Palukey Bangaramaayana - The Golden Song

PALUKEY BANGARAMAAYANA is a golden Krithi, composed in lucid Telugu, by BHADRACHALA RAMAADASU, also known as BHAKTA RAMADASU. He was a 17th century saint poet, composer of Carnatic music and an ardent devotee of LORD RAMA. He was born in 1620 at Nelakondapally in Khammam District of Telangana, to Linganna Mantri and Kamaamba. His Parents named him Kancharla Gopanna, and later he was glorified as Ramadasu, or the devotee of Lord Rama. He was orphaned when he was a teenager and was helped by his maternal uncles, Madanna and Akkanna, who were ministers at the court of Tana Shah of the Qutub Shahi Dynasty. Through their influence, Ramadasu was appointed as Tahsildar (Tax Collector), who led the tax collection activities in Bhadrachalam.

Ramadasu visited the famous Rama Temple in Bhadrachalam, and felt poignant pain when he noticed that the temple was in a dilapidated state. Bhadrachalam is closely associated with the life of Lord Rama. It was here that Lord Rama, Sita Devi And Lakshmana resided, during their exile from Ayodhya. Ramadasu, with the lofty aim to reconstruct and renovate the temple, started raising funds. He emptied his savings and also utilized the funds he raised from the devotees, but still more money was needed to complete the temple renovation. The villagers urged him to expand the revenue collections, which were supposed to be handed over to Tana Shah. They promised to give him the money after the harvest and sale of their produce. Hence, Ramadasu completed the temple construction by spending six hundred thousand varahas, (rupees), without seeking the permission of Qutub Shah to do so. When the Shah came to know of this, he was enraged and he imprisoned Ramadasu in Golconda. Ramadasu was a staunch devotee and he composed Krithis (songs) in praise of Lord Rama in the prison.

One night, Lord Rama and His brother Lakshmana appeared in Tana Shah’s dream, said that they were, Ramoji and Lakshmoji, the attendants of Ramadasu and they wanted to return the money which was taken to build the temple. Tana Shah woke up from his sleep and was perplexed to find RAMA MUDRAS (golden coins with Rama’s image) beside him. Tana Shah realized that Ramadasu was so dear to Lord Rama that the Lord Himself came in person for the sake of His devotee. Tana Shah released Ramadasu from prison and also rewarded him abundantly. He established a tradition of sending pearls to Bhadrachalam on Rama Navami (Lord Rama’s Birthday), which was even followed by Nizams of Hyderabad.

The Telugu movie Sri Ramadasu, directed by Raghavendra Rao, released in 2006 portrays the life of Ramadasu and also highlights his compositions. Akkineni Nagarjuna has donned the role of Ramadasu, while Sneha plays the role of his wife Kamala to perfection. The movie is a must watch for music lovers.

One of Ramadasu’s famous compositions is Paluke Bangaaramayana, in the Raga Anandha Bhairavi, set to Adhi Taala. Anandha Bhairavi is a melodious raaga of Carnatic music. Anandham means ‘happiness.’ This raaga gives immense joy and serenity to the listeners. This raaga is sung at the Oonjal ceremony at weddings.

The notable compositions in this raaga are Kamalamba by Dhikshitar, Sheera Saagara vihara by Thyagaraja, Palukey bangaaramaayana by Ramadasu, Rama naama by Purandara daasar. The famed Tamil compositions are Singaara velavan vandhaan, Karpaga valliyin, Raksha Raksha jagan maatha and Kannoonjal aadi. The well-known movie songs based on this raaga are, Poi vaa magaley (Karnan), Naan Aatchi seidhu (Aadhi Paraashakti), Mettu podu (Duet), Nadhiyey Nadhiyey (Rhythm), Paartha mudhal naaley (Vettaiyaadu Vilayaadu) and many more.

Ramadasu in this composition addresses Lord Rama as his heavenly Father. This song is the composer’s direct dialogue with Lord Rama. He begins the composition quizzing, Lord Rama, ‘O Kodhandapani (the one with a Bow), have your words become as precious and rare as gold’(Paluke Bangaramayana). Why are you not responding, even though I am repeatedly calling out for you? Even in my dreams I cannot forget chanting your name (Kalalo nee naama smarana, marava chakkani thandri), O divine Father.’

‘O Lord Rama, I am aware and I believe that you have shown mercy and protected the squirrel, which helped you in building the bridge to Lanka.’ In the epic, Ramayana, Lord Rama with the help of the Vaanaras (the monkey army of King Sugreeva), constructed a bridge to reach Lanka and bring back Sita Devi. The monkeys were strong and lifted huge boulders and built the bridge. Although the squirrel is so tiny, it wanted to help Lord Rama. Hence it went to the sea and took a dip in the water, after which it rolled on the sand, ran to the bridge and shook itself, so that the sand particles fell on the bridge. Lord Rama was so touched by the squirrel’s devotion that He lovingly caressed it by stroking His fingers. The squirrel attained liberation due to the Divine touch of Lord Rama.

In the following stanza the composer states, ‘O Lord Rama, my father, I lovingly believe that in this world, you have transformed a stone into a woman (Ahalya).’ Ahalya was cursed by her husband, Gautama Rishi to turn into a stone. Lord Rama along with His brother went to the forest to assist Sage Vishwamitra by destroying the demons and to protect the sages. At that time His divine feet touched the stone, and miraculously, Ahalya regained her original form.

In the next stanza the poet implores ‘O my divine father, no matter how much I plead with you, I do not receive even an iota of compassion from you. Please do not be stubborn with me, and do shower Your grace on me as I am an ordinary person.’

In the concluding stanza the composer surrenders himself totally to the Lord, ‘O divine Father, You have been conferred the title Sharanagaththraana, (the refuge of the devotees), hence You have to shower your mercy on me, O protector of Bhadrachala Ramadasu.’

This song is always evergreen. The latest renditions by Utthara and Unni Krishnan and also by Rahul Vellal affirms the fact that this song is immortal, and well received even today. While listening to this song, the Rasikas, also share the proximity, which Ramadasu had enjoyed with Lord Rama and they become one with the Lord.

Yamuna is a resident of Coimbatore and is pursuing Hindustani vocal music under the tutelage of Shri Kedar Karatji . She also teaches bhajans and conducts English Grammar classes for school children . Her other passions are writing travelogs , playing keyboard , gardening , going on pilgrimages and exploring & enriching her knowledge through travel.