Bhadrachalam is situated on the bank of the sacred river Godavari. It is the house of Sri Vaikuntha Rama – the four handed Deity form of Sri Ramachandra. This is one of the most visited pilgrimage centres in South India.
History of Bhadrachalam
Bhadrachalam is also known as Bhadragiri or Bhadradri after the great sage Bhadra Muni; the son of Mount Meru and Menaka. Meru was childless for a long time and after performing the penances he was blessed with twins Bhadra and Neela who became great devotees of Lord Vishnu. Mount Meru instructed his sons to perform penances – one on the bank of river Godavari and the other at Puri, to be blessed by Lord Ramachandra and Lord Krishna respectively.
While Bhadra Muni was performing the penances at Bhadrachalam, Rama and Lakshmana came to Bhadrachalam searching for Mother Sita. Bhadra Muni requested the Lord to be seated on his head along with Srimati Sita and Lakshmana so that the people may get the benefit of worshipping Their Lordships in future.
Lord Ramachandra promised to fulfill this desire of Bhadra Muni after finding His consort. However the Lord left to Vaikuntha without fulfilling His promise. Bhadra Muni continued his meditation with so much purity that even Lord Brahma and other demigods were agitated. Pleased by his penance, Lord Vishnu descended from Vaikuntha and bestowed His transcendental vision in the form of Lord Ramachandra, Srimati Sita and Sri Lakshamana and thus manifested Himself as a Deity on the request of Bhadra Muni. He also requested the Lord to keep His lotus feet on His head which one can see today also behind the temple of Sri Vaikuntha Rama.
The Special Deity of Ramachandra at Bhadrachalam
Lord Ramachandra is seated with Srimati Sita seated on His left lap. He exhibits four hands holding arrow, conch shell, disc and a bow. The disc and conchshell are usually in the upper right and left hand of the Lord respectively but here these symbols are interchanged. Sudarshana in the upper right hand signifies the annihilation of demons but the Lord is holding panchajanya in His upper right hand to bestow benediction upon devotees. Bhadra Muni requested the Lord to interchange these symbols.
Rediscovering the Deities
Through the ages, the Deities had been lost. No one knew about Their whereabouts. Sometime in the 17th century, Lord Ramachandra appeared in the dream of a lady named Pokala Dhammakka (descendent of Sabari) and instructed her to remove Him from the anthill and worship Him. She set out for a search the next day itself. As told she found Them covered by an anthill. She then poured gallons of water of Godavari on the anthill to wash it away. The anthill revealed the very beautiful Deities of Lord Ramachandra with Srimati Sita and Lakshmana.
Since then, she started to worship and offer fruits from the nearby palmyra tree. She also got a mandapa constructed with the help of local villagers.
Bhakta Ramadas Builds Temple at Bhadrachalam
The current temple at Bhadrachalam was constructed by Kancharla Gopanna who was popularly known as Bhakta Ramadas in the year 1630 A.D.
He was born to Linganna Murthy and Kamamba in Nelakondapalli village of Khammamett Taluk in 17th century (1630 A.D.). He was nephew of Akkannna, the administrative head in the court of Nawab Abul Hussan Shah known as ‘Tanishah’ of Golkonda and was appointed by him as Tahsildar of ‘Palvoncha Paragana’. As a devotee of the Lord he carried out his prescribed duties of collecting revenues and also continued singing the glories of the Lord.
Once Ramadas heard that the villagers of Palvoncha Paragana were proceeding to witness yearly celebrations at Bhadrachalam; he too out of curiosity and by the arrangement of the Lord visited the sacred place.
He was enamored by the beauty of the Lord and wanted to construct the temple. He requested all the villagers to contribute liberally for the construction of the temple. The villagers in response appealed him to spend revenue collections for the construction with the promise to repay the amount after harvesting the crops. As such Ramadas constructed the temple with an amount of six lakhs without the permission of the Nizam Nawab.
The sudarshana chakra at the top of the temple was found in River Godavari by Ramadas after being guided by Lord Ramachandra in his dream. (Also read 10 not known facts about Bhadrachalam)
A Transcendental Exchange Between Lord and His Devotee
This was not the end. His life turned miserable and he was dismissed from his post for mis-utilization of revenues. He was imprisoned in Golconda Fort for twelve long years and was tortured for no wrongdoing.
Unable to withstand the torture, he made an appeal to Lord Ramachandra in the form of songs. Ramadas was asked for the accounts of the money and he cried out Ishvaku Kula Tilaka…… in this song he abuses Lord Ramachandra for not taking care of him in spite of his caring services to the Deities. He narrates the accounts to the Lord while constructing the temple at Bhadrachalam.
In the song Pahi Rama Prabho…. he approaches Lord for his protection. He also composed a song Paluke Bangaramayena….. while he was in prison. In this song he asks the Lord that why He was not speaking to him? And His speech had become as valuable as gold. At last he pleads Srimati Sita to speak to Lord Ramachandra on his behalf, in the song Nanu Brovamani Cheppaveh…. He says, O! Mother when you are alone with my Lord after the day’s events, please speak to Him on my behalf. Please remind Him of my sufferings and request Him to cast His merciful glance unto me.
On Her behest, Lord Ramachandra and Lakshmana disguised as Ramoji and Lakshmoji respectively, the servants of Bhakta Ramadas paid six lakh rupees to Nizam Nawab Tanishah in form of gold coins and got Ramadas released.
When Tanishah realized that those servants were none other than the Lordships Themselves, he immediately fell at the feet of Bhakta Ramadas to beg forgiveness for his offenses. He also gifted him the land near the temple for more services to Lord Ramachandra.
Till today the kirtanas of Bhakta Ramadas are sung in the houses of Andhra and he is remembered and glorified on the level of Hanuman as he had no personal consideration for the service of the Lord. He sacrificed everything for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord Ramachandra.
In line with the instructions of Bhakta Ramadas, the kalyanotsava of Sri Ramachandra and Srimati Sita is performed every day in the temple at Bhadrachalam.0