Bhadrachala Ramadasu (Kancharla Gopanna) who lived during 1620-1680 CE, was arrested by Abdullah Qutb Shah in 1662 CE and released by Tana Shah in 1674 CE.
Tyagaraja composed a song in early 19th century which made popular a story that Lord Rama and Lakshmana came to Tanashah as Ramoji and Lakshmoji at midnight to pay dues and release Ramadasu.
Kancharla Gopanna (Telugu : కంచర్ల గోపన్న), populaly known as Bhadrachala Ramadasu was born in Nelakondapalli village of Khammam district (erstwhile Hyderabad State and present Telangana).
He was the nephew of the Madanna and Akkanna brothers who were ministers at the court of both Abdullah Qutb Shah and his successor son-in-law Abul Hasan Qutb Shah (Tana Shah) of the Qutb Shahi Dynasty in Golconda.
Gopanna was hired as the Tehsildar of Palvancha Taluk around 1660 CE by Abdullah Qutb Shah, who ruled Golconda during 1626–1672 CE.
According to Valmiki Ramayana, in the Treta Yuga, Rama (avatar of the god Vishnu), along with his wife Seetha and brother Lakshmana, stayed in the Dandaka forest (present Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra, Chattisgarh) as a part of their fourteen-year exile.
Legend has it that the son of Meru and Menaka, Bhadra, performed penances towards Rama here and Rama appeared to him at this place along with Seetha and Lakshmana.
During mid 17th century CE, Pokala Dhammakka, a tribal woman living in Bhadrareddypalem, found the central icon of Rama in an anthill. She dissolved the anthill using the water from the Godavari River. With the help of the villagers, Dhammakka constructed a mandapam (hall) and offered prayers to the deities.
Following Abdullah Qutb Shah’s orders, Gopanna enforced the Jaziya tax, a penalty designed to make Hindus pay for not adopting Islam. Observing the dilapidated state of the temple, Gopanna decided to build a temple for the deity by raising donations.
In the initial attempt, Gopanna received harsh criticism from the local Hindus for enforcing the tax.
Dejected by numerous rebuffs, Gopanna decided to use a portion of the tax collected to build the temple and face the consequences.
Abdullah Qutb Shah (1626-1672 CE)
The temple was built by Gopanna in 1662 CE with a cost of nearly six lakh varahas (coins).
Abdullah Qutb Shah summoned upon Gopanna, who had no proper answer for misusing kingdom’s funds.
He was thrown into jail to teach a lesson to others who try to misuse government funds.
Akkanaa and Madanna tried to convince the ruler, but he was firm on setting an example to everyone.
Gopanna, during his fund raising, charities and temple building was named as ‘Ramadasu’ (Servant of Rama) by by Kabirdas, a Muslim saint who was impressed with his work and devotion.
Ramadasu remained in Golconda jail during 1662-1674 CE.
During his regime, Abdullah Qutub Shah encouraged poets from all languages.
Carnatic musician Kshetrayya (1600–1680 CE) visited his court.
He lost multiple wars, except vellore in 1652 CE.
His army tried to sieze and destroy Tirumala temple in 1665 CE, which was negotiated by priests.
After Aurangzeb took control of Hyderabad during his father Shah Jahan’s regime, Abdullah Qutb Shah was restricted within Golconda fort.
After multiple negotiations, Abdullah’s daughter was married to Aurangzeb‘s eldest son, Muhammad Sultan Mirza in 1656 CE. She was his first wife, and so the chances of her progeny becoming Mughal emperor were great.
However, it did not happen as Auragzeb jailed his own son for supporting aurangzen’s elder brother Shah Shuja.
Sultan Mirza died in jail later.
Tana Shah (Abul Hasan Qutb Shah or Tanishah) (1672-1686 CE)
Abul Hasan was a distant relative of Abdullah Qutb Shah and was never focussed on education or learning warfare since his childhood.
He was leading a luxurious life at Golconda palace. At the age of 14, in a drunk state, he misbehaved with queen and was kicked out of palace.
He had nowhere to go, so joined a sufi saint Shahraz Qattal.
Shahraz let Abul Hasan stay with him, where Abul used to sing sufi songs everyday.
Moved by his sweet voice, innocent face and devotion at teenage, Shahraz named him as Tana Shah (Child Saint).
When Abul Hasan was in his 20s, Shahraz Qattal thought of blessing him with a luxurious life for serving his all through these years.
Shahraz proposed Abul Hasan’s marriage with Sultan Abdullah Qutb Shah’s 3rd daughter, for which Abdullah could not refuse.
As his son-in-law Sultan Mirza (Aurangzeb’s son) died in Jail, Abdullah Qutb Shah was looking for heir.
Abdullah had 3 daughter and his 2nd son-in-law Nizamuddin was from Mecca.
He wanted to get complete grip over Golconda and tried to get his aide Sayyed Ahmed to marry Abdullah Qutb Shah’s 3rd daughter. Engagement was also performed.
