āndhrabhāṣākaviśreṣṭham veṃkaṭādrinivāsinam vaṃde’hamannamācāryam rāgamohavimuktaye || 

Sree madvatheeya charithamrutha mannayarya Peethvapinaiva suhitha manujabha veyuhu Thvam Venkata chalapathe riva bhakti saaram Sree Thallapaaka gurudeva namo namasthey Namo Namashtey ||  

Shri Annamacharya (1408-1503) was a forerunner of the great composers of Car­natic Music including Purandara Dasa and Tyagaraja Swamigal. Also known as An­namayya or Annamacharyulu he is a saint composer who composed soulful lyrics in chaste Telugu in praise of Lord Venkateswara and his divine consort Alamelumanga.He has also composed a few songs in Sanskrit.

 Shri Annamacharya’s biography was written by his son Chinna Tirumalacharya.  Born to Narayana Suri alias Kumaranarayana and Lakshmamba of  Tallapaka in Cud­dapah district, Andhra Pradesh, this child prodigy was said to have had a vision from Alamelumanga, the consort of Lord Shrinivasa. At the tender age of eight, he left for Tirumala on a command from Lord Venkataramana in a dream. He had a vision of Alamelumanga (the damsel standing on a flower), the divine consort of Shrinivasa. Young Annamayya poured forth 100 compositions immediately at Mokallamudupu. As he ascended the seven hills, scaling spiritual heights, he reached the Abode of Bliss, to this day an unparalleled inspiration to all. He was then initiated into the Vaishnava fold by Ghana Vishnu with traditional Panchasamskaram rituals.

 He stayed at Tirumala until the age of 16. Then, he had a manifestation of Lord Venkataramana and a command to compose no less than one song a day, which he did till he passed away at the ripe old age of 95. After receiving his command, he returned to Tallapaka and married Timmakka and Akkalamma. He continued to tour the whole of South India worshipping Vaishnavite shrines. Adivan Satakopa Yati of Ahobilam enlightened his life and mission. Inspired by this guru, he sang the essence of Vishishtaadwaita philosophy. At the same time, he took to compos­ing on the Lord of the Hill and His consort Alamelumanga. Over the years, while his compositions on the divine couple formed the largest part of his literary output, he also composed songs on a few other deities.

 Annamacharya’s music attracted the attention of the ruling king Saluva Narasimha of Penukonda. The mutual affection soon turned sour when the ruler desired that Annamacharya compose an erotic song on him. The composer refused and re­mained steadfast in his resolution of singing only the praise of Vishnu. The infuri­ated king imprisoned him for some time but soon he saw the error of his ways and once again became devoted to the composer. 

 Annamacharya is credited with introducing the ceremonial bathing of Venkateswara every Friday, a practice that continues till date. While he enjoyed popularity in his days, his compositions remained forgotten for over three centuries. Only in 1922 they were found engraved on copper plates, hidden for centuries inside the Shri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala concealed in a very small room. Copper plates on which they were inscribed are now with Shree Venkateshwara Oriental Research Institute, Tirupati. They were published in a 26-volume set. Many of his songs originally were set in ragas that are no longer in vogue. Modern tunesmiths have substituted popular ragas for many of his songs. Due to the efforts of Tirupati Dev­asthanam and musicians like Balamuralikrishna, Neduneri Krishnamoorthi and M.S.Subbulakshmi these songs with improvised ragas came back to the public do­main and are now part of the repertoire of most Carnatic musicians.

 He is believed to have composed in all 32,000 songs out of which 14,000 are avail­able to us. The larger part of around 12000 songs comprises erotic themes depict­ing the love making of the divine couple Venkateswara and Alamelumanga. These are referred to as Shringara Sankirtanas. The remaining, classified as Adhyatmika Sankirtanas deal with devotion and higher philosophy. 

In addition to the kritis, Annamacharya composed twelve shatakas (sets of 100 verses) in praise of deities. He also created prabandhas, wrote the Venkatachala Mahatmiya and composed the Ramayana in Telugu in dwipada metre. He also au­thored the Sangita Lakshanam, a treatise on music in Sanskrit.

 Some famous An­namacharya Kirtanas are set out below:

·      Sharanu Sharanu 

·      Rama Dayapara Seema

·      Narayana Te Namo Namo

·      Bhavayami Gopalabalaṁ

·      Muddugare yasoda

·      Shriman Narayana

·      Jo achyutananda jo jo

·      Bhavamulona Bahyamunandunu

·      Brahmam Okate

·      Nanati Batuku Natakamu 

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