Saturday, September 26, 2009

Annamacharya -Telugu Pada Kavita Pitamaha

As we are busy attending Lord Venkateswara Brahmostsavam festival, it is only right that we should remember the Great Annamacharya likewish Kancherla Gopanna or Ramadasu who was a great devotee of Lord Sri Rama.
This great poet saint Annamarcharya who loves music and who worship the Supreme Lord Sri Venkateswara Swamy. As known as“Telugu Pada Kavita Pitamaha, the great grand poet born once in a million years, it is proud of Telugu Literature. He is like an ever shining jewel in the grandeur of Lord Venkateswara.
Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya (1408 - 1503) is an Indian poet and musician widely regarded as the Telugu pada kavita pitaamaha. An ardent devotee of Lord Venkateswara of Tirupati, AP. Annamacharya is also known as Annamayya. He successfully composed more than 32,000 Sankeertanas in praise of Lord Venkateswara, the deity of seven hills at Tirumala, India where unbroken worship is being offered for over 12 centuries. It is a rare feat which is near impossible to replicate! The Sankeertanas were found engraved on copper plates which were hidden for centuries inside the Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala.
Annamacharya considered his compositions as floral offerings to God. In the poems, he praises Venkateswara, describes his love for him, argues and quarrels with the Lord, confesses the devotee’s failures and apprehensions, and surrenders himself to Venkateswara. His songs are classified into Adhyaatamika (Spiritual) and Sringaara (Romantic) Samkirtanas.
Annamacharya had composed and sang 32,000 sankeertanas (devotional poems), 12 Satakas (sets of hundred verses) Ramayana in the form of Dwipada, Sankeertana Lakshanam (Characteristics of Sankeertanas), Sringara Manjari (romantic poems) and Venkatachala Mahathyam. His works were mainly in Telugu and Sanskrit.
His songs gained great popularity among masses. Saluva Narasimharaya, the then ruler of Tangutooru learnt about this great saint and invited him to his court. He was then honoured and appointed as the “Asthana Kavi” in his court by the king. Annamayya stayed in the kingdom for a couple of years composing and singing great songs on Sri Venkateswara Swamy.

At one point, Annamacharya was once hand-cuffed and sent to the jail. The king ordered the soldiers to torture him until he obeys to sing praising the King. Annamacharya was even beaten mercilessly. When Annamacharya was singing a keerthana praising the Lord of Seven Hills saying that He is the only succour for him, amidst thundering flash the hand-cuffs broken instantly on their own and fell down. On learning the miracle the king Saluva rushed to the prison and fell on Annamacharya’s feet seeking pardon for his terrible mistake. His entire ego was shattered by the eternal devotion of saint Annmacharya for Lord Venkateswara.
When Annmacharya was in Tirumala he introduced many rituals and festivals celebrating and hailing the Lord. It was Annamacharya who first started and decided to perform “Nitya Kalyanotsavam” (the ever celebrated marriage ceremony) of the Lord Srinivasa with Goddess Sri Devi and Bhoodevi. Many other rituals and festivals introduced by Annmacharya are still followed in Tirumala Temple. He spent many years in Tirumala Temple composing and singing millions of songs on Lord Venkateswara Swamy.
The songs of Annamacharya inspired and motivated even the people of backward classes to have the darshan of that divine Lord. The great saint has composed and sang songs like “Kondalalo Nelakona Koneti rayadu vadu..! Kondalanta varamulu guppedu vadu..!” which means the God is our local who lives with us in these rocks and caves blessing one and all equally. “Tandanana Ahi Tandananapure… Tandanana bhala Tandanana… Brahmamokkate Parabrahmamokkate…. Parabrahmamokkate Parabrahmamokkate II…and"Tandana Padam" which is sung with a folk instrument called "Dappu" to propagate the Truth of equality of all human beings.
Annamacharya used to write the keerthans on palm leaves. When a group of miscreants were burning the Annamacharya's keerthans. As news reached to the King Saluva Narasimharaya who then decided to preserve this treasure forever and decided to engrave them in copper plates. With the help of Annamacharyas son Tirumalacharya the sankeerthanas saved from fire were engraved into copper plates. After completion of the engraving work, the great saint Annamacharya left the millions of his well-wishers and lovers in sorrow as he died on 23rd of February 1503 A.D. According to Telugu calendar the month is "PHALGUNAM", the Tithi (A day in a month according to the position of the Moon) is "BAHULA DWADASI".

The treasures of Annamacharya engraved in copper plates were hidden in a rock built cell opposite to Hundi (donation sack) in the Tirumala Temple unnoticed for over 400 years. His Son, Peda Tirumalacharya and Grandson, Chinatirumalacharya got the Sankeertanas of Annamacharya engraved on copper-plates and Treasured those Copper Plates in "Sankeertana Bhandaram" (a rock-built-cell at TIRUMALA temple. For many years the great saint Annamacharya had remained in the darkness. His songs were sung among people of Andhra Pradesh. But unfortunately, nobody knows the real creator of those songs until those valuable treasures of Annamacharya were found.
It was only in the year 1922, two thousand and five hundred copper plates comprising of 14,000 sankeertanas and a few other works were found in the rock built cell. The cell was later named as “Sankeerthana Bhandagaram” which means a treasury of poems opposite to the Hundi. It was only during the decades of 1970 the facts of Annamayya and Tallapaka Village has come into light.
Ever since the discovery of this lost treasure, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) and other organizations in India are working hard to promote the music and literature of Annamacharya in India and around world.
Saint Annamacharya’s birth and death Anniversaries were grandly celebrated at Tirumala. TTD organizes many devotional activities and promote the sankeertans of this great grandfather of our Telugu Literature.
And every year there will a number of artistes from Annamarcharya project coming to Malaysia via Sree Venkateswara Temple of Sungai Sumun, Perak, Malaysia to perform during Brahmostsavam festival at Sree Venkateswara and after which around other Telugus living areas of the country.
Source: TAM / Sri Tirumala Venkateswara Vaibhavam

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