Bhakta Ramadas was born in 1620 AD at Nelakondapalli in Andhra
Desam and lived for 68 years on this earth. In the last verse of his Dasarathi
Satakam , he describes himself this way: "Allana Linga Mantri Suthudu(son), Atreya Gothrudu, Adi Sakha , Kancherla Kulothbhavudu,
Gopakavindrudu ". His give name was Gopanna . His father was Linganna Mantri(Minister) , a surname he kept as a result of one of his forebearers being a minister at the court of a king . People called Gopanna by the
name familiar to us as Bhadrachala Ramadas, because of his devotion to the Vaikunta Rama enshrined at Bhadrachalam , a small
village in the middle of the jungle on the northern banks of the holy river Godhavary.
The temple of Rama here is on a small hillock. Some 22 miles to the north of Bhadrachalam on the bank of Godhavary
is said to be the place of Parnasaala of Rama and Sita. This is by legend said to be the site where Ramana abducted Sita(
Nasik -Panchavati is another site mentioned regarding the location of Parnasaala). At the spot, where Sita lived with her
dear Rama, there are two kinds of stone , one Yellow and another red in color. Natives call them Pasupu Rallu and Kumkuma
Rallu since they give powders on rubbing , which look like Turmeric and Kumkumam (red Saffron) . These stones are said to
be used by Sita Devi for her bathing and decoration. There is a tree nearby, which is said to be Surpanaka. Pilgrims consider
it their religious duty to throw a stone at this tree ! The base of the tree is covered with a huge assembly of stones.
The temple at Bhadrachalam has the Archa Murthys of Rama, Sita
and Lakshmana and are considered to be Svayambhu Murthys (self-manifested ones). The presence of these deities in the middle
of the Jungle was revealed to one pious woman by the name Dhammakka in a dream.She was considered to belong to the kulam of
Sabari .Dhammakka hastened to the site,cleared jungle and offered puja to the deities.
This temple and its deities played a central role in the life of
Ramadas . He was at the time the Tasildhaar of Bhadrachalam and began to collect funds from people to build a proper temple
for Sri Ramachandra at Bhadragiri . When there was not enough funds to complete the temple , Praakaram construction and the
Celebration of Utsavams for Sri Rama and Sita , he took the money from the tax
revenue of his king ( Taani Shah of Golconda) and vowed to return it back to the state treasury.Tani Shah was angry at the
Tasildhaar for channeling the state money and had Ramadas arrested and locked
him up in a prison close to his palace. His incarceration gave Ramadas the name of Bandekhana
Ramadas. From the prison, he cried out for Rama and reminded him
about his services in his moving song Ishvaku Kula Tilaka . Here he has some rough words for Rama for not taking care of him
inspite of his devoted and caring services to Sri Rama and His family. Sri Rama responded and came with His brother to the
court of Tanisha in the form of two youngsters and paid back the debt of Ramadas and got his release papers. The golden coins paid by Sri Rama are known as Ram
Tanka coins .They can be seen even today.
These coins have the Pattabhishekam scene on one side and the picture of another Rama Bhaktha, Anjaneya on the other
side. Tanisha was moved and recognized the greatness of Rama Das and released him immediately and gave him land around Bhadrachalam
to continue his dedicated service to Bhadrachala Ramamurthy .Here Ramadas spent the rest of his life and composed moving poems
that inspired Saint Thyagaraja later. Latte rhas paid his tribute to the illustrious Rama Bhakthi of Ramadas in many of his
Krithis (Kshira sagara sayana in Devagandhari, Brindavanalola in Thodi, Kaligiyunde Gada in Kirvani , Emi Dova Balkuma In
Saranga and in Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam).
Two examples of Saint Thyagaraja"s tribute to the Rama Bhakthi of Ramadas are as follows :
In the Devagandhari krithi he asks Rama: "Dhirudau Ramadasuni Bandhamu dirchinadi Vinnanura Rama? ( O Rama! I have
heard how You obtained the release of the BOLD Ramadas from his prison life).
In his Padya in Prahlada Vijayam ., we find another tribute:
KALIYUGAMUNA VARA BHADRA CHALAMUNA NELAKONNA
RAMACHANDRUNI PADA BHAKTULA KELLA VARUDANANDAGI
VELASINA SRI RAMADASU VINUTINTU MADIN
( I praise Sri Ramadas,who shines in this world as the supreme devotee of Sri ramachandra , who shines forth from his
seat at Bhadracahlam in this kali Yuga).
