Rama Rajasekhara

Rama Rajasekhara (fl. 870/71 – c. 883/84 AD[2]) was a Chera Perumal ruler of medieval Kerala, south India.[3][4][5] Rajasekhara is usually identified by historians with Cheraman Perumal Nayanar, the venerated Shaiva (Nayanar) poet-musician of the Bhakti tradition.[5][3][1]

Rama Rajasekhara
Sri Raja Rajadhiraja
Parameswara Bhattaraka
"Rajashekhara" Deva
Peruman Adigal
Depiction of "Cherman Perumal" Nayanar (Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur) (cropped).jpg
Depiction of "Cherman Perumal" Nayanar (who is generally identified with Rajasekhara) in Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Ruler of Chera Perumal Kingdom[1]
Reign870/71–c. 883/84 AD
PredecessorSthanu Ravi Kulasekhara
Rama Rajashekhara[1]
Regnal name
HouseChera Perumals of Makotai
ReligionHinduism (Shaiva)
GranthaRama Rajasekhara's signature

Rajasekhara presumably succeeded Sthanu Ravi Kulasekhara around 870 AD.[2][6] "Tripuradahana" and "Saurikathodaya", Yamaka poems by Vasubhatta, were composed under the patronage of Rajasekhara.[7] Two temple records, from Kurumattur, Areacode and Thiruvatruvay, Vazhappally, mention king Rajasekhara.[2] The former contain the only available "prasasti" of a Chera Perumal ruler of Kerala.[8][2]

Rama Rajasehara probably abdicated the throne toward the end of his reign and became a Shaiva nayanar known as Cheraman Perumal Nayanar.[2] He was succeeded by Vijayaraga (fl. c. 883/84-c.895 AD).[2]


  • Shankaravijaya of Vidyaranya mentions one Kerala king "Rajasekhara" (who was a contemporary of Hindu philosopher Shankara).[7]
  • Shivanandalahari, attributed to Hindu philosopher Shankara, indirectly mentions the Chera ruler as "Rajasekhara".[9]

Rama DevaEdit

Laghu Bhaskariya Vyakhya, a mathematical commentary composed in the court of king Ravi Kulasekhara in 869/70 AD, mentions a Chera Perumal royal called Rama Deva, who marched out to fight the enemies on getting information from the spies.[11] A possibility identifies Rama Deva with Rama Rajasekhara.[12] Rama Deva is described as a member of the Solar Dynasty ("ravi-kula-pati") in Chapter IIII, Laghu Bhaskariya Vyakhya.[11]

Patron of VasubhattaEdit

Vasubhatta, the famous Yamaka poet of medieval Kerala, names his patron king as "Rama" in his Tripuradahana and Saurikathodaya.[7]

Tripuradahana refers to Rama Rajasekhara as follows:[7]

There ruled a king who was bowed to by poets, the sight of whose army scattered his enemy kings, who was as steady in punishing the wicked as ready in succouring the righteous, whose conduct was above calumny, who was extolled as the foremost of kings (rajasekhara = Siva) in being wealthy (bhutidhara = a smearer of ashes) in having proboscis-like arms (vyala-pati-sphurat-karam = serpent entwined arms) and in bestowing wealth upon the supplicants at his feet, who was considered as an incarnation of Rama himself in the sameness of his name, with the hero of the Ramayana and in (the identity of purpose) raksopayam (protection of his subjects: danger to Raksasas). In the reign of this king who was pleasing the eyes of his subjects...

Another poem by Vasubhatta, the Yudhisthiravijaya, says that "Kulasekhara" was the regnal title of his patron king.[13] A later commentary on the poem Yudhisthiravijaya argues that "Rama" was the personal name of the king with regnal title "Kulasekhara".[7] Modern scholars generally consider this a result of confusion on the part of the commentators (between Sthanu Ravi Kulasekhara and Rama Rajasekhara) who were separated in time from the Perumals.[13]

Some scholars also identify king Rama Kulasekhara as the patron of poet Vasubhatta (and thus placing Vasubhatta in 11th-12 centuries AD).[14] This view is generally found unacceptable on several counts.[15]

