The Sri Sampradaya is one of four ancient Vaishnava lineages teaching bhakti-yoga. The name “Sri” refers to the Goddess Laxmi who is heralded as the founder of the lineage. The most prominent teachers of the Sri Sampradaya include Natha Muni, Yamuna Acharya and Ramanuja Acharya (all lived in the 9th and 10th centuries). Ramanuja, in particular, established the systematic philosophy of Vaishnavism. But all three were preceded by the ecstatic mystic poets called the Alvars (those immersed in God). The Alvars were twelve saints from South India who have left behind a great legacy of devotional poetry in praise of Lord Vishnu/Krishna.
The tenth of the Alvars was Kulasekhara Perumal (King Kulasekhara), ruler of the Cera dynasty of Malainadu, in what is now Kerala. In his Mukunda-mala-stotra (A Garland of Verses in Praise of Vishnu/Krishna) King Kulasekhara expresses his devotion through elegant Sanskrit verses. Today I’ ve highlighted three of the verses in which he conveys his faith in the names of Krishna or Vishnu as being medicinal for the soul.
In the first, text 15, Kulasekhara pleads with his audience to except the Lord’s names as chikitsam, (the medicinal treatment) for the bondage of samsara, citing yoga-jnah (experts in knowledge of mystic yoga) such as Yajnavalkya as authority.
In text 32 Kulasekhara pleads with his own mind to accept the aushadham (the herbal medicine) of the Lords names as the cure for bewilderment, and the inspiration for meditation.
Finally, in text 38, the King expresses his astonishment that people could reject the nectar of the Lords names in favor of the poison of speaking about everything else.
Below you will find the verses and translations as well as a link to a beautiful recitation of the Mukunda-mala-stotra along with more information on Kulasekhara Alvar and the stotra. Hearing the recitation will give you an idea of the elegance of the poetry and serves as a beautiful mediation as well.
he lokah srinuta prasuti-marana-vyadhes cikitsam imam
yoga-jnah samudaharanti munayo yam yajnavalkyadayah
antar-jyotir ameyam ekam amritam krishnakhyam apiyatam
tat pitam paramaushadham vitanute nirvanam atyantikam
O people, please hear of this treatment for the disease of birth and death! It is the name of Krishna. Recommended by Yajnavalkya and other expert yogis steeped in wisdom, this boundless, eternal inner light is the best medicine, for when drunk it bestows complete and final liberation. Just drink it!
daityendrarti-karaushadham tri-bhuvane sanjivanaikaushadham
sreyah-prapti-karaushadham piba manah sri-krishna-divyaushadham
O mind, please drink the transcendental medicine of Sri Krishna’s glories. It is the perfect medicine for curing the disease of bewilderment, for inspiring sages to engage their minds in meditation, and for tormenting the mighty Daitya demons. It alone is the medicine for restoring the three worlds to life and for bestowing unlimited blessings on the Supreme Lord’s devotees. Indeed, it is the only medicine that can destroy one’s fear of material existence and lead one to the attainment of the supreme good.
ascaryam etad dhi manushya-loke
sudham parityajya visham pibanti
tyaktvanya-vacah kuhakah pathanti
The greatest wonder in human society is this: People are so incorrigible that they reject the life-giving nectar of Lord Narayana’s names and instead drink poison by speaking everything else.
Translation by Gopiparanadhana dasa from Mukunda-mala-stotra, The prayers of King Kulasekhara, courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. Used with permission.