Several Lyrics are picked from the electronic files on annamAcAri
saMkIrtana supplied by several people. I thank them very much for the
help. The Tirupathi Devasthanam Published 45 volumes in Telugu, each
containing approximately 500 lyrics. I have with me 4 volumes and I am
trying to get some more volumes. In this webpage, I incorporated only
those lyrics (from the electronic files supplied by several), which I
could verify with the TTD publications in my possession. Please do not
take this as an offence for not incorporating all the lyrics from the
Several people assisted me in providing the transliteration of SrI
annamAcArya lyrics and I thank them profusely.
Story Of SrI Tallapaka annamAcArya
Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya (1408 - 1503)
Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya (also known as annamayya), is a mystic
saint composer of the 15th century. He is the earliest known musician of
South India to compose songs called "samkeertanas" in praise of Lord
Venkateswara, the deity of the Seven Hills in Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh,
India. He is widely regarded as the "Telugu Pada Kavita Pitaamaha"
(Grand Old Man of Simple Poetry). Annamacharya was born on Vaisakha
Suddha Pournami in the year Sarwadhari (May 9, 1408) in Tallapaka, a
remote village in current day Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh,
India. He lived immaculately for 95 years until Phalguna Bahula Dwadasi
(12th day after full moon) in the year Dhundhubhi (February 23, 1503).
His wife, Thimmakka, was also a poet, and had written Subhadra Kalyanam,
and is considered the first Telugu woman poet. His son
PeddaTirumalacharya is also a well-known vaggeyakara. He took the
Ramanuja saampradayam, with the blessings of Sri Sathagopa Yateendra of
the Ahobila Mutt. Annamacharya composed about 32,000 samkeertanas on
Lord Venkateswara, and the 'Sri Alamelumanga Sri Venkateswara Satakam'
Annamacharya is to be reckoned as the first among the hymnographers
in Telugu, not only from the view point of chronology but also for his
superb artistry and range of feeling and thought. He was a pioneer in
the field who could handle both amorous and devotional strains with
equal felicity. The eroticism evident in Kshetrayya’s love lyrics and
Thyagaraja’s rapturous praises of the glories of Rama are undoubtedly
reminiscent of Annamayya’s treatment of these elements in his hymns.
The synthesis of Vishnu of the Rigveda with the cosmic god Narayana
of the Brahmana’s and then with the popular deity Vasudeva Krishna in
due course resulted in the emergence of Vaishnavism. The religion holds
Vishnu to be the supreme god and devotion to him the main objective of
human existence. According to Vaishnava theology descent or incarnation
is only one of the five forms through which Vishnu manifests himself. In
the ‘para’ transcendent form he is Vasudeva, the supreme being, beyond
the reach of human experience. The ‘vyuha’ emanative form is his
functional manifestation as a creator, sustainer and destroyer of the
Universe. The ‘vibhava’ incarnate aspect is related to his descent into
the world in physical form. In the ‘antaryamin’, immanent form he dwells
in the hearts of all beings regulating their feelings. And finally in
the ‘archa’, iconic form he becomes easily accessible to his devotees
and receives ritualistic worship from them in temples and homes.
Among the five, ‘archa’ is the most sought after form by devotees as
it enables them to enjoy the beauty and splendour of the Lord here and
now. That is why several saint poets have expressed their wish to be
born again and again in the mortal world if only to experience the bliss
of beholding Vishnu in their favourite iconic form. The medium favoured
by all these saint poets to worship their favourite deity was a song or
‘samkeertana’, as it is the most effective medium to reach god in
Kaliyuga. It also appeals to the imagination and interest of the common
man, amongst whom these saint poets wished to propagate their path of
Bhakti or devotion.
