Tallapaka Annamacharya (popularly and affectionately 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 followed Rigvedic customs, Ashwalayana’s Sutras and belonged to Bhardwaja gotra. Narayanasuri and Lakkamaamba 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 praise songs called ‘Samkeertana’ praising the virtues of the Lord from a very tender age in his life and went on singing one new Samkeertana each day all his life. Thus in all Annamacharya sang nearly 32000 Samkeertanas in his lifetime – not an easy task to think, considering the number involved.
Annamacharya was married to Tirumalamma and Akkalamma and gave birth to two sons, one each from his two wives. Of these two sons, it was Peda Tirumalacharya, the son from Akkalamma, who carried forward the tradition and legacy of Annamacharya by becoming an equally virtuous Samkeertanaachaarya.
Samkeertanas of Annamacharya are broadly divided into 2 categories viz., Bhakti Srimgaara (Devotionally Romantic equation between the God and the Devotee) and Aadhyaatmika (philosophical renderings). Both these categories of Samkeertanas are equally popular among the devotees who sing them in praise of the God, Lord Shri Venkatateswara during religious functions and ceremonies.
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 colloquial phrase and idiom of the people 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).
To start with, there is this famous devotional keertana which starts with the words ‘bhaavamuloena baahyamunaMduna’ – భావములోన బాహ్యమునందున:
bhaavamuloena baahyamunaMduna| goeviMda goeviMda yani koluvavoe manasaa||
hari yavataaramulea akhiladeavatalu| hariloenivea brah&maaMDammulu|
hari naamamulea annimaMtramulu| hari hari hari hari yanavoe manasaa||
vishNuni mahimale vihita karmamulu| vishNuni pogaDeDi veadaMbulu|
vishNuDokkaDea viSvaaMtaraatmuDu| vishNuvu vishNuvani veadakavoe manasaa||
achytuDitaDea aadiyu naMtyamu| achytuDea asuraaMtakuDu|
achyutuDu Srii veaMkaTaadri miida nide| achyuta achyuta SaraNanavoe manasaa||
భావములోన బాహ్యమునందున| గోవింద గోవింద యని కొలువవో మనసా||
హరి యవతారములే అఖిలదేవతలు| హరిలోనివే బ్రహ్మాండమ్ములు|
హరి నామములే అన్నిమంత్రములు| హరి హరి హరి హరి యనవో మనసా||
విష్ణుని మహిమలె విహిత కర్మములు| విష్ణుని పొగడెడి వేదంబులు|
విష్ణుడొక్కడే విశ్వాంతరాత్ముడు| విష్ణువు విష్ణువని వేదకవో మనసా||
అచ్యుతుడితడే ఆదియు నంత్యము| అచ్యుతుడే అసురాంతకుడు|
అచ్యుతుడు శ్రీ వేంకటాద్రి మీద నిదె| అచ్యుత అచ్యుత శరణనవో మనసా||
(శుధ్ధ ధన్యాసి రాగం – ఆది తాళం లో పాడబడుతుంది).
The foundation line
Within your mind and outside of it|
always praise-sing Govinda Govinda, Oh my conscience||
It is Hari’s other forms, all these gods innumerable|
all the universes are formations within him|
It is Hari’s names, all these power-filled recitations|
sing Hari Hari Hari Hari always, Oh my conscience||
It is Vishnu’s attributes, all these decided daily chores|
and all the praise-singing the vedas themselves do|
It is only the Vishnu that is all pervasive|
go on searching always Vishnu Vishnu, Oh my conscience||
It is only this man Achyuta who has no beginning or end|
it is only Achyuta who has made all the non-gods end|
It is here you can find Achyuta on this hill Venkatadri |
seek blessings saying Achyuta Achyuta, Oh my conscience||
1. The word మనసు or మనస్సు literally means the ‘conscious mind’ with all its power of cognition, intellect and capacity of understanding. The word మనసా is indicative of self-suggestion to the signer’s as well as the listeners’ cognitive mind to follow the content of the song being sung.
2. The word achyuta అచ్యుత is a combination word which when separated would become a + chyuta and literally means ‘beyond the scope of destruction’ and hence ‘having no end’.
3. This praise-song is composed and sung in tune Sudhdha danyaasi set to aadi taaLa (taaLa is a standard measure of time used in Indian music).