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Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya

Courtesy: Google Images
Tallapaka Annamacharya popularly known as Annamayya is a mystic saint composer born in 1408 CE in a small village named Tallapaka in the present Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh. He was born in the Tallapaka family - a Telugu Brahmin family that popularized Vaishnavite faith in Andhra Pradesh during the 15th and 16th centuries and was well known for its poets, music composers and scholars in Telugu and Sanskrit languages.

He was one of the earliest known musicians of India to compose 32,000 songs known as 'sankeertanalu' in praise of Lord Venkateswara of Tirumala and dedicated these to Lord Venkateswara. His parents Narayana Suri and Lakkamamba did not have progeny for a long time. To seek the blessing of Lord Venkateswara, they visited Tirumala and while prostrating before the Dhwaja Sthambham - The Holy Mast in front of the temples - a dazzling light from the sword of Lord Venkateswara struck them and eventually a baby boy was born to the couple whom they named Annamayya.

Saint Annamayya known as the 'Toli Telugu Vaggeyakara' or the first lyricist, composer and singer of the Telugu literature. He is believed to be the incarnation of Hari Nandaka Khadgam or the celestial sword of Lord Vishnu. He spent most of his life in composing songs or 'keertanas' and 'padams' on Lord Venkateswara in Telugu language and is regarded as 'Telugu  Pada Kavita Pitamaha' - the Grand Old man of Poetry who lived for 95 years

Besides composing 32,000 Sankeertanas on Lord Venkateswara and Alamelu Manga (Goddess Padmavati and wife of Lord Venkateswara), Saint Annamayya also authored 12 Satakas, Ramayana in the form of Dwipada Sankeertana Lakshnam, Sringara Manjari and Venkatachala Mahatyam. Most of his works were in Telugu and Sanskrit languages. Annamayya wrote his Sankeertanas and works on palm leaves and later these were engraved on copper plates by his son Tirumalacharya and grandson China Tirumalacharya. These plates are treasured in Sankeertana Bhandaram - a rock-built cell opposite the Hundi at Lord Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala and this remained unnoticed for over 400 years.

Courtesy: Annamayya.org
Greatly impressed by Annamayya's compositions, King Saluva Narasinga Raya of Penugonda invites Annamayya to his court and offers him a respectable position. Annamayya happens to sing a Srigara Rasa (romantic) song on Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Padmavati which inspires the King who eventually orders Annamayya to compose a similar romantic song on him and his wife.

Annamayya who dedicated his life and compositions to Lord Venkateswara, refuses the King's order and steps out from the court. 

Annamayya Keertanas 

'Adivo Alladivo Sri Harivasamu' which was composed spontaneously in ecstasy at the very sight of the sacred Hills of Tirumala, is one of his foremost and most popular compositions. Basically Annamayya compositions were in local folk lore which were later given the classic tune by many great classical musicians of South India.

Most of his compositions comprised of Adhyatma or spirituality while his earlier keertanas were based on Sringara (romance) rasa that were composed on the divine love of Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Padmavati. Annamayya was given the position of Asthana (court) singer at Lord Venkateswara temple in Tirumala and he used to sing in various occasions and festivals in the temple.

'Jo Atchutananda Jo Jo Mukunda' which was / is sung during Pavalimpa Seva (bed-time) of the Lord has gained tremendous popularity. 'Pidikita Tambrala Pellikuturu' is yet another wonderful composition which is sung during Kalyanotsavam (marriage fesitval) of Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Padmavati. 'Ksheerabdi Kanyakaku' is one of his most popular compositions that is sung at the time of Haarati / Aarti.

There are hundreds of his compositions that gained much popularity and is sung in various occasions. There are no sufficient words to describe the greatness of this great Saint Poet of Andhra Pradesh who breathed his last in 1503 CE at the feet of Lord Venkateswara and reached the heavenly abode of Vaikuntham.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) had set up a project named Annamayya Project in view of preserving the great works of Annamayya and promote Bhakti Bhavam (spirituality) among the public.

Some of his greatest compositions include:
  1. Muddugare Yasoda
  2. Devuniki Devikini
  3. Bhavamulona Bahyamunanduna
  4. Ksheerabdi Kanyakaku
  5. Kattedura Vaikuntham
  6. Annimantramulu Inde Avahinchenu
  7. Kondalalo Nelakonna
  8. Podaganti Mayya Mimmu
  9. Sevimparo Janulala Cheri Mokkaro
  10. Brahmamokkate Parabrahmamokkate
  11. Devadevam bhaje

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