Annammayya pioneered singing of pada or samkeertana in Telugu
language. Annamayya started composing lyrics at the age of sixteen, when
he was fascinated by his devotion to Lord Venkateswara. This devotion is
called 'Madhura Bhakti' or ‘godlove’ in which the devotee is the beloved
or ‘preyasi’ or jeevatma and the ‘Lord God’ is the supreme hero or
Paramaatma. Alamelmanga and Venkateswara represent Radha and Krishna in
Vaishnava parlance and they stand for ‘Prakriti and Purusha’ in Samkhya
terminology. The same divine pair represent ‘Sakti and Siva’ in Saiva
After the Saivite Naayanars of 3rd Century and Vaishnavite Alwars
between 7th and 12th Century, we have Annamacharya, the earliest
composer of lyrics in Telugu in the 15th Century. Annamacharya was
greatly influenced by the legacy of the God intoxicated poet composers,
the Alwars. The term Alwar means, “one who is immersed”. In the present
context it denotes an ardent devotee ever immersed in God. Twelve such
devotees of Vishnu who lived between the sixth and ninth century in the
Tamil speaking region of South India are traditionally recognized as the
Alwars. The Alwars are held in such high veneration by the Vaishnavas
that each of the 108 places they sang about have consequently regarded
as a divine place. Annamacharya was well acquainted with the hymns of
the Alwars for at least two reasons, one, he was himself a latter-day
Alwar. Secondly, the foremost exponent of the Vishishtadvaita school of
Vaishnivism, Ramanuja, rightly thought that “The real proof of the being
of God is the being in God” and accepted the utterances of the Alwars as
authoritative as the word of God in the Vedas.
As a convert to the Vishishtadvaita sect, Annamacharya had devoted
many years to the study of its theology. Therefore he shared the
emotional mysticism of the Alwars as well as their intense love for the
God of the seven hills. Be it Alwars of the 7th to 12th Century,
Jayadeva of the 11th Century, Chandidas, Vidyapati or Annamayya, they
followed composing lyrics of God love with predominance of eroticism in
their compositions. Their songs had a desi milieu and deserved no
reproof from any quarter. Those were the "limits of permissiveness" as
observed by the liberators, painters and architects as part of the
Indian ethos of the middle ages.
To study the life of any human being it is essential to first look
into the socio-cultural and spiritual ethos of the period, as the life
and work produced by the person are intricately woven together and in
most cases, the particulars of the life can only be pieced together from
the legacy of poetic lyrics left behind. Hence, we have to make an
effort to look at the cultural, spiritual ethos of the period before
actually going into a chronological account of the life of Annamacharya.
Popular accounts of the lives of saints freely blend fiction with
fact and invest ordinary natural events with the shades of miracles. It
is not therefore surprising that descriptions of some miraculous events
should find a place in the earliest biographical account of the poet
saint Annamacharya. A poetical work in Telugu titled ‘Annamacharya
Charitram’ was written by his grandson, Chinna Tiruvengalanadha,
popularly known as Chinnanna. It has however much value as history for
two reasons. Chinnanna gathered information about the main events in his
Grandfather’s life from the members of his family, and he composed the
poem when people who were acquainted with the saint were still alive and
it received their approval. Annamacharya’s period has almost unanimously
been specified to be between 1408-1507 A.D. Annamacharya was born of
Nadavaraka Brahmin parents in Tallapaka, a somnolent hamlet situated not
far from Tirupati, in early fifteenth century, most probably on 22nd May
1408. His fore fathers obviously acquired the name ‘Tallapaka’ from
their association with the village for long. Though Annamacharya’s
parents Narayana Suri and Lakkamamba belonged to the smartha seet whose
adherents hold Siva and Vishnu in equal veneration. It is said that
desiring a male child the parents of Annamayya went on pilgrimage to the
shrine of Venkateswara on top of the hill Venkatadri and met with an
unusual experience. Within the precincts of the temple they saw in a
vision, the ‘nandaka’ sword, and in due course were blessed with a son
in answer to their prayers.
