Annamacharya Sankeertanaalu

Outlining a few compositions

Sujatha R
15 min readMay 30, 2021

I happen to land on this beautiful music Page hosted by Anil Garu, son of Balakrishna Prasad Garu of TTD who has given music to many compositions of Annamayya. Exclusive music lessons and nuances on Annamacharya Sankeertanalu delivered in a very pleasing manner. The series motivated me to reflect on the bhava and the outline of the familiar songs.

Born in 1400AD timeframe, with Kabir, Akbar, Guru Nanak as his contemporaries, Annamayya had a special affinity for Lord Venkateshwara of Tirumala. It is said that he began composing at the age of 16, and at least one song each day after that. Out of an estimated 32,000 songs only 14,000 have survived. His works are full of Bhakthi and fall in the genres of literary embellishments Shringaara, Philosophy, and Vairagya.

His compositions were mostly in Telugu and few in Sanskrit. What a command of language, sounds, and wordplay.. There is a touch of folklore dialect here and there like ‘tandana ahi’ ‘jo jo’. Very witty usage of verbs and metaphors. And a nice opportunity to examine and learn words of his times.

My salutations to the grandsire of Poetry Tallapaka Annamayya — Pada Kavita Pitamaha. A few phrases and outlines which caught my attention. Perhaps I will write another post on patterns and high frequency words.

Advaita & Equivision

a) Brahmam okkate .. Parabrahmam okkate
b) Entha Matramu evvaru Talachina: Limitation is in us c)

Hari Naama & Vishnu Katha

a) Brahma kadigina Paadamu
b) Cheri Yashodaku Sisuvu ittadu
c) Shriman Narayana
d) Bhavamu-lona bahyamu-nandanu: Inside Out
e) Anthavu neeve: You are Everything
f) Marda Marda mama Bandhanaani: On ‘Sudarshana Chakra’

Rama’s Life Story

a) Raamudu Raaghavudu

Venkatachala pati

a) Shodasa Kala Nidhiki -Manasa Pooja
b) Kondalalo nelakonna: Tales on Tirupati
c) podaganti mayya : We have seen you
d) JagaDapu janavula jaajara: Jaajara Genre

Devi

a) Ksheerabdi kanyakuku shri mahalakshmiku
b) Vachindi Alamel Manga

Bala Gopala Krishna

a) Bhavayaami Gopaala Baala
b) Jo acchutananda Jo Jo Mukunda
c) Mudda gare Yashoda d) Itti mudduladivadu

Advaita & Equivision

a) Brahmam okkate .. Parabrahmam okkate
A very energetic and popular song with an Advaitha like message of equivision. It starts of with a folklore touch of sounds..
Tandanana Ahi.. Tandanana Pure.. Tandanana Bhala.. Tandanana

There is only one Supreme Lord. Shri Hari resides in the heart of all creatures. andariki srihare antaratma

The sleep of a king and a servant raju and bantu is no different. The land supporting a brahman and a chandaal are no different. The pleasures sukha kamam are no different for devathas, animals and worms keeta pashu.. .. The day and night is no different for rich and poor. The air that carries good and bad smell and the tongue that tastes good and bad is the same for all. The Sun that shines over elephant and street dog enugu shunakamu is the same.

Music
meaning

b) Entha Matramu evvaru Talachina

A very thought provoking song on what we are.. We are limited in our capacities and thinking. Our understanding of the divine is limited by our capacity.

Annamayya gives a metaphor on our capacity. A Nipattu snack can be sized as much as the amount of flour used in preparing it.

Vaishnavites see Vishnu in him, Shaivaites call him Shiva, Kapalikas call him Bairava, Vedantins call him Parabrahma, Shakthi worshippers as Shakthi.

The great minds ‘garimala buddhi and ghanulu’ see greatness in him. The ‘alpa buddhi ’ in their pettiness may condemn and loose out this experience.

The Lotus size is indeed limited by the waters it grows in (indirectly hinting at the quality of the mind). There is no deficiency in You..

Did not Bhagiratha that day with his intense penance get the Ganga gushing down and filling the wells in its route? (The power of mind).. If you are Venkatachala Pati, you are accepting me.

