires and at the same time becomes emperor of the spiritual world. The ultimate reward of chanting the Lord’s name is immortality that is recognition of our divine (Ultimate Reality) nature. Lord Krishna is the Ultimate Reality. 


In today’s world torn by wars and squabbles, chanting the glories of the Supreme is the only way to bring peace and prosperity to humanity.


This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal, 31 July 2023 issue. This article is courtesy and copyright Bhavan’s Journal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai-400007. eSamskriti has obtained permission from Bhavan’s Journal to share. Do subscribe to the Bhavan’s Journal – it is very good.

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