The story about the mystic vision of Nandaka sword and the subsequent
birth of Annamayya is in consonance with the traditional belief of the
Vaishnavas that their saints are embodiments of the objects and
attendants of Vishnu in Vaikuntha. Periyalvar was considered as an
incarnation of Garuda and Poygai Alwar of Panchajanya Shankha.
Annamacharya like Nammalwar was born under the star, vishakha in the
Vaishakha month and both miraculously received spiritual enlightenment
at the age of 16.
The boy Annamayya appears to have been quite bright in his studies
and his songs bear sufficient testimony to the fact that he had received
sound instruction in classical learning at an early age. It appears that
he grew weary of the ways of the world when he was only a boy of 8
years. During his childhood he was given several chores by his parents
and relatives which he detested. There is a Samkeertana indicating this:
which indicates that his life was getting wasted on mundane and
meaningless tasks. At the age of 16 Annamayya saw a vision of Lord
Venkateswara and these lyrics burst forth in his ecstasy as mentioned by
One day when he was sent to cut grass, he
observed a happy band of pilgrims on their way to Tirupati. They were
singing songs of the Lord, and the temptation to follow them was
irresistible to Annamayya. He left his village and family and followed
the pilgrims all the way to Tirupati. From Tirupati he started early
morning and visited Narasimha Swami, Talayerugundu, Peddayekkudu,
Kapurapungalu and reached Mokkallaparvata by evening. After crossing a
tamarind tree in Talayerugundu he came across the ‘sripadas’.
Peddayekkudu was very difficult to climb, a culvert called
Karpurapungalavu comes before reaching the mokaalla parvata, the water
there was said to be very fragrant. As a custom, the mokaalla parvata
should be climbed with the knees. Legend goes that, without realizing it
Annamayya climbed the mountain with his slippers and was unable to go
any further due to exhaustion, when Alamelumanga appeared before him in
the guise of an old woman and advised him to give up the slippers. She
gave him divyaprasadam and disappeared at which point he recited
spontaneously a satakam on Alamelumanga:
Annamacharya then reached Tirupati safely.
He visited the Swamy Pushkarini and recited several songs. On finally
having darshanam of his Lord, he recited a song expressing his joy at
finally being able to see in person the peerless form of his beloved
He composed several lyrics on the greatness
of the Lord, and his ‘abhaya hastam’. In Annamayya’s songs he makes
several references to ‘Guru’, but it is obscure as to who he exactly may
have been. One feels due to the songs and legends, that it was Lord
Venkateswara himself in the guise of a learned man who advised Annamayya
to go back home and have a family. A particular song expresses this idea
that it was only Lord Venkateswara who was Annamacharya’s true Guru
Yet another verse shows in Annamacharya’s
own words that he has composed 32,000 songs in praise of this ‘Guru’ or
Sometime thereafter Annamayya returned to
his village and became a ‘grihastha’ (man with a family) by marrying two
girls, Tirumalamma and Akkalamma, in deference to the wishes of his
parents. Tirumalamma also known as Timmakka was herself a poet, who
wrote the narrative poem ‘Subhadra Kalyanamu’, and acquired the
distinction of being the first noteworthy woman poet in Telugu.
Annamayya visited many holy places and composed innumerable Sringara
sankeertanas on God. Ahobala Nrusimha Swamy himself is said to have
bestowed on Annamayya with ‘Tridandam’ and several mantras.
A strong urge to master the Visishtadvaita theology led Annamacharya
sometime after his marriage to seek the guidance of a reputed Vaishnava
preceptor of the age, Adivan Sathakopa yati, the founder of a mutt in
Ahobalam. He appears to have lived with his family there, spending
several years studying the scriptures of his sect especially the
collection of the hymns of the Alwars called ‘Divyaprabandham’ and the
Ramayana of Valmiki which is regarded by the Srivaishnavas as ‘Saranagati
Sastra’, treatise on self-surrender or ‘Prapatti’. Annamayya also learnt
Vedanta from Sathakopa yati. He is said to be the same Sathakopa muni
whom Sri Krishnadevaraya prays to in Aamuktamalyada. Annamayya served
him with the following lyrics.
