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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Praying Sree Ramapiran at Ontimitta .. .. 'బంటు రీతి కొలు'

 

The Greatest of Ithihasa purana   ‘Sri Ramayanam’  is the undiluted history of the Greatest Person who descended on this Universe, on the banks of river Sarayu, in a prosperous country called ‘Koshala’.   

நற்பண்புகள் அனைத்துக்கும் சிகரம் ஸ்ரீராமபிரான்.  அற்புதமான நகரம் திரு அயோத்தி.  தசரத சக்ரவர்த்திக்கு இக்ஷ்வாகு குலத்தனமாம் இராமனும் இலக்குவண பரத சத்ருக்கணனும் பிறந்த  செய்தியை அரசவை காவலர்கள்  யானைமீதேறி முரசறைந்து அறிவித்தனர்.  மக்கள் அளக்கமுடியாத இன்பம் கொண்டனர்.

 


Sree Rama Navami – is  the day on which Lord Sri Ramachandramurthy,  the supreme avatar of Maryada Purush  was born in the blessed land of Ayodhya.  Lord Rama descended on earth for the purpose of upholding righteousness and rewarding virtue.  Among the thousands of temple dedicated to Him – some that readily come to mind could be :  Thiru Ayodhya, Chitrakoot, Badrachalam, Rameswaramn, Thriparayar, Thillaivilagam, Vaduvur, Maduranthakam, Thiru pullampoothangudi, Thiruvelliyangudi,   .. … … and more.   This is not a post on any divyadesam but on a beautiful ancient temple associated with Lord Sree Rama.  



Carnatic music to us is all about keerthanas sung by Vocalitsts and instruments such as Violin, Mridangam, Kadam, Veena as accompaniments .. .. ever heard Cajon ?  - read it to be  a popular percussion instrument.   Sheets of 13 to 19 mm (1/2 to 3/4 inch) thick wood are generally used for five sides of the box. A thinner sheet of plywood is nailed on as the sixth side, and acts as the striking surface or head. The striking surface of the cajón drum is commonly referred to as the tapa. A sound hole is cut on the back side. The modern cajón may have rubber feet, and has several screws at the top for adjusting percussive timbre. Bizarre it sounds, but the sound of music is enthralling. 

Bammera Pothana (1450–1510) was a Telugu poet best known for his translation of the Bhagavata Purana from Sanskrit to Telugu. He was a Telugu and Sanskrit Scholar. His work, Andhra Maha Bhagavatamu, is popularly called as Pothana Bhagavatam in Telugu.  He is associated with this place.

For sure, you have heard many famous singers singing this Thiyagaraja keerthana ‘ Bantu reethi kolu ’ - In this beautiful keerthana , Sri Thyagaraja swamy pleads with Lord Rama to give him the post of a sentinel  for Sree Rama. The symbolic meaning is that he always wants to be in His presence always (just as Sri Kulasekara Azhwar pleaded Lord Venkateswara to be in holy Thirumala and infront of Lord Thiruvengadamudaiyan)

బంటు రీతి కొలువీయ వయ్య రామ

తుంట వింటి వాని మొదలైన  !  మదాదుల బట్టి నేల కూలజేయు నిజ

రోమాంచమనే, ఘన కంచుకము ! రామ భక్తుడనే, ముద్రబిళ్ళయు

రామ నామమనే, వర ఖఢ్గమి ! విరాజిల్లునయ్య, త్యాగరాజునికే

 

baNTu rIti koluv(i)yya(v)ayya rAma

tuNTa viNTi vAni modalaina mad(A)dula ! goTTi nEla gUla jEyu nija (baNTu)

rOmAncam(a)nu ghana kancukamu ! rAma bhaktuD(a)nu mudra biLLayu

rAma nAmam(a)nu vara khaDgamivi ! rAjillun(a)yya tyAgarAjunikE (baNTu)

 



O Lord Rama, as an orderly sentry,  Into your service, may I gain entry, O Lord rAma! Bestow on me (Thigayya) the privilege (“kolu”) of being in Your service as a servitor (“Bantu rIti”). In the Anupallavi, Sri Thyagaraja Swamy says that, the guard’s post should be such that he is empowered to destroy all the demons which are Arishadvargas (Arishad Vargas are the six passions of the mind: Kama - lust, craze, desire; Krodha - anger, hatred; Lobha - greed, miserliness, narrow minded; Moha - delusory emotional attachment; Mada or Ahankara - pride, stubborn mindedness; and Matsarya - envy, jealousy, show or vanity, and pride) and since the guard is empowered to do so, he needs such a guard's post.

For those interested in Carnatic music here is a rendition by Dr PN Prabhavathy, accompanied by Cajon.    The word cajon is literally Spanish for box (drawer, crate, even coffin), and the cajon as a drum shows up in many cultures, on several continents, and over generations of time. have never seen or heard this instrument, leave along imagine it to be part of a Carnatic song rendition.  The Peruvian cajon in its purist form is a six-sided instrument, with a sound hole cut into the back panel. The front panel, or tapa, is made from thin wood for resonance, leaving the other five sides to provide the structure. The sound is dry, the root tone is bass, and its primary role is as an accompaniment instrument.  


