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Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya (శ్రీ తాళ్ళపాక అన్నమాచార్య) or Annamayya (May 9, 1408-February 23, 1503) was the official songmaster of the Tirumala Venkateswara Templemarker, and a Telugu composer who composed thousands of kirthana songs, many of which were in praise of the primary deity of that temple, Lord Venkateswara. The musical form of the kirthana songs that he composed have strongly influenced the structure of Carnatic music compositions, which are still popular among Carnatic music concert artists. Annamacharya is remembered for his saintly life, and is honoured as a spiritual giant by devotees and singers.

He is widely regarded as the Pada-kavita Pitaamaha (grand old man of song-writing) of the Telugu language. .

Personal life

Annamacharya was born on Vaisakha Suddha Pournami in the year Sarwadhari (May 9, 1408) in Tallapaka, a remote village in current day Kadapamarker district of Andhra Pradeshmarker, Indiamarker. His wife, Thimmakka, had written Subhadra Kalyanam, and is considered the first female poet in Telugu literature. Their son, Pedda Tirumalayyangar, and grandson, Tallapakam Chinnayya, were also composers and poets. The Talapakkam compositions are considered to have dominated and influenced the structure of Carnatic music compositions. Annamacharya lived for 95 years until Phalguna Bahula Dwadasi (12th day after full moon) in the year Dhundhubhi (February 23, 1503).

Literary career

Annamacharya is said to have composed as many as 32,000 sankeertanas (songs) on Lord Venkateswara, of which only about 13,000 are available today. His sankeertanas are of two kinds - spiritual and erotic, the majority being erotic in nature. His spiritual songs are based on the Vishishtadvaita school of thought. Annamayya was educated in this system of Ramanuja by Sri Sathagopa Yateendra of the Ahobila matham.

In his spiritual songs, he dwells on the subjects such as morality, dharma and righteousness. His erotic songs worship Lord Venkateswara by describing his amorous and romantic adventures, a tradition now known as Madhura Bhakti. Most of these songs describe the adventures of Venkateswara and Alamel Manga, while others describe the Bhakti of Krishna's devotees.

He was one of the first few who opposed the social stigma towards the untouchable castes in his era, with his sankeertanas explaining that the relationship between God and human is the same irrespective of the latters' color, caste and financial status, in beautiful yet powerful usage of words in his song "Brahmam Okkate Parabrahmam Okkate..."

His choice of words gives a mellifluous tone to his songs, charming the listener. His prodigious literary career earned him a place among the all-time greats of Telugu literature.

According to legend, Annamacharya had met with Purandara Dasa, both whom had composed music and lyrics. They met when Annamacharya had invited Purandara Dasa to join him in singing priase.

While enjoying popularity in his own days, his compositions were forgotten for over three centuries for some inexplicable reason. They were later found engraved on copper plates, hidden for centuries inside the Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumalamarker.

Annamacharya considered his compositions as floral offerings to God. In the poems, he praises Venkateswara, describes his love for him, argues and quarrels with the Lord, confesses the devotee's failures and apprehensions, and surrenders himself to Venkateshwara. His songs are classified into the Adhyaatma (spiritual) and Sringaara (romantic) sankeertanas genres.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, also known as TTD, has been endeavouring to preserve the rich heritage of his compositions .Garimella Balakrishna Prasad (born 9 November 1948) set the musical tune for more than 600 Annamacharya songs. He has been the Asthana Gayaka of the Tirumala temple at Tirupati since 1983. He is regarded as a pioneer in rendering devotional music in classical style, especially the Annamacharya sankirtanas. He composed tunes for famous keerthanas such as Vinaro Bhagyamu Vishnukatha, Jagadapu Chanuvula and Pidikedu Thalambralu... which became popular among the devotees.

The sankeertanas engraved on copper plates were found in the Tirumala temple just opposite the Hundi, concealed in a very small room. It is said only 12,000 of the 32,000 sankeertanas were found. No leads have been available to trace the remaining sankeertanas. Some personnel involved in deciphering the plates say that the people of those days could have melted the copper plates for personal use.

World record

In the programme, LakshaGala Sankirthanarchana, some 160,000 people sang seven Annamayya keertanas in Hyderabadmarker, creating a new Guinness record on May 10, 2009.

Notes

  1. Jackson , p265
  2. Jackson , p265
  3. Jackson , p216
  4. Jackson , p105
  5. Jackson , p265
  6. Source of his history: http://www.svasa.org/annamacharya1.html
  7. http://www.hindu.com/2008/05/23/stories/2008052355870100.htm
  8. http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/edu/2009/04/06/stories/2009040651420200.htm
  9. Jackson , p216
  10. http://www.hindu.com/2007/05/04/stories/2007050404030200.htm
  11. http://www.hindu.com/fr/2008/11/14/stories/2008111451360600.htm
  12. http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/2000/07/14/stories/10140906.htm
  13. http://www.hindu.com/2005/02/05/stories/2005020515030300.htm
  14. Jackson , p265
  15. Jackson , p265
  16. http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/StoryPage.aspx?sectionName=HomePage&id=3088426a-b2d9-449f-b259-b83adab22c69&Headline=160,000+singers+in+Hyderabad+set+new+world+record+by+singing+in+chorus


References

  • Jackson, William. ‘Religious and Devotional Music: Southern Area’ (1999). In


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