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Tallapaka Annamacharya Biography

Tallapaka Annamacharya Biography


Tallapaka Annamacarya (or Annamayya) (22 May 1408 – 4 April 1503) was a 15th-century Hindu saint born to Lakkamamba and Narayana Suri,and is the earliest known Indian musician to compose songs called sankirtanas in praise of the god Venkateswara, a form of Vishnu.He is the first known composer in carnatic music. The musical form of the keertana songs that he composed, which are still popular among Carnatic music concert artists, have strongly influenced the structure of Carnatic music compositions.
He is believed to have been the avatar of Nandaka, the sword of Vishnu. He is widely regarded as the Andhra Pada kavitā Pitāmaha (Grandfather of Telugu song-writing).
Personal life
Annamacharya was born on Vaishakha Shuddha Pournami in the year Sarwadhari (22 May 1408) in Tallapaka, Near Rajampet Mandal, a village in current day Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, India.[5] He was born into Nandavarika Niyogi family.[6] His wife, Timmakka,had written Subhadra Kalyanam, and is considered the first female poet in Telugu literature. Their son, Pedda Tirumalacharya, and grandson, Tallapaka Chinnayya, were also composers and poets. The Tallapaka compositions are considered to have dominated and influenced the structure of Carnatic music compositions.Annamacharya lived for 95 years until Phalguna Bahula (Krishna) Dvadashi (12th day after full moon) in the year Dhundhubhi (4 April 1503).
In the Dwipada the story of Annamacharya goes back three generations to his grandfather Narayanayya. As a boy Narayanayya was not keen in studies and it was customary in those times for the gurus to subject the students to different kinds of torturous methods to create concentration on studies. When nothing worked for the young boy, he decided that death would be better than the life filled with torture, humiliation, and shame. He heard about the venomous cobra in the snake hole at the temple of Chinthalamma the village Goddess. In an attempt to take his life away, Narayanayya put his hand in the snake hole at the temple. To his surprise, the village Goddess appeared before him and advised him not to take his life away since a boy with an element of Hari or Vishnu would be born in the third generation of Narayanayya.
Narayana Suri, the son of Narayanayya, did not have children for a long time. Narayana Suri and his wife Lakkamamba visited Tirumala Temple and while they were prostrating in front of the Holy Mast (Dhwaja Sthambha) a dazzling brilliance from the sword of Lord Venkateswara struck them like a lightening. Eventually a boy was born to them and they named him Annamayya. Annamayya became Annamacharya when the sage Ghana Vishnu at Tirumala converted him into a Vaishnavaite at the age of 8.


Literary career
During his long and prolific career, Annamacharya composed and sang 32,000 Sankirtanas, 12 Satakas (sets of hundred verses), Ramayana in the form of Dwipada,SsankIrtana Lakshanam (Characteristics of sankIrtanas), Sringaara Manjari,  and Venkatachala Mahatmamyam. His works were in Telugu, Sanskrit and a few other languages of India. 
Chinnanna called the 32,000 Sankirtanas as 32,000 Mantras or Sacred Hymns. It was also recorded in Chinnanna’s Dwipada that Purandara Dasa, who was 70 years younger to Annamacharya, heard about the miracles of Annamacharya and visited him. Purandara Dasa paid his respects to Annamacharya by calling him the incarnation of Lord Venkateswara and his Sankirtanas as Sacred Hymns.  
Annamacharya wrote the sankirtanas on palm leaves and later his son Tirumalacharya got them engraved on copper plates. But for reasons not known, most of these copper plates lay hidden in a rock built cell opposite to Hundi in the Tirumala temple unnoticed for over 400 years. 
In 1922, twenty five hundred copper plates, comprising of about 14,000 sankIrtanas and a few other works, were found  in a rock built cell, later named as Sankirtana Bhandagaram, opposite to the Hundi (donation box). 
Ever since the discovery of this lost treasure, Tirumala Tirupati Devastanams (TTD) and other organizations in India are working hard to promote the music and literature of Annamacharya.
Legacy
While he enjoyed popularity in his days, his compositions were forgotten for over three centuries. Mentioned in 1849, they were later found engraved on copper plates, hidden for centuries inside the Sri Venkateshwara temple at Tirumala, just opposite the Hundi, concealed in a very small room.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, also known as TTD, has been endeavouring to preserve the rich heritage of his compositions. In the year 1950, The State Government of Andhra Pradesh created a committee and appointed the legendary musician late Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna as its head. He set music to over 800 compositions of Annamacharya and are still popular among the devotees. He was the Āsthāna Gāyaka of the Tirumala temple at Tirupati for two decades. He is regarded as a legend in rendering devotional music in classical style, especially the Annamacharya Sankirtanas. 
A Telugu film named Annamayya was made on him by K. Raghavendra Rao in 1997. It starred Nagarjuna in the lead role as Annamacharya and also featured Suman as Lord Venkateshwara and Bhanupriya as Goddess Padmavathi Devi in important roles.


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