Epitome of devotion

Last Updated 23 February 2011, 16:02 IST

Also associated with this venerated temple is the name of one of the greatest devotees of Lord Rama, that of Bhadrachala Ramadasa. The life of this divine soul is a saga of total, unconditional devotion to the supreme Lord in the form of Rama, in the face of the greatest trials and tribulations.

Though the details of his life history are well known, a brief outline of the same bears repetition to fully appreciate the depth and magnitude of his devotion.

Born as Kancherla Gopanna into a cultured and pious family, he displayed a remarkable sense of spirituality from a young age with Lord Rama as his chosen deity.  His devotion did not waver even after growing up and taking up employment with the then ruling Nawab as a revenue collector.  Freely spending his earnings in the worship of the Lord, feeding the poor and other such noble activities saw his wealth diminishing.

A chance visit to Bhadrachalam saw him visiting the primitive and dilapidated structure housing the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. How these idols came to be there is another story in itself.  Deciding to renovate the structure, he soon ran out of funds and decided to use the revenue money which had to be submitted to the Nawab. 

Upon learning about this, a furious Nawab had him imprisoned.  After twelve long years, Gopanna was freed, as lore has it on the miraculous intervention of Lord Rama himself with a penitent Nawab atoning for his mistake by pledging an equivalent amount that Gopanna had used for the upkeep of the temple.

It was during his incarceration that Gopanna poured forth his devotion in the form of songs, mostly in Telugu. Every one of them is a discourse with the Lord, displaying the various forms of Bhakti.

He sings the glories of the Lord, chides him for ignoring him, fervently appeals for freedom from earthly bondage and for unwavering devotion in this life and hereafter. It was thus that people named him "Ramadasa"- servant of Rama.

Many of his songs like "Paluke Bangara Mayena, Emayya Rama, Adigo Bhadradri among others is extremely popular even today. The words of Saint Purandaradasa reflect Ramadasa's devotion.

"In this Kaliyuga, it is the singing of the Lord's greatness that ensures salvation for the soul". As the Lord himself says in the Bhagawad Gita, "it is only after several births with sincere and rigorous practice that the true seeker reaches me", this noble soul did what came to him naturally- fall at the feet of the Lord. Without any expectations.

The lives of such divine souls on this earth is the culmination of several successive noble births , with the intention of showing to humanity the path to deliverance, through a life of simplicity, nobility and spirituality.|

(Published 23 February 2011, 16:02 IST)

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