At a very young age, Annamayya composed Ramayana in Samkeertana form.
The loftiness of his sentiments and felicity of his language, the
intensity of his devotion soon began to attract the attention of people
at large. When Saluva Narsinga Raya, who was then the chief of Tanguturu,
a town near Tallapaka, came to know about the saintliness of
Annamacharya, he approached the poet with great reverence and humbly
begged him to visit his place and stay there as his honoured guest.
Annamaya accepted to his request and stayed with him for some time.
Narasinga Raya began to thrive and prosper and soon rose to be the ruler
of the fort of Penugonda in the Vijayanagara Empire. At his invitation
Annamacharya went to Penugonda and stayed there for a while.” There is a
well known story in the context of Annamacharya’s stay at the court of
Saluva Narsinga Raya.
On a certain occasion Narsinga Raya
requested the poet to sing an erotic song on the deity. Annamacharya
obliged by reciting a fresh composition of his in which there is a
suggestive description of the teasing of the heroine by her friends when
she comes out of the bed-chamber after spending the night with her Lord.
Narsinga Raya was so deeply moved by the
luminous beauty of the song that in a state of euphoria he transcended
the bounds of propriety and requested the poet to compose a similar song
on him. Annamacharya was deeply offended by this request and plainly
told him that his gifts of music and poetry were dedicated to the
service of Hari and that he would never employ them to extol men.
Narasinga Raya was offended and in a fit of rage he ordered that the
poet should be bound with chains and locked up in prison. A song is
mentioned in this context:
Annamacharya contemplated the situation and his thoughts naturally
turned to the supreme saviour. He uttered a song impromptu, expressing
his unwavering faith in the Lord - “Aakati Velala”. At once the fetters
that bound him fell off. The awe-struck guards rushed to their master
and reported the miraculous happening. Narasinga Raya was overcome with
remorse when he realized the greatness of the saint and humbly sought
his forgiveness. Annamacharya did forgive him, but decided to eschew the
company of such worldlings and proceeded to Tirupati to live in peace.
It must be pointed out in this context, that in spite of their
association with men of affluence and power, even kings and emperors at
times, including Saluva Narsinga Raya who later became the ruler of
Vijayanagara Empire, Annamacharya and his descendants never wrote a song
or verse in honour of a mere mortal. Gifts and honours came to them
unsought, and they accepted prosperity and adversity, praise and insult
in a spirit of complete detachment, cherishing only Sri Venkateswara as
their precious treasure in the midst of inevitable vicissitudes of
In his last days Annamayya spent most of his time in Tirupati
organizing utsavas and pujas for the Lord. There he wrote a short
narrative poem entitiled "Sringara Manjari", describing the passionate
longing of a young girl for Sri Venkateswara and the fulfillment of her
wish. He also composed numerous songs that vividly describe the pomp and
spectacle, rituals and festivals associated with the shrine.
Annamacharya appears to have spent the last years of his life in
relative tranquility. Spending his time mostly at Tallapaka and Tirupati
by turns and participating in the annual Brahmotsava festival of Sri
Venkateswara without fail. He received several grants of land, besides
other gifts unasked, from his admirers and spent the income from those
sources quite lavishly in the service of the Lord by instituting new
festivities and food offerings.
