Lone Wolf Ratnakar Profile picture
Mar 29 46 tweets 10 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
On the eve of #ramanavami thread on one of the main Rama Temples down South, and one of the holiest Hindu sites,Bhadrachalam on the banks of the Godavari. A temple associated with Bhakta Ramadasu.
Shree Rama is an integral part of Telugu society and culture, contrary to what some "enlightened intellectuals" claim. Ramalayams are found in every village, small town,city of Andhra and Telangana. And Ramanavami is a major festival here.
We have had different versions of the Ramayana in Telugu, the more well known ones being Molla Ramayanam, Sri Ranganatha Ramayanam and Ramayanamu Kalpavrikshamu by Viswanatha Satyanarayan. Not to mention popular Telugu movies on Ramayana.
After Shree Venkateswara, the next most popular God in the Telugu states would have to be Shree Rama himself. Many places in the Telugu states have a close connection with Ramayana, as Rama is believed to have travelled here during his exile.
Lepakshi is believed to have got it's name from the fact that Rama met an injured Jatayu here, and asked it to rise, Le Pakshi( Rise O Bird).
Proddatur in Kadapa dt, is where Rama is believed to have rested at Sunset( Proddu) after returning from Lanka along with Sita.
While Tirupathi is famous for Balaji temple, the Kodanda Rama Swamy temple right in the heart of the city, is equally well known, the temple was believed to have been built by Jambavan, when Rama, Sita, Lakshamana visited here.
And then you have the well known Rama Temple at Vontimitta in Kadapa district, where the Sitarama Kalyanam is celebrated now after the partition of the state.
But among all the temples, Bhadrachalam has a special signficance and emotional attachment to Telugu people. After Tirupathi it is one of the most holiest sites to many Telugu people, and the trip along Godavari from Rajahmundry is worth undertaking.
And when one speaks of Bhadrachalam, the name that comes to mind immediately would of course be that of Bhakta Ramadasu aka Kancherla Gopanna. In a way he is to Bhadrachalam what Annamayya was to Tirupathi and Shree Venkateswara.
The unique feature of Bhadrachalam temple, though is that a major part of the construction was financed and carried out by Ramadasu himself, who was a mere Tahsildar. And the Sitarama Kalyanam here every Ramanavami is one grand celebration.
As per the Sthala Puranam, Bhadrachalam, gets it’s name from the story of a sage named Bhadra, the son of Menaka and Mount Meru, an ardent devotee of Shree Rama, doing penance on the banks of the Godavari.
The Rishi desired for the vision of Shree Ram, and when he appeared, implored him to be seated on his head. Rama who was however in search of Sita, promised that he would do so as soon he finds her, and comes back.
As the penance of Bhadra grew more stringent, Shree Maha Vishnu himself appeared as Vykuntha Rama in front of Bhadra, with Sita seated on his thigh, and Laxman to his left.
Bhadra being the son of Mount Meru, seated Rama, Sita and Laxmana on his head, which was the peak of the hillock. And thus the name Bhadrachalam( Hill of Bhadra) or Bhadragiri came to the place.
Bhadrachalam also has a significant part in the Ramayan, as a part of the vast Dandakaranya. It is believed to be the spot where Lord Ram spent the exile along with Sita and Laxman, at a village called Parnasala, around 30 Km from Bhadrachalam.
It is also believed to be the spot where Ravan abducted Sita, and Rama killed the demons Khara and Dhushana, after a fierce battle at another village called Dummagudem close by.
Idigo Bhadradri, Gautami adigo chudandi.

One of Ramadasu’s famous Kirtanas extolling the beauty of Bhadrachalam, asking the people to see the beauty of both Bhadradri and Gautami( another name for the river Godavari)
Mudamato Seeta, mudita Lakshmanulu kalisi Raghupati Yundedi.

