Tallapaka Annamacharya (popularly and affectionarly known as Annamayya) lived during the period from 1408-1503 AD. He was born in a village named ‘Tallapaka’ in Kuddapah District of Andhra Pradesh, India. He was born into a family of Nandavareeka sect of Brahmins who scrupulously followed Rigvedic rituals as a matter of custom, Ashwalayana Sutras and belonged to Bhardwaja gotra. Narayanasuri and Lakkamamba were his father and mother. There has been a difference of opinion amongst scholars regarding the year of birth of Annamacharya which, however, was amicably sorted out with the help of available information, to the decision that he was born in the year 1408 AD and not any other year latter to this.
From his childhood Annamacharya developed an unexplainable and pious devotion towards the Lord of Seven Hills, Sri Venkateswara Balaji of Tirumala/Tirupati. It is believed that he started singing ‘parise songs’ called ‘Samkeertanas‘ praising the virtues of the Lord from a very early age in his life and he infact sung one Samkeertana on each day. It is believed that during his lifetime Annamacharya altogether sung an astounding number of around 32000 Samkeertanas. a truely unbelievable feat.
Annamacharya was married to Tirumalamma and Akkalamma and gave birth to two sons, one from each of his two wives. Of these two sons, it was Peda Tirumalacharya, the son from Akkalamma, who had carried forward the legacy of Annamacharya by becoming an equally virtuous Samkeertanaachaarya. Samkeertanas of Annamacharya are broadly divided into 2 categories viz., Bhakti Srimgaara (Deviotionally Romantic equation between the God and the Devotee) and Aadhyaatmika (phylosophical renderings). Both these categories of Samkeertanas are equally popular amongst the devotees who sing them in praise of the God, Lord Shri Venkatateswara during religious functions.
Translating the Samkeertanas of Annamacharya is not an easy task. The language he used in the Samkeertanas is very different from the language we normally find in the poetic works of Telugu poets of that period i.e., 15th Century AD. He always appeared to nurture a liking towards the coloquial langauage of the poeople of that time and always sang in the form of the language which had very less similarities to the Sanskritised Telugu that generally appeared in the literary works of the Telugu poets. The Samkeertanas, therefore, appear very different and more often than not, take some time to understand the exact meaning of the words and the meaning of the Keertana as a whole. But once the correct meaning of all the words understood, the meaning of the entire Keertana will never fail to give a pleasant feeling, an admixture of Bhakti (devotion) and Srimgaara (Romance).
For example, there is this Srimgaara keertana which starts with the words వద్దు చెనకకుర వాదేటికి, in which వద్దు means ‘no’, చెనకు means ‘to tease, to play pranks’. The word చెనకకుర, therefore, means ‘donot tease’ and వాదేటికి means ‘why to argue?’. The first line of this keertana can, therefore, be translated as ‘No, donot tease me My Lord, why argument?’. The words ‘My Lord’ need to be added here to convey the correct meaning of the line.
The second line of this keertana is చద్ది వేడికి సొలపు జంకెనలు మేలు. In this line చద్ది is another form of the word చలిది which indicates ‘a state of chill in the body’. The words చద్ది వేడికి should, therefore, mean ‘for the heat that is required so as to be able to withstand the chill of the body’. This gives a hell of a problem to the translator to convey the meaning in two or at the most three words, since he can not afford to exceed the length of the line. సొలయు means ‘to languish’ and జంకెన means ‘frieght’, ‘alarm’, ‘a threat’. సొలపు జంకెనలు means ‘the languishings one experiences during the threat of losing love’. మేలు means ‘better’. These two lines of the keerthana can, therefore, be translated as under (first the two lines in the languageTelugu, which will then be followed by the translation in English):
“వద్దు చెనకకుర వాదేటికి
చద్ది వేడికి సొలపు జంకెనలు మేలు.”
“No, please don’t tease me, My Lord, why argument,
for the coldness in my heart, the threatened languishings serve better!”