Annamacharya #18 – A Reluctant Conclusion

by Sahadev Komaragiri

There is something about Annamacharya’s life that caught my imagination starting from the year 2007, and ever since I am completely hooked. This concluding article, I am certain, is not the last article that I will ever write about him. Initially I planned many more articles that would have included topics on Alimelumanga, Sanskrit compositions, literary works, social compositions, philosophical compositions, comparative studies and so on. This would have been an unending series if not for this reluctant conclusion.

This is the eighteenth and final article in my series of articles on Annamacharya. Return to Tirumala is the previous article in the series.

 

It has been a long journey. To tread this difficult path of writing this 18 part series on Annamacharya, I realize now, is not an easy one. Sometimes it was very difficult to verify the facts before I put them in the article. But sometimes it was a sheer joy to write about my favorite composer. At the end of the day, the journey is worth it and I would do it all over again even if knew about the difficulties that I would encounter. What I am able to accomplish with this series is way more satisfying than the small booklet that I published in the year 2007. I hope and pray that you found these articles useful. I shall close this series with a few details on the literary works on Annamacharya that I found very useful as well as some closing remarks.

Literary Works on Annamacharya

In the year 1978, TTD started the Annamacharya Project with the aim to propagate the tatwa and mahatwa of Lord Venkateswara by popularizing the compositions of Annamacharya.  Since then it has been leading the research efforts. Over a ten year period this project published 14000 compositions in 29 volumes. In addition to releasing a number of audio cassettes of recording of Annamacharya keertanas, they published several works of Tallapaka family including Sankeertana Lakshanamu, Annamacharya Jeevita Charitra and Subhadra Kalyanamu the last one written by Timmakka. Annamacharya Jeevita Charitra written by Veturi Prabhakara Sastry was one of my main sources for tracking the history of Annamacharya. This is the most exhaustive work ever done on Annamacharya and is quoted by every book written on Annamacharya. There is a criticism that TTD is not catching up with the technological advancements in spite of all the resources at its disposal. Many of the TTD publications are either not in print or not easily accessible. TTD can and certainly should do more!

There are several books available on Annamacharya in both English and Telugu. Many of them are not easily accessible. Only a few which are easily available include Flowers at His Feet by Pappu Venugopala Rao, Songs of Three Great South Indian Saints by William J. Jackson, God on the Hill – Temple Poems from Tirupati translated by Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman. These books have been of tremendous use to me in writing these articles. The most recent one is Flowers at His Feet. This book will serve as one of the most valuable works on Annamacharya in the recent times. Balantrapu Rajanikanta Rao is another noted author who wrote the book andhra vaaggeyakaara charitramu in two volumes. The amount of research done by this author is truly amazing and it is no surprise that this two volume publication won the Central Sahitya Academy Award. This book contains the history, literary and musical works of all Telugu composers from Tallapaka poets to modern composers like Managalampalli Balamuralikrishna. This book is a joy to read and provided me with a lot of information in putting together these articles.

In the internet world there are several sites and blogs that are dedicated to Annamacharya and his works. The Telugu wikisource has a short biography of Annamacharya and also lyrics in Telugu of several hundred Annamacharya compositions. Here is another site that is a good source of lyrics and audio versions of his compositions. As of this writing there are lyrics, notes and commentary for nearly 750 songs on this site. The advent of the online file sharing helped in spreading the audio recordings. As soon as a composition is available in audio it usually appears on one of the many online file sharing sites!

With growing interest in Annamacharya and his life, there are sure to be many more books that will bring him closer to the people than ever before. For someone who had such a powerful influence on the richest temple on planet – but was mysteriously forgotten for many centuries – there is bound to be a fresh wave of enthusiasm in every generation in the foreseeable future.

A Note about My Song Selections

With over 14000 compositions available, it is impossible to select a few of them and tag them as the “popular” ones. This approach is sure to invite resentment from people who can easily protest citing one of their own favorites which is most deservingly popular. Keeping in mind there can be no right answer to the question “what are some of the most popular compositions of Annamacharya?”, throughout this series I have tried to provide a “representative” sample for a style that was discussed. The term representative is very relative.

Thank You!

The life of Annamacharya is shrouded in mystery. Very little was known until recently. The fact that there are not many historical evidences and depressing disagreements among scholars does not make matters easy for someone trying to know him. All the information provided in this series of posts is gleaned from various sources that may or may not be accurate. It is possible that you may not find what you expected to see. Such a lapse is either because of my ignorance or an indiscretion on my part in judging about the worthiness of something being in here. Every effort is made to verify the accuracy of the statements made here – but it is only the Lord above us who knows the truth. I consider it a privilege that you have perused through these posts. Your intellectual acumen is sure to find some mistakes and even some statements that may not be to your taste. I hope and pray that you will carry a heart big enough to forgive me on that count. I am your fellow traveler who is on a journey in search of the man behind this vast collection of hymns in praise of Lord Venkateswara and whose indefatigable devotion produced unparalleled collection ever attributed to one individual. Thank you for reading.

Salutations to Annamacharya

At this juncture, it is befitting to offer our humble pranams to the greatest devotee of Lord Venkateswara through this verse that is rendered during every event that is organized in honour of Annamacharya. I must admit that I am having a very hard time finding the source of this verse.