But after that, Sayyed Ahmed started behaving independently, which was not liked by Nizamuddin, who tried to cancel the engagement.
On the marriage day, Sayyed Ahmed was replaced on horse by Abul Hasan.
Sayyed Ahmed ran away to Aurangzeb and married his Subedar of Bengal, Mir Jumla II’s daughter to settle there.
Abul Hasan (Tana Shah) got married in 1660 CE and while he was back into the palace, his old habits of alchoholism and musical/dance concerts restarted.
This made many administrators get close to him.
He used his wife’s money to buy few soldiers and form a private army.
When Abdullah Qutb Shah was sick in 1672 CE, Tana Shah went to see him, but was stopped at entrace by Nizamuddin’s soldiers.
He complained to his close aide and commander-in-chief Sayyed Muzaffar, who arrested Nizamuddin and threw him in jail.
Without knowledge of all these developments, Abdullah Qutb Shah died in same year, which made Abul Hasan as default heir to the Golconda kingdom.
How Tana Shah became Tanishah
Tana Shah (Child Saint), now started ruling Golconda from 1672 CE and due to his brought up with sufi saint Shahraz Qattal, he was tolerant of all religions.
He donated 14 Jagirs to his sufi guru, which were rejected.
He promoted everyone who helped him reach this position.
Army chief Sayyed Muzaffar was made Prime Minister. One more commander inside fort, Moosa Khan who helped him with inside news, was made as army chief.
Sayyed Muzaffar had 2 secretaries in his office and they were Akkanna, Madanna.
When French attacked an island in Pulicat Lake (border of Andhra-Tamil Nadu), a local commander, Tupaki Krishna defeated them.
He also captured Santhome fort (present Mylapore, Chennai).
French, while negotiating about release of their fort, attacked Golconda’s ships and destroyed them.
Moosa Khan attacked them with huge army.
Muzaffar expected Moosa Khan to become a threat for his position. He called Moosa Khan back to Hyderabad abruptly and auditioned funds spent on this war.
Moosa khan got angry and attacked Muzaffar’s house.
Upon complaint of Muzaffar, Tana Shah got Moosa Khan arrested. This made Muzaffar think that Sultan is under his control.
When Muzaffar tried to advise Tana Shah about controlling expenses etc, differences erupted between them.
To control Muzaffar, Tana Shah promoted Madanna as Revenue Minister.
Madanna worked effienciently and earned sultan’s appraisal.
After few months, Sultan revealed about Muzaffar’s reality in court and removed him from prime minister post.
Instead of hanging him, he was sent as representative to a small province. Madanna was promoted as Prime Minister and his brother Akkanna was made Revenue Minister.
As Prime Minister, Madanna repoened mines and increased revenue.
Earlier, few zamindars were auctioning areas for collecting taxes. Later, they used to collect extra taxes and harrass farmers, businessmen.
Akkanna and Madanna abolished this system and appointed revenue collectors with fixed tax percentage system.
They also increased army strength to six lakh soldiers.
In next 2 years, they gained respect of people and sultan.
Due to good administration, Tana Shah was called as Tanishah (benevolent ruler). This Tanishah/Tanashah is wrongly interpreted as dictator these days.
His successors continued the title of Tanishah.
In 1674 CE, they proposed to Tana Shah to released their nephew Gopanna, who was in Jail for 12 years and promised to pay those 6 lakh Varahas he spent for building Bhadrachalam Temple in 1662 CE along with interest.
Benevolent Sutan (Tanishah) agreed for this proposal as Ramadasu never tried to escape jail and almost became a saint by singing bhajans about Lord Rama.
In 1674 CE, Akkanna and Madanna paid his debt and got him released.
RamaTanka Gold Coins given to Tana Shah are still in display at Bhadrachalam Temple.
Ramadasu was not in a position to think about how this happened. He lived in Bhadrachalam for another 6 years and died.
Already muslims in golconda court were unhappy with a hindu Madanna becoming prime minister. So, it is possible that Ramoji, Lakshmoji story was created to convince both Ramadasu and others.
The same story was shown in cinema and other media.
In early 19th century, Tyagaraja composed a kriti (song) Kshirasagara Sayana, and told this Ramoji, Lakshmoji story in the stanza Dhirudau Ramadasuni Bandhamu.
But people assume that Tanishah is one person and he jailed Gopanna for misuse of funds and later had darshan of Rama and Lakshmana in the form of Ramoji, Lakshmoji.
How will two strange youngsters enter a king’s palace under tight security at midnight, pay huge money and disappear !!
In the bhakti movement, history, dates and names were ignored.
Akkanna, Madanna were secretaries to prime minister during Abdullah Qutb Shah rule and their position only helped Gopanna get a post as Palvancha Tahsildar.
Only after they gained respect and faith of next Sultan Abul Hasan Qutub Shah (Tana Shah), and after Madanna became his prime minister, they could dare to ask for Ramadasu release.