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XjiBPxJpBo

 

Those used to travel by train in the Chennai – Mumbai rail line, would have got out at this station Cuddapah after Renigunta and perhaps could even have observed a small station called Vontimita slipping by. Kadapa, a place normally associated with faction fights, bombs and violence. Thanks to countless Telugu films, Kadapa has come to mean, fierce looking, scowling factionists, who hurl bombs, kill people without batting an eyelid and eat red hot chillies for fun.

Though this is what perhaps Telegu tinseldom has portrayed – Kadapa is the birth place of Tallapaka Annamayya who composed all those wonderful keertanas in tribute to Lord Venkateswara.  Kadapa district (formerly: Cuddapah) is one of the thirteen districts of Andhra Pradesh. It is also one of the four districts in the Rayalaseema region of the state.  Kadapa has historical importance since BC era. It was ruled by the Mauryan Empire and the Satavahana Empire (Andhras). It was part of the area ceded to the British by Nizam. The District was formed by splitting the Ceded Districts into two in 1808 during the British rule, the other district being Bellary.  The British spelt the district as Cuddapah. The district is part of Rayalaseema, commemorating the name of Rayulu (Kings) of the Vijayanagar Empire, who ruled the area in the 16th century.  






The old records of the district reveal that Kadapa previously called Gadapa which means in Telugu language threshold. The ancient village of Kadapa with its large tank and temple of Lord Venkateswara at Devuni Kadapa was convenient camping place for the myriads of pilgrims travelling to the holy shrine of Tirupathi.  Devotees would first visit Devuni Kadapa, before going to Tirupathi to pray to Saint Annamacharya and Saint Potuluri Veera Brahmam who foretold the future and advocated a classless society. The ancient temple at Vontimitta which inspired Pothana to compose Andhra Maha Bhagavatham is also in the district. In the olden days Kadapa was also called "Hiranyanagaram". According to puranas, the big temple at Vontimitta – was   constructed by two devotees named ‘Vontudu’ and ‘Mittudu’ who were once burglars and were transformed into devotees of Lord Rama. After constructing the  temple, they sacrificed their lives and turned into statues.

Kishkindakanda one of the 7 kandas of the Ramayana is believed to have occurred in this region.   The beautiful Moolavar vigrahams of  Sree  Rama, Lakshmana and Sita in the garbhagriha of the temple are  carved from a single rock. Saint-poet Tallapaka Annamacharya  visited the place and sung in praise of the deity in his keerthanas.  It is -  Vontimitta, village in Vontimitta mandal of Rajampeta revenue division.  At Vontimitta stands the imposing Sree Kodandarama Temple,    an example of Vijayanagara architectural style, darting back to  16th century.   It is located at a distance of 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Kadapa and is close to Rajampet.  

The temple, the largest in the region is built in Vijayanagara style of architecture, in the "Sandhara" order within a rectangular yard enclosed by walls. The temple,  is architecturally elegant and impressive. It has three ornate Gopurams (towers) of which the central tower, which faces east, is the entrance gateway to the temple; the other two towers face north and south. This central tower is built in five tiers, and a number of steps are provided to access the approach gate of the tower.

The mandapa or the Rangamantapam, the open-air theatre, has exquisite sculptures. As the mandapa is supported over 32 pillars it is known as Madhyarangaradapam.  The colonnades in the mandapa have carved figurines of attendant apsaras (nymphs).  The roof of the central part is built up with many decorative brackets or corbels. The sanctum sanctorum or garbhagriha is approached from the mandapa through an antaraalayam or inner chamber, which is adorned with sculptures.  In the garbhagriha, stands most beautiful Sree Rama, His consort Seetha devi and Lakshmana.  Opposite to the temple is a separate temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.







The Administration of the Temple is with the  Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD).  After the carving out of Telengana, Sree Rama navami,hitherto officially celebrated by Govt of Andhrapradesh in Bhadrachalam is not celebrated at Vontimitta as Bhdarachalam is now in Telengana.   As the surge of Covid-19 cases continued in state, several temples under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), including this  famous Vontimitta Kodandarama temple in Kadapa, have been  shut down for devotees from 23.4.2021. For now the temple is closed and would not allow  devotees till May 15, 2021.

We had very good darshan at this beautiful temple, returning after Nava Narasimha darshanam at Sri Ahobilam.

adiyen Srinivasa dhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli Srinivasa dhasan
25.4.2021. 

PS : the photos of  Uthsavar & Thirumanjanam taken from the site of ‘GoTirupathi.com’ – rest were taken during my visit.





















1 comment:

  1. அற்புதமான இந்த கோயில் நான் கேட்டறியாதது. தகவல்கள் மிகவும் விரிவாக உள்ளன. நன்றி.

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