YSR KADAPA: The annual Brahmotsavams at Sri Kodanda Rama Swamy Temple at Vontimitta in YSR Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, also known as Andhra Bhadradri, started on April 10 and will end on the 18th of this year. The 16th century temple is built in the Vijayanagara architectural style and the famous Sri Kodanda Rama Swamy varu is the presiding deity. The Rama Navami celebrations which were previously celebrated at Bhadrachalam in former Andhra Pradesh were moved to Telangana after the bifurcation. Vontimitta Kodandarama Swamy Temple was chosen as an alternative venue for official celebrations in 2015 and is under the administrative control of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Council. The government of Andhra Pradesh has declared the Vontimitta Lord Rama as its official deity.
At this point, it is worth remembering the efforts of Vavilikolanu Subba Rao or Andhra Valmiki or Vaasu Daasa Swami, a Sanskrit scholar thanks to whom the temple was restored at the beginning of the 20and century.
Subba Rao was a famous Telugu poet known by the epithet Andhra Valmiki. He was the first Telugu scholar to translate the Sanskrit version of Valmiki Ramayana into Telugu titled “Mandaram” and dedicated it to Lord Rama at Vontimitta.
He was born on January 23, 1863 in Jammalamadugu to Ramachandra Rao and Kanakamba, and his wife’s name was Ranganayakamma. In 1883 he joined the office of Proddatur Taluka as a clerk and was promoted to Inspector of Revenue and served in the Revenue Department until 1900. In 1904 he joined the Madras Presidency College as a Lecturer in Telugu. After retiring from his teaching post in Chennai in 1920, he returned to Vontimitta.
It is said that he had a dream while staying at a choultry in Ghatikachalam where he was told to renovate the Lord Ram temple in Vontimitta. The Kodandaramalayam fell into a state of despair after the hundreds of acres of land given for the welfare of Rama’s temple by the early kings were slowly usurped. Because of this, at some point, offering naivedya to Lord Rama in the temple became very difficult.
Subba Rao then took up the matter and decided to improve the outlook of the temple on his own. It is said that he had begged door to door across the state with a coconut as a begging bowl to raise money for the temple. Using these funds, he restored Vontimitta Temple to its former glory and kept nothing for himself and gave the entire amount for the development of Rama Temple.
He took Sanyasa deeksha in the 1920s and went by the name Vasudaasa Swami. Subba Rao breathed his last on August 1, 1936 in Chennai and his house was also donated to the Vontimitta Rama Temple.
He also wrote many works like Ramayana, Sri Krishnalilamritham, Dwipada Bhagavad Gita, Andhra Vijayam, Dandakatrayam, Tenkayachippa Shatakam, Potana Nikethana Charcha, Sriramanuthi, Kausalya Parinayam. In a meeting chaired by Bellary Raghava, Telugu scholars conferred the title of Andhra Valmiki on Vavilikolanu Subba Rao.
The Telugu poet Bammera Potana also stayed in Vontimitta and wrote his magnum opus Maha Bhagavatham and dedicated it to Rama. The poet saint Tallapaka Annamacharya is said to have visited the temple and composed songs in praise of Rama here.
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