From specific references in two poetical works ‘Sripadarenu Mahatyamu’
and ‘Sakuntala Parinayamu’ by one of his grandsons, Revanuri
Venkatacharya, It is learnt that Annamacharya performed the Kalyanotsava
of the godess Alamelmanga with Lord Venkateswara, assuming the position
of the bride’s father. In the past, Periyalwar had the honour of being
hailed by the Vaishnavas as the Lord’s father-in-law as he had performed
the marriage of his foster-daughter, Andal with Sri Ranganadha and
Annamacharya appears to have enjoyed the same distinction among his
contemporaries with regard to Sri Venkateswara.
n consequence of his unceasing devotion to the Lord, he acquired
certain miraculous powers. Chinnanna mentions a particlar incident when
Narsimhadandanadha who attacked Vijayanagar was said to have given sour
mangoes to the Lord as naivedya. Annamayya’s one touch changed them to
sweet mangoes. There are some songs mentioned where common people are
said to have worshipped him as God. Songs composed in praise of
Annamacharya by his successors are also mentioned. One of the songs of
Peda Tirumalaacharya is:
Annamayya is said to have composed over 32,000 lyrics. Besides the
samkeertanas, he also composed Ramayana in Dwipada metre, Venkatachala
Mahatyam in Sanskrit, Twelve Satakams, several prabandhas, Sringara
Manjari and Sankeertana Lakshana in Sanskrit, which is now not
available. Annamacharya lived to a ripe old age, and could look back
with satisfaction on his extensive service as the cief hymnist of Sri
Venkateswara himself. It is known that he performed the Brahmopadesa to
one of his gransdons China Tirumalacharya, and according to reliable
inscriptional evidence, he entristed the sacred task of offering a fresh
hymn to the Lord every day to his son Peda Tirumalacharya, and passed
away on 23rd February in 1503.
Annamayya left behind him worthy successors who were great scholars
and poets in their own right. Peda Tirumalacharya was the son of
Akkalamma. His son was Chinna Tirumalacharya. Tirumalamma’s son,
Narsimhacharya, was also said to have been a great poet. Peda
Tirumalacharya assisted by Saluva Narasinga Raya was the one who started
the process of storing Annamayya’s songs on copper plates. He had many
poetical works to his credit. The contribution of the Tallapaka poets
was recognized by many poets of future generations. Annamacharya had
always regarded life as a theatrical show, full of pretences and vain
pursuits, as he says in one of his songs:
Never for a moment did he waver in his faith that attainment of the
realm of Vishnu should be the prime objective of human life. It is
certain that Annamacharya played his role in the theatrical show with
consummate skill, and when the appointed hour arrived, he made his final
exit from the stage with a profound sense of fulfillment.
Please note: The
transliterated Telugu lyrics in Devanagari script should be read as Sanskrit
lyrics to get the correct diction and words.
Unless the halaMtaM or virAm is specifically used in the transliterated Telugu
lyrics into Devanagari script, one should not apply the halaMtaM or virAm while
pronouncing the words in the lyrics unlike in Hindi.
Please note: while transliterating into
short form of "e"
(sounds like .. g e t )
is used to correctly reproduce Telugu. ex: ग् + ऎ = गॆ
.. g e t
( गॆट् )
short form of "o" (sounds
like .. d o nate )
is used to correctly reproduce Telugu. ex:
ड् + ऒ = डॊ
. . d o nate (
Of course usual long form of "E"
"ए" (like g a
te .. गेट् ) and long form of
( like v o te ..
are already part of the Devanagari script.
I really would like to provide
Transliteration of the lyrics in Tamil as well. But the constraints are:
1. I do not know Tamil script.
2. I do have to depend upon multi-language software like Baraha.com for
transliterating Telugu into other languages.
3. Tamil language got less number of Alphabets as compared to Devanagari/Hindi,
Kannada, and Malayalam Scripts.
4. If I send a command to the Baraha.com software to transliterate into
Tamil, Tamil will not map all Telugu Alphabets on one to one basis.
ex: "ka. kha, ga, gha" (of Telugu) will map all the four Alphabets into only
one Tamil Alphabet "ka" ........... etc.
I hope you understand what I am talking
about. The Telugu Lyric will not be correctly transliterated into Tamil.
I only hope one of these days, the Tamil software group develops Old
Granthic Tamil font which incorporates all the Alphabets in some way to map
all the Alphabets like in Telugu, Devanagari/Hindi, Kannada, and Malayalam.