Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya History - Tirupati Package
Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya (1408-1503) was the earliest composer of kirtanas in Telugu in south India
and the father of the bhajana paddhati. The kirthana, in its rudimentary form, had ahead appeared in
Kannada at the time of sri padaraja (1422-1480) and sri vyasaraja (1447-1539 (who was contemporary of
annamacharya but their compositions were known as padas.
Practically nothing was known about annamacharya till 1949. Even a knowledge musicologist like
subbarama Dikshitar wrote only a short account in1904 about one tallapakam chinnayya, a Telugu
Brahmin of tirupati who founded the utsava sampradata tradition. This chinnayya was in fact tallapakam
chinnanna, the grandson of annamacharya , who wrote the ” Annamacharya Charitham” in Telugu in the
Annamacharya was born in the village of tallapakam in the rajampet taluk of cuddapah district under the
vaishaka constellation in the month of vaishaka which incidentally happens to be the birth day of
nammalvar. He belonged to the nandavarika sect of smartha brahmins.
His original name appears to have been annamaya and he became annamacharya after he was
converted to sri vaishnavism at tirupati by a jeeyar who belonged to the vadagalai sect.
It is said he had a momentary vision of lord venkateswara in his sixteenth year and commenced his
composing career with a song “ippudi kalaganti”. soon after, he left house without the knowledge of his
parents and climbed the tirumala hills describing their enchanting beauty in many kriti he had married twi
wives and after leading the life of a householder leading the life of a house holder for some years, he
renounced the world and proceeded to ahobilam where he spent most of his time studying visishtadvaita
at the feet of adivan sathakopa yatindra, the founder of the ahobila mutt. he also studied divya
prabhandham in depth. the pasurams of alvars had considerably influenced the kiritis of annamayya and
many of his sankirtanas echo the devotional sentiments expressed by these twelve minstrels of
At the request of saluva narasimh, annamacharya visited vijayanagar. the ruler appreciated the rapturous
rendering of his compositions and hailed the saint composer as a reincarnation of tumbura and narada.
however, when annamaya refused to indite a poem in praise of the king, he got angry and sent him to
prison. the king later repented his rash act and released the saint.
According to tradition, annamacharya returned to tallapakka but became a victim of the po
litical turmoil in the area. It was during this tumultuous
period, he lost the idols this tumultuous period, he lost the idols so dear to him and expressed his anguish
in the song ‘Indira ramanunchi. In-spite of his unsettled life, Annamacharya made significant contributions
to music, poetry and bhajan sampradaya. among his poetical works, mention may be made of the dvipadi
ramayana in the dvipadimetre, 12 satakams in Telugu and ‘venkatachala mahatmayam’ in Sanskrit. As a
composer, he wrote 32,000 kirtanas ranging from classical pieces to fold songs . He was hailed in his own
life-time as ‘padakavita pitamaha’, Sankirtanachary’ and ‘harikirtanacharya’
The sankirtanas of annamaya fall under two categories. Srinagara sankirtaanas and adhyatma
sankirtanas . He sanjirtanas with the nayaka nayaki motif coupled with the lilavibhuti of lord venkateswara
elucidate the path ways to salvation. the adhyatma sankirtanas on ther hand, Extol the glory of bhakti in a
style that is both sublime and elegant.
“srinagara manajari’ of annamaya is a telugu dvipada poetry composed in manjari metre. the work which
depicts the love stories of lord venkateswara is sweet in respect of its language and emotic quality. It is
said annamacharya had the Gracie blessings of the lord after the completion of this work.
“sri venkateswara satakam’ composed by tallapaka annamacharya contains one hundred poems set in
utpalamala and champakamala meters, According to the vaikhansa tradition , Sri and sreesa cannot be
differentiated. the entire the validity of this divine principle.
Apart of the classical compositions of the saint poet, he has also indited several hymns in folk style which
are remarkable for their rustic charm, simplicity and his creative genius in conveying even the most subtle
metaphysical ideas in language which is graceful and sonorous, There are a number of compositions
based on folk traditions like suvi dampulla, ela kolattam, jejara and drawn from other folk dance forms. his
songs are full of literary eauties like yati, prasa, sabdalankara and yamaka as well as homely similes,
metaphors and proverbs, There is no bhajan which annamacharya had not mastered. He made several
bhajans that can be sung by one and all.
Though annamacharya was proficient in using highly classical style, yet he preferred to adopt colloquial
style in his padas. some of the words used by annamayya are not in vogue now.
Annamacharya Philosophy :
For annamacharya brahman is no bare entity devoid of attributes. Like Ramnuja, he strongly believes that
god is the center of all auspicious qualities. he also refutes the theory of advaitins hat Brahmans is
formless on empirical grounds. In one song annamayaa pokes fun at the advaitins thus God is offered
adoration and yet is believed to have no eyes to see the act of adoration. He is offered prayers and yet is
thought to have no ears to hear them, He is offered anything as naivedayam and yet is believed to have
no mouth to eat it and He is offered incense and yet is said to have no nose to smell it .
Annamayya’s description of brahman’s all-pervasive virat form is characterized by anthropomorphism in
that Brahman is spoken as having physical body various organs as it is done with reference to human
being. Annamacharya believes Brahman to be the conscious supporter of all things, all quarters and the
whole universal egg is supported by it speaking of everything physical and conscious static and dynamic
celestial and moral as having its supported in god. The saint say, In the alone is everything. Though art
the supporter all these. To know thee is equal to knowing everything. To worship, thee is equal to pleasing
The supreme quality of the god head i.e, easy accessibility is reiterated in many of his compositions
annamacharya often extols god as dayanidhi, karunanilaya, karunabharana, karunarasa and kripasagara.
While exalting the glory of the lord he attributes the characteristic of not being crooked(akutila mahimala
anantudu ) and while glorifying god’s nature of grace, he ascribes to it the characteristic of being taint less
(akajanjamaina dayanidhi). The lord protects his devotees, pardons their mistakes and showers his
unlimited grace on then owing to his being self-sufficient (avipta sakala kama),
According to annamacharya, the basic of bondage is ignorance which lies in forgetting the supremacy of
god and mistaking that the material world for final goal of life. It is ignorance that makes man do all sorts
of karma and pulls him into the interminable cycle of transmigration. In one of his sankirthanas,
annamacharya clearly distinguishs ignorance from knowledge that man should accept either knowledge
Annamacharya worships the lord in his various attributes and forms. The saint extols god as having no
equal respect of beauty, richness, prowess, manliness, antiquity and generosity. The lord of tirumala is
invested with inexhaustible and incomprehensible glory. He is the import of all mantras when annamayya
dwells upon his magnificence, he is awestruck by his over-powering personality and grandeur.
The saint composer feels himself the humblest of the humble while describing the lord. We are
dasas,kinkaras, children of hari, he says in one of his sankirtanas. He piously acknowledges that he
cannot give anything in return to what god has graciously bestowed on him. The mystic yearnings of the
poet are best reflected in his sringara sankirtanas where the union of the supreme soul with the jiva is
emphasized in the most lyrical way. Annamayya love is not the infatuation of a finite human being but the
timeless love of the soul towards god which leads to blessedness.