Epigraphic recordsEdit

Date Regnal Year Language and Script Location Contents
Nature Notes
871 AD[2] N/A Grantha/Southern Pallava Grantha (Sanskrit)[8] Temple inscription[16]
  • Date is given as a Kali Day chronogram (871 AD).[16]
c. 882/83 AD[2] 13[18] Vattezhuthu with Grantha/Southern Pallava Grantha characters (early Malayalam)[18]
  • The plate is owned by Muvidathu Madham, Thiruvalla.[18]
  • The plate is said to belonged to and discovered from Talamana Illam or madham, near the eastern tower of Vazhappally Temple, Changanassery.[19]
Temple committee resolution[18]
  • Records a temple committee resolution presided over by king Rajasekhara.[6] The resolution describes Thiruvatruvay Pathinettu Nattar, Vazhappally Urar and the king deciding on land grant for muttappali (daily offering in temple).[18]
  • The inscription begins with the invocation "Namah Shivaya" ("Respect to Shiva") in place of the usual "Swasti Sri" ("Hail! Prosperity!").[18]
  • The record also mentions a coin called "dinara".[18]


  1. ^ a b c Narayanan, M. G. S. (2013) [1972]. Perumals of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks. pp. 64–65.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Devadevan, Manu (2014). "Changes in Land Relations during the Decline of the Cera State". In V., Kesavan; Davis Jr., D. R. (eds.). Irreverent History: Essays In Honour Of M. G. S. Narayanan. New Delhi: Primus Books. pp. 58 and 74-75.
  3. ^ a b Karashima, Noburu (2014). "States in the Deccan and Kerala". A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. Oxford University Press. pp. 145–47.
  4. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. (2013) [1972]. Perumals of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks. pp. 64–66, 88-95 and 107.
  5. ^ a b Veluthat, Kesavan (2017). "The Temple and the State in Medieval South India". Studies in People's History. 4 (1): 15–23. doi:10.1177/2348448917693729. S2CID 158422635.
  6. ^ a b Veluthat, Kesavan (2004). "Mahodayapuram-Kodungallur". South Indian Horizons. École française d'Extrême-Orient. pp. 471–85.
  7. ^ a b c d e Unni, N. P. (1965). "Kulasekhara Varman - His Date and Identity". Kulasekhara Varman and his Works. University of Kerala. pp. 16–20. hdl:10603/175255.
  8. ^ a b c d Veluthat, Kesavan (2018). "History and Historiography in Constituting a Region". Studies in People's History. 5 (1): 13–31. doi:10.1177/2348448918759852. S2CID 166060066.
  9. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. (2013) [1972]. Perumals of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks. pp. 64 and 77.
  10. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. (2013) [1972]. Perumals of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks. pp. 302–303.
  11. ^ a b Narayanan, M. G. S. (2013) [1972]. Perumals of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks. pp. 64-66 and 78-79.
  12. ^ Narayanan, M. G. S. (2013) [1972]. Perumals of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks. pp. 79–80.
  13. ^ a b Veluthat, Kesavan (1982). "The Status of the Monarch". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 43: 147–157. JSTOR 44141225.
  14. ^ Vielle, Christophe (2012). "Real and Ideal Kings in Matrilineal Kerala". Religions of South Asia. 5 (1): 365–387. doi:10.1558/rosa.v5i1/2.365.
  15. ^ Devadevan, Manu V. (2020). "The Semantic Universe of the Kudiyattam Theatre". The 'Early Medieval' Origins of India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 229–30.
  16. ^ a b c d e Tewari, Rakesh, ed. (2016). "Chera Inscription, Kurumattur, District Allapuram" (PDF). Indian Archaeology – A Review. Archaeological Survey of India. 2010–2011: 118.
  17. ^ Naha, Abdul Latheef (11 February 2011). "Ancient Inscription Throws New Light on Chera History". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 20 September 2019.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h Narayanan, M. G. S. (2013) [1972]. Perumals of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks. p. 435.
  19. ^ Rao, T. A. Gopinatha (ed.). "An Inscription of Rajasekhara". Travancore Archaeological Series. Government of Travancore. 2 (2): 8–14.

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