Srimat tvadiya charitamrita mannayarya
Pitvapi naiva suhita manuja bhaveyuh
Tvam Venkatachalapateriva bhaktisaram
Sri Tallapaka Gurudeva namo namaste

O Noble Annamacharya,
even after drinking deep the nectar of thy pious life,
Men will not be happy and content –
For like Lord Venkateswara,
Thou art verily the essence of
inexhaustible human devotion
To Thee, O Supreme master of Tallapaka,
we offer our most reverential salutations.

You may listen to this verse using the control below:


If the above control does not work, click here

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Prasun September 26, 2012 at 4:56 am

Thank you Sir. I dont understand Telegu, but your description of the songs are so beautiful, I left with tears. Just one small suggestion, your work should be published as a book so that it can reach to many who is not internet savy.

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Sahadev Komaragiri September 26, 2012 at 7:36 am

Dear Prasun,
Thanks for your comments and words of encouragement. A book on this topic is a distant dream! 🙂

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Geetha November 14, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Thank you so much! Greatly appreciate your effort! This is one of the best blogs I came across on Annamacharya. What a beautiful expression of Annamacharya’s work, bio and selection of his composition amidst your writings. Thoroughly relished the bliss of Annamacharya’s compositions as well as his journey of life thru your work. Thanks Again! GOD Bless!

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Sahadev Komaragiri November 16, 2012 at 2:55 am

Geethaji,
Thanks for reading. I am glad you enjoyed reading these articles.

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Bhuvana July 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Thank you so much for this wonderful blog. The lives of such elevated devotees of the Lord are a source of amazement and inspiration to all. I thoroughly relished every bit of the series!

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Sahadev Komaragiri July 28, 2013 at 3:36 am

Thanks for your comments and for reading through the series. I enjoyed writing this series and look forward to doing some more research and write some more. It indeed is a reluctant conclusion!

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Priya Krishanmurthy September 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

Sahadevji,

You have a rare gift – to be able to be equally or more or less equally good in 2 languages – in your case Telegu and English. If you could translate Shri Annamacharya’s songs (even some of them), it would be such a contribution to our spiritual heritage and a blessing for those of us who have to rely on English translations to catch a glimpse of the beauty of His songs.

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Anupama October 24, 2014 at 2:06 am

Excellent blog on Sri Annamaacharya. The blessings of Lord Venkateswara has been with you by which you could make this wonderful blog. Thank you for all the information

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Sahadev Komaragiri October 24, 2014 at 4:15 am

Thank you.

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Gururaj April 17, 2015 at 2:27 pm

My heart full Thanks Sirjii…
Am a big devotee of Sri Anamacharya Garu and I love his songs that are so beautiful with immense meaning.And really appreciate about this blog, I thoroughly enjoyed by reading this blog and feeling more happy that some one like you are highlighting the work of great devotee. These literatures have not got the real value in the society what actually that have which I think always about it and these literatures should become very popular all over the corner of world not only for telugu people but for every devotee of Sri Lord Venkateswara…and im sure that any one once they listen these songs they surely become fan of Anamacharya and leads to become a great devotee of Lord Venkateswara.
And i think people like you should lead it and expecting more articles like this which enhances the devotional feelings in the younger generations. And sure that you’ll be blessed with that strength from Lord Venkateshwara..
Namo Narayanaya….

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Sahadev Komaragiri April 17, 2015 at 10:24 pm

Thank you sir. Glad you liked reading about Annamacharya.

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Sahadev Komaragiri February 3, 2016 at 10:09 am

Thank you. Namaste!

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vrinda acharya September 25, 2016 at 5:35 am

HARE KRISHNA!!

Namaste Sahadev garu,

I read all your 18 blogs on Annamacharya. Excellent effort! It shows your passion for Annamacharya and his bhakti. Your spiritual and cultural insight is also evident in your writings.

Will you be able to tell something about his Sanskrit compositions and also his Telugu compositions which have a good amount of Sanskrit influence?

Shubhamastu,
Thanks and regards,

Vrinda Acharya
Carnatic Vocalist

Reply

Sreelaxmi December 13, 2016 at 4:37 am

Sahadev Guruji,

This is excellent blog on Life History of great devoted Annamayya of Lord Venkateswara. Can you also write about stories of Lord Venkateswara mahatyam. I read some stories but they are scattered I would really be grateful and indebted if anyone can put those stories together in a blog like yours. Also if there is any blog already existing which I am not aware of please do let me know.

Thanks,
Sreelaxmi

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Kalpaka February 17, 2017 at 2:03 am

Respected Sir,

Kudos for such great efforts in researching and putting together such an engrossing and interesting read on Guru Sri. Tallapaka Annamacharya. Feeling inspired after reading all the 18 parts of this article. Thank you very much sir for helping students like me get closer to this composer saint’s life and work.

Kind Regards,
Kalpaka

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Suresh February 25, 2017 at 1:21 am

Dear Sir,

First of all hearty thanks, in penning down such a great article on a Guru/ Hardcore devotee to whom our mind cannot reach or visualize.

Indeed he was a great soul/bramha and our prays to Lord is to give at least .1% of that devotion, knowledge, wisdom and grace in this life to understand that nectar.

Sri Guru padarpamanastu Subhambhavathu..

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Sri January 18, 2018 at 9:44 pm

What a wonderful writing! Thanks a lot!

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Vikas October 19, 2018 at 3:42 am

Wonderful…a lot of your effort here..

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Suma polu November 8, 2018 at 12:45 pm

What a gem I have found. Most grateful for the information in your blog on Annamayya. Reading about him is surely my way of worshipping the Lord Venkateswara.

Reply

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