Annamacharya and his devotion


Recently annamacharya jayanthi was celebrated on account of  604 year tirunakshatra (vaishaaka maasam visaaka nakshatram)of sri tallapaka annamacharya, a great vaggEyakaara devotee of lord tiruvEnkatamudaiyan, celebrations.

He was born as amsam of the divine sword (nandakam) of lord sri vekateshwara as the only son to smt. Lakamaamba and Sri Naarayana Soori dampathi’s, a religious brahmana couple, who lived in the village of tallapaka,near cuddapah in AP onvaishaka poornami day of the sarvadhari year (may 9,1408).

Annammayya pioneered singing of pada or sankeertana in Telugu language. Annamayya seems to have started composing lyrics at the age sixteen, when he was fascinated by his devotion to Lord Venkateshwara. Sri Annamacharya was a mystic poet and like azhwars, he delved deep in the ocean of divine love. His greatness lay in his songs being simple in language; yet profound in supreme thoughts as reflected by scriptures, epics and puranas.

Annamacharya was greatly influenced by the legacy of the God intoxicated poet composers, the Alwars.

Annamacharya was well acquainted with the hymns of the Alwars for at least reason 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.

AnnamAchArya’s songs are classified into two varieties

viz. SringAra (nAyikA bhAva) and adhyAtmika (other bhakti bhAvas + songs with philosophical bent).

His adhyAtma SankIrtanas are an eloquent tribute to  the concept of Prapatti emphasised by Ramanuja.

Annamacharya like Nammalwar was born under the star, vishakha in the Vaishakha month.

At the age of 16 Annamayya saw a vision of Lord Venkateshwara and these lyrics burst forth in his ecstasy as mentioned by Chinnanna.

“ippuditu kalaganti nellalokamulaku nappudagu tiruvenkatadreeshu ganti”, in which he says that he saw the divine vision of Lord Venkateshwara in his dream.

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 ad family and followed the pilgrims all the way to Tirupati. He reached the place in a few days. Unaware of the tradition that one should not climb up the hills with foot-wear on, he walked up but felt tired’ and asleep in the midway of the hill. While he was asleep the consort of Lord Venkateswara appeared in his dream and advised him to climb the hills barefooted. He wondered at the vision, he had. Overwhelmed with joy Annamayya composed one hundred stanzas extempore in praise of the Mother Goddess. As the stanzas were with the Makutamu of ‘Venkateswara ‘ it was later on known as, ‘Sri Venkateswara Sathakamu.’ Then he climbed up the hills, took his bath in the sacred Pushkarini, went to the temple and had darshan of Lord Venkateswara.

Ghana Vishnu was a great devotee of Lord Venkateswara. He was a Vaishnavite and was living in Tirumala. One day Lord Venkateswara appeared in his dream and told him about a dark complexioned boy named Annamayya who can be found singing His glory. Lord Venkateswara instructed Ghana Vishnu to take the boy into the fold of Vaishnavism. To help with the ritual, He gave him the metal marks of Shanka and Chakra. Ghana Vishnu found Annamayya at the Yaga Sala just the way the Lord had described; Annamayya was completely immersed in singing a composition on Lord Venkateswara. Ghana Vishnu approached Annamayya and told him about the dream he had. Annamayya happily agreed to convert. There were no second thoughts. The ritual of conversion (panchasamskaram) was conducted. His entire lineage since then retained Vaishnavism as their form of life and philosophy. Unfortunately we know very little about Ghana Vishnu.

Annamayya decided to stay in Tirumala. But after some years with intervention of his guru he returned to tallapakka with his parents and got married to tirumaamma, who is also a great poet(she wrote subadra kalyanam and many more works) and akkalamma.

Annamaacharya travelled to many of the tirtha skhetrams along with his wives and reached sri ahobilam, where he served malolan and his aacharyan srimad aadhivaan satagopa yatindra maha desikan, the first jeeyar of ahobila matam for many years (around 12 years). The bond between the jeeyar and annamacharya was a special one. The jeeyar performed the sacred rite of bharanyasam for annamacharya, taught him sribhashya, rahasya thraya saaram, srimad ramayanam, nithya grantam and nalaayiram divya prabhandam. This great aacharyan consecrated and presented an archa moorthy of lord venkatesa with his two divine consorts for aaradhanam of annamayya. Further, Adhi vann satakopa jeeya initiated annamayya into the nrusimha and venkatesa mantrams and nurtured the deep bhakti of bard to glorious heights. He composed many moving sankeertanams on the divyadesam of Ahobilam, the lord of ahobilam and his revered Acharyan. Of the 32,000 songs said to have been composed by Annamacharya, 500 are on Narasimha and 150 especially on Ahobilam.

