Bhadrachala Ramadasu

Ramadasu. Click Image for another blog about Bhadrachalam with photographs and stories.

Index : Devotional Music Composers

While the Maharashtrians believe that Sri Rama came South through Nasik (where he encountered Surpanakha and where Sita Devi was abducted), it is believed in Andhra that Sri Rama’s Parnasala was in Bhadrachalam, at the other end of the Godavari River. (Source)

I have travelled to Bhadrachalam and crossed the Godavari River in a boat  and seen this beautiful and divine place filled with images from the story of Sita’s time there. The Bhadragiri itself is said to be the child of Meru and Menaka.

Click here for the history of the temple and the wonderful story of Bhaktha Ramadas, the devotee who built the temple.

When we were children, our great grandmother used to declare that her tiny, windowless room (which she preferred because it was warm) was her Ramadasu Bandhikana or the prison of Ramadasu.  Our grandmother used to sing us to sleep with some of the beautiful keerthanas of Ramadas.

Some of them speak of his pain, when unable to endure the tortures inflicted on him while in prison, for diverting the Tanisha’s tax revenue towards temple construction. Some of them beg Sita Devi to intervene on his behalf and persuade Sri Rama to save him. The story ends happily with Sri Rama and Lakshmana personally paying off the debt of Ramadas and with him being set free, much to our delight and relief. The coins used for payment are called Ram Tanka coins and can be seen even today.

Swami Harshananda has written that Thyagraja and Ramadasu were two of the key figures responsible for the spread of the Bhakthi Movement in the south, with Sri Rama as the object of their devotion. The renditions of the Sri Ramadasu keerthanalu by the famous Carnatic Vocalist Dr. Mangalampallli Bala Murali Krishna are extremely popular. I just love them.

Papikondalu : Ramayanam locations in Andhra Pradesh The place where  Sita Devi used to bathe is called Sitamma Vaagu. The site where Ravana parked his Vimanam, where Lakshmana dispatched Surpanakha,  the hut where they all stayed, the place where Maricha was killed by Sri Rama, etc are marked here as places of piligrimage. This is one of the locations for Panchavati. The river  Sabari (tributary of the Godavari) passes within 50 km of this spot.

[Mukku Chevulu:The custom of snipping off the ear tips and nose tip of a woman, (for that same offence a man would be killed), was in vogue in machilipatnam even in the 1980’s in gang wars (not for normal people). It was considered the greatest loss to kill a woman (because she bears children and propagates the race), and this insult was considered equal to death. Hindi has a phrase Naak Kaat Gaya, to imply a loss of prestige.

It is said that Surpanakha was punished for trying to kill Sita, if a man had done that, Lakshmana would have killed him without a second thought. ]

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