Monday, 19 May 2008
600th birthday fete: Annamayya has all in a spell
May 19, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 18: The sleepy village of Tallapaka, 100 km from the temple town of Tirupati, came to life on Sunday with devotional musicians, singers, poets, writers and artistes descending there from all over the world. The village has no economic activity worth mentioning. And yet the name Tallapaka spells magic and weaves images of a saint-poet, who was born there 600 years ago to the day.
The saint-poet, Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya, had left a lasting imprint on devotional music with his 32,000 devotional songs or sankeertanas composed in the praise of Venkateswara, the presiding deity of the Tirumala Hills in Tirupati.
Come Monday and composers, poets, musicians and the devout will celebrate the 600th birth anniversary of Annamacharya or Annamayya in his village. The government has spruced up the dusty village in Rajampet mandal of Kadapa district as mark of respect and devotion to Annamayya.
“The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams is busy obtaining technical recognition from Sri Venkateswara University to streamline research activities with a techno-academic outlook,” says TTD chairman B Karunakar Reddy. “ As of now, more than 50 dissertations have been produced by different universities.” A contemporary of saint Kabir, Annamayya devoted his life to singing the praises of Venkateswara, who is regarded as encompassing the power of Vishnu, Shiva and Aadi Shakthi. Not many know that Annamayya had also rendered the Ramayana in dwipada (rhyming couplets). Until Annamayya composed hymns in Telugu, the presiding deity was worshipped and praised in Sanskrit and Tamil.
The TTD executive officer, Mr K.V. Ramanachari, told this correspondent that the board would hold year-long celebrations to mark the birth anniversary. “This is Annamayya year. We are implementing an ambitious programme to perpetuate his memory and to popularise his compositions in India and abroad,” Mr Ramanachari said.
The idea behind celebrating the anniversary is to show the present generation the greatness of Telugu culture. “Young people should know about Annamayya and his compositions. This will inculcate in them a sense of devotion and hard work,” Mr Karunakar Reddy said. Annamayya was the first composer (vaggeyakara) in Telugu and created a system of music which was adopted by saint composers like Tyagaraja and Kshetraiah. The Annamayya tradition is still followed all over the world.
His compositions in Telugu are of high literary value and he is often regarded as the Shakespeare of Telugu devotional literature. The saint-composer preached the oneness of God and propagated the tatwa and mahatwa of Venkateswara. As the birthday celebrations begin on Monday, the village will go back to the days of Annamayya who rendered Telugu hymns in an altogether different note for more than eight decades. He lived for 95 years.
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