 As in the case of Sri Thyagaraja, who in the songs in Prahlada Bhakta Vijayamaddresses Sri Rama, Annamacharya too identifies Lord Narasimha with Lord Venkateswara of the Seven Hills, his “Ishtadevata” (Hari Sri Venkatadri Ahobalesudu)Annamacharya has composed hymns on the Nava Narasimhas.

The essence of them is the greatness of Saranagati, Acharya Bhakti and for such devotees Lord Narasimha is not a terror but a benign, bewitching God (Daasula-mohana-Narasimhudu). His devotion boils down to the sentiment Satata-Sree-Venkateswara-Divya-Narasimha. 

   He avers that Malola Narasimha in all His forms is the all pervading, all conscious, all consuming Parabrahmam. Totally absorbed in ecstacy, he hails the Nava Narasimhas as Viswa Simha, Veda Simha, Varada Simha, Saranaagatha Simha, Trimurthi Simha, Durita Nivaarana Simha. Kreeda Simha, Aapat Uddara Simha and Bhaya Nivaarana Simha.

Some other songs like  AnisamutalacharO AhOBalam anantha Phaladham AhObalam, Nava Naarasimha NamO NamO,NagumOkumu nakaroopa GarudhAdhri,AhObalEswarudu are sung on glory of ahobilam lord nrusimha

Annamacharya praised his aacharyan in one of his compositions choodo dindhariki shulabudu hari. In the songs he says to him satakopa muni is the easily accessible hari, prince among ascetics, ever by our side like a shadow, the glittering pathway for moksham, the last word for enemies, an embodiment of holiness, the boat to cross the viraja river, possesses glowing erudition to protect the worlds and the effulgent lighting t both animate and inanimate. Surely, he is the vehicle to cross the ocean of samsara and significantly ends up this composition stating that sri satakopa muni is all for lord ranganatha, kaanch varadharaja, tirupati venkateswara and to ahobila nrusimha, the repository of compassion.


It is also during this time that he is supposed to have composed the entire Ramayana which is know as saranaagathi saashtram in vaishnava sampradayam by Dwipada meter in telugu , but this dwipada ramayanamu is not available now.

Annamacharya composed songs in praise of Swami Ramanujar. Unnathonathuddu Udaiyavaru    yenna nanamtude yee Udaiyavaru ….,  ghathu lanni Khilamaina kaliyugamandhunu gathi IthadE choope Ghana guru dhaivamu…..  are some of great composition on jagadhaacharyan Sri Ramanujar


Some other sankeertana on acharya tattvam are yeetanimoolamepo…. , annitiki hari antaryaami moolamu…. , vishnude yintaani bhavinchute buddhi…. , yettayina jesko ika nee cittamu nannu…..

He moved to thirumala with his aacharyan and spent most of his life there composing and presenting atleast one keertanam per day for the lord venkateswara.

Annamacharya has composed many krithis on lord venkatesa, alarmel manga, ranganathar, kanchi varadaraajar, nithya suris of lord ( vishvaksena, garuda, anantha), hanuman, the utsavams of lord, the bhaagavataas of the lord and their glories as parama vaishnavaas, bhagavad raamanuja siddhantham and its infallibility, vaishnava lakshanam and the supremacy of the performance of saranagathy at sacred feet of the lord as the never- failing means to get the richest of the purushartams.

Besides the samkeertanas and Ramayana in Dwipada metre, , he also composed Venkatachala Mahatyam in Sanskrit, Twelve Satakams, several prabandhas, Sringara Manjari and Sankeertana Lakshana in Sanskrit, but sankeertana lakshana –theory of music  is now not available.

He live for 95 years until phalguna bahula dwadasi of the dhundhubi year (febuary 23,1503).

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