Saint Thyagaraja adopted Sri Ramadas as his role model and admired latter for his Ananya Bhakti, gaining Rama Sakshaatkara
and spreading Rama Nama Siddhaantha . Saint Thyagarahja referred to himself as the Dasa Of Ramadas and equated the Bhadrachala
Ramadas to other sterling devotees of Rama such as Narada, Parasara , Valmiki et al.
The Bhagavad anubhavam of Bhadrachala Ramadas poured forth from his heart and lips in the form of many krithis and
Divyanamas. They are mostly in Telugu with the exception of two in Sanskrit.
The simple language used for these Bhakti-laden songs captured the minds of paamaraas and Pandithaas .
Professor P.Sambhamoorthy, the great musicologst has classified Ramadas krithis into three categories:
1.Those composed before his incarceration
2.Those composed during his incarceration
3.Songs composed after his release
He can be outspoken in his conversations with Rama like Thirumangai in his Madals .Saint Thyagaraja adopted this style
in his anubhavam of Sri Rama. The song "Ishvaku Kula Tilaka" referred to by Rajiv is an example of such a mood.
example of this type of plain talk is provided in his Kambhoji krithi ,"Adarana Leni ":
Ennaga Sabari Yengili Bhakshanamu
Chesinathi Vyabichari Nivu
Ninnu Nammagarraadu ! Ninnu Daiva
Manaraadu ! Nijamu na mata Devuda ".
At other times, he will beg tenderly for Rama to appear before him (Ramararaa Sita --Anandhabhairavi) , Oh Rama Ni
Nama Memi Ruchira --Purvikalyani). He will say in one Krithi , "Takkuvemi Manaku (Surykaantam Ragam )" and explain: "What
do we need, When Rama is at our side? " in a mood of Maha Viswasam, an anga of Saranagathi.
Elsewhere, he will appeal to Sita Devi to come to his rescue and speak to Her Lord
as an expression of Her Purushakaaram. Two such songs are Ramachandrulu Naapai(Asaaveri) and Nanu Brovamani Cheppaveh
(Kalyani). Sri Balamurali"s soulful rendering of these two Krithis in a 1977 recording are moving. He begs Sita Devi this
way: " O Mother, My mother! When You are alone with your Lord and my Father after the day"s events, Please speak to him on
my behalf and create a compassionate mood in Him.
Please Remind Him of my sufferings and and ask Him to cast His
merciful glances at me. Thru another Krithi , he will experience Karpanyam (another anga of Saranagathi) and will say "I do
not know in which way you are going to come to my rescue. O Paramatma! How can I succeed in swimming in these Samsaric Ocean
without your help? (Ea Theeruga Nanu Daya Choochedavo -Mayamalava Gowlam ).
Using Madhyamavati ragam, he will cry his heart out for the protection
by Rama (Pahi rama Prabho )>. Examples of some other Krithis reflecting
his moods of Bhakthi (Sanchaari Bhaavas) are:
1.Nirveda and Dainyokthi(Despondency and Plaintive pleading):
In Paluke Bangaramayena(Anandhabhairavi), He asks the Lord: " O Rama! Why wont you speak to me? I wont forget the chanting
of your Taraka Nama even in my sleep". He is said to have received the Taraka Nama Upadesam from Bhaktha Kabir Das , another
great Rama Bhaktha in his dream .Kabir Das preceded Ramadas by two hundred Years. After receiving his Upadesam , Ramadas sung
his Danyaasi Krithi " Taraka Mantramu " , where he proudly announced that He
has been blessed and that he has
found his salvation. He made his first trip to Bhadrachalam by boat and at one
bend of the river caught his first glimpse of the Lord"s temple on the Badra Hill and sang with ecstacy "Idhigo Bhadradri
" in Varali Ragam. At this temple, Sri Rama has Sita seated on his left thigh and carries chakram in the left hand and sankham
on his right hand. Lakshmana stands by in vigil to serve His brother. Ramadas landed from the boat and offered his profound salutations to Sri Rama and sang in
Suryakantam " Takkuvemi Manaku". Like Swami Desikan , he expressed here his
Vairagyam and said " What else do I need , when Ramachandra is at our side?" He sang Pallandu to the Lord like Periyaazhwaar
in his Kurunji raga krithi, "Ramachandrayya " and hailed " O Rama living in the heart of your devotee Ramadas, May ALL auspiciousness
The Bhagavad Anubhavam and the Bhakti Prakaaras (Forms of Devotion ) of this great Rama Bhaktha set an example to other
great Rama Bhakthas like Saint Thyagaraja.
Sri Hanumat Lakshmana Sametha Sitarama
Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan
Panguni Krishna Paksha Visakam.
Sankatahara Chathurthi Dinam.