With Seeta on his thigh, and Lakshmana to his side, does Raghupati reside here.
The murthi of Shree Rama is in a Chaturbhuja form, with the bow and arrows in front, and the Shanka Chakra in the rear right and left hands respectively. It faces west towards the Godavari river and is seated in a padmasana pose.
The idols were found by Pokala Dhammaka, tribal woman, who was an ardent devotee of Shree Rama. It is believed that Rama himself, revealed the location of the idols to Dhamakka, and also predicted that one of his devotees would build a huge temple.
That devotee happened to be on Kancharla Gopanna, who would later become famous as Bhadrachala Ramadasu( not to be confused with Samartha Ramadas, in Maharashtra). In fact to date, Ramadasu is still referred to as Kancharla Gopanna.
Gopanna was born in the remote village of Nelakondapalli located in present day Khammam district, to a pious Brahmin couple, Linganna Murthy and Kamamba. His maternal uncles, Akkanna and Madanna, were working in the court of Tana Shah,Qutub Shahi sultan in high positions.
Madanna being the treasurer of the Golkonda sultanate, ensured employment for Gopanna as a Tahsildar for the Palvancha division. Once Gopanna happened to visit Bhadrachalam once during a Jatara, where he happened to see the temple in a rather dilapidated state.
It was then that Gopanna appealed to the villagers to donate liberally for the construction of the temple. In spite of the best efforts, he was still short of money, forcing him to use part of the tax revenues for the construction of the temple.
The Sultan Tana Shah, furious at this incident, imprisoned Ramadasu in the Golkonda fort prison, where he was tortured daily. The 12 long years of imprisonment in the Golkonda fort, was a period of endless suffering for Ramadasu, servant of Rama.
Those 12 years in prison were what transformed Kancharla Gopanna to Ramadasu, the servant of Rama. It was during his period in captivity, he came out with some of the best poems and Keerthanas on Rama.
Day after day, Ramadasu, sang to Shree Rama to rescue him from his misery. At times yearning, at times downright critical, at times imploring, the pain and agony of Ramadasu, manifested itself through the Keertanas.
A vast majority of Ramadasu keertana’s written in prison,centered around his call to Shree Rama. While it is not possible for me to explore each and every keertana, I am just having a look at some of the more well known ones.
Paluke Bangaramayena, Kodandapani,paluke Bangaramaye.

Has your voice become as rare as Gold, Oh Kondandapani( one of the names of Shree Rama after his bow).
Paluke Bangaramaye, pilachina palukavemi, kalalo ne naama smarana marava, chakkani tandri.

Why do you not speak to me, even when I call you, and I hath not forsaken your name even in my dreams, dear father
Enta vegina gani, suntaina daya raadu, pantamu seya, nenentativadanu tandri.

You show no mercy inspite of my repeated pleas, my father who am I for you to be so adamant with me.
Saranagatatrana biruduamkitavud gada, karuninchu Bhadrachala vara Rama Poshaka.

One who bears the title of the One who grants Refuge( Saranagatatrana), have mercy Oh protector of Bhadrachala Rama.
Another beautiful Keertana of Ramadasu is “Nannu Brovamani Cheppave, Seetamma Talli”, where he implores Maa Seeta( Seetamma Thalli) to request Shree Rama to rescue him from his misery.
Another keertana, one which to date remains one of the most popular in the Telugu literature is “Ee teeruga nanu daya chuchedavo, ina vamsotama Rama, na tarama Bhava sagarameedanu, nalina dalekshana Rama”.
Here Ramadasu requesting Shree Rama to help him cross the Bhava Sagarama( literally the Ocean of the worldly life, a metaphor for eternal salvation)
Rama, whichever shore I am on, show thy mercy on me, Oh noble soul of Ina Dynasty, it is not in me alone to swim across the ocean of the worldly life.
At one stage Ramadasu, even implores Shree Rama to overlook his Karma or any mistakes he had committed, “Krura karmamulu neraka chesithini,neramulenchaku rama, daridramu pariharamu seyave,Daiva sikhamani Rama”.
Oh Rama , out of ignorance I had comitted the mistakes in life, do not seek the crimes I had done Rama, and lead me out of this misery
Finally, the tale of Shree Rama and Lakshmana, appearing as youngsters in front of Tana Shah, and paying him the amount, is well known, that resulted in Ramadasu’s release from captivity.
Tana Shah realizing the greatness of Ramadasu, donated the entire money to the Bhadrachalam Temple, for it’s maintenance and upkeep. He also started the practice of donating the Mutyala Talambralu( pearls) every year for the Sri Rama Kalyanotsavam.
Even now the State Govt of Telangana, still follows the practice of gifting the pearls every Ram Navami for the Kalyanotsava. It was earlier done by Andhra Pradesh Govt when the temple was in United AP.
Other worthwhile places near Bhadrachalam apart from the temple, is the village of Parnasala around 30 Km from the place, where Shree Rama was believed to have spent time in exile, there is a model of the Ashram here.
If you want to visit the Bhadrachalam temple, the best way would be to take the launch ride from Rajahmundry to Bhadrachalam, along the Godavari flow through the dense jungles of the Papikondalu.
You also have tents near the river to stay and where u can view the beauty of the Papikondalu at close range. That said be careful,there are many unscruplous tour operators of late, operating unsafe boats. So choose wisely.
Bhadrachalam is one of those places to be visited, for it's temple, the scenic backdrop of the Godavari, the Papikondalu nearby and the very holy atmosphere of the place.
My article here on Bhadrachalam do check out and share.

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