Bhadrachalam temple – Shri Ram pays the debt of his devotee Ramdas

It is no boasting that the Almighty always rushes to the rescue of his devotees. The Almighty responds to his devotee’s plea done out of pure devotion and immediately sees to it that he is saved from his misery. Right from saving little Prahlad from Hirankashyap to rescuing Gajendra from the clutches of the crocodile, it is all the benevolence of the Almighty that made him rush to save his devotees. What makes it even more special is the way that their names are remembered till eternity as examples of pure faith. The temple of Bhadrachalam in the Telangana State stands as a remembrance to such a simple saint musician Ramadas who was saved by Shri Ram and Lakshman for his pure devotion.

Ramdas was earlier called as Kancherla Gopanna and lived in the 17th century in the Telangana region which was then under the rule of the Golconda King Abul Hasan Tana Shah. He belonged to a Brahmin family and his uncles Akkanna and Madanna were ministers in the court of Tana Shah. After his formal education, Gopanna was appointed as the Tahsildar in the Sultan’s court.

It is very true that when the true calling comes, the life of a man changes totally. Gopanna’s true calling came in the form of Shri Ram. During one of his visits of tax collection, Gopanna saw an abandoned temple of Shri Ram in Bhadrachalam, (believed to be the forest of Panchavati). His devotion came out as a rush of happiness and he immediately started reconstructing and renovating the temple of Shri Ram with the money collected as tax. Gopanna‘s devotion also was immortalised in the form of songs which he sang in the glory of Shri Ram and they became popular as the Ramdas Bhajans in the Telugu region.

However, few courtiers started feeling jealous of Gopanna’s popularity and plotted against him. They approached Tana Shah and filled his mind that Gopanna was using the Sultan’s money as a means to become famous. Tana Shah was furious on this and put Gopanna in jail. For twelve years Gopanna suffered all the hardships in jail with patience. However, when he was unable to tolerate the ill treatment given to him, he called out for help from Shri Ram with an earnest to save him.

Indeed, Shri Ram along with Lakshman came to his rescue. They appeared in the dream of Tana Shah while introducing themselves as Gopanna’s friends and requested his release. When the Sultan refused to do it without the payment of the debt, Shri Ram and Lakshman started showering gold coins in front of the king and repaid his debt before disappearing. When Tana Sha awoke from his dream, he was surprised to see a mound full of gold coins in front of him with images of Shri Ram and Lakshman on them.

Tana Shas was awestruck that Shri Ram and Lakshman had come to save Gopanna. He rushed to Gopanna and asked him for forgiveness. Since then Gopanna was renamed as Bhadrachala Ramdas on the name of the temple and Shri Ram. Tana Shah offered huge number of pearls to the temple and made it a custom that offerings from the king’s treasury would go every year to the temple. This tradition is continued even till date where the ruling State Government offers pearls to Shri Ram during Ram Navami festivities in the temple thus remembering that Shri Ram had come to save his devotee Bhakt Ramdas in the most special way.