Meaning
MSS
Lessons

Hari Naama & Vishnu Katha

a) Brahma kadigina Paadamu

It begins with reference to Vamana Avataar and King Bali.

The earth happily measured one foot chelagi vasudha kolichina nee paadamu.
King Bali bore on his head this paadamu.
The lofty sky gaganam was kicked by this paadamu.

The paadamu protects the Cows (Parashuram avataar, Kamadhenu). The paadamu that liberated Ahalya Kaamini.. The paadamu that danced on the Kaliya Snake.. The paadamu massaged by Sri Sati Lakshmi Devi.. The paadamu on whom Yogis set their destination.

MSS
Lessons
Meaning

b) Cheri Yashodaku Sisuvu ittadu

Set in the enchanting Mohana Raga, an endearing song describing the charming personality of the Lord. Like a Hero Swag statement, Annamayya puts it very sweetly.

When Hari sees, he looks like this.. When he stands, he appears like this .. When he talks.. When he breathes..

And the devotees are swayed Purushottama .. the Best among People..

He is not just the ‘son’ of dear Yashoda, but also the ‘father’ of the mighty Brahma. cheri yashodaku.. shishu vithadu.. dhAruNi brahmaku.. thandriyu nithadu

TELUGU TIP: This work follows the pattern xx-ku yy-ithadu. 'ithadu' means 'he', 'ku' noun context means 'to'. To xx, he is yy. To Yashoda he is son, To Brahma he is father..

Ah.. His immersive ‘glances’..solasi chuchinanu. The Sun and Moon sprinkling his gaze.. surya chandrulanu..lali vedajalladu.. Such is he.. lakshaNudu.

When ‘standing’.. his charm outbeats the devathas nilichina niluvuna.. nikhila dEvathala. Such is his mighty personality.. ganivo ithadu.

When he ‘speaks’ mATalADinanu.. His speech is a store house of Virtues guNa rAsi that could produce a multitude of Universes. His ‘breath’ is the ocean samudram ithaDu that causes the chanting churning of the Vedas.. nikhila vEdamulu cATuva..

He is the mighty ghana purushudu. In his courtyard swarm the minds swayed in his love. Venkatadhipathidu is the destination for people like me.. sangathi maa vanti.. For his refugees sharaNAgathulaku.

MSS
Lessons
Meaning

c) Shriman Narayana

A beautiful Sanskrit composition interspersed with Telugu bit ‘nee’ meaning ‘your’.

Sriman Narayana.. Sriman Narayana.. Sriman Narayana.. ‘nee’ Sri padame sharanu.. Your feet is the only destination..

Brilliant wordplay with ‘kamala’ lotus

Kamala sati (your wife padma)
mukha kamala
(lotus face)
kamala hithe kamala priya
(lotus liking)
kamalekshana
(lotus eye)
Kamalasana hitha
(liking padmasana)
garudagamana Sreee kamalanabhani
(Brahma from lotus of navel)
padakamale sharanu
(my destination is your lotus feet)

And wordplay with ‘para’ absolute

Parama yogijana bhagyadheya
sri paramapurusha
paratpara
Paramatma
paramanu rupa

MSS
Meaning

d) Bhavamu-lona bahyamu-nandanu: Hari Namaas

Seems like the Hari Naamas are marching in this Song.. Beautiful and clever combinations of the Hari Naama and the accompanying verb.

bhAvamu lOna
bAhyamu nanduna
gOvinda gOvinda ani
koluvavO manasA …

Oh Mind.. From deep within and from outward acts, serve the almighty chanting “Govinda Govinda” (Rootword ‘go’ means ‘to move’ and ‘vinda’ is ‘to please’. He pleases the cows, the senses, the earth all of which are moving and hence aptly called ‘Govinda’)

hari hari hari hari .. hari anavo manasA

Oh mind chant “Hari Hari” (‘Haaa’ sounds means to forcefully dispel.. ‘Hari’ he who dispels fear misery darkness)

vishnuvu vishnuvani .. vedakavo manasA

By chanting “Vishnu Vishnu”, search for him. (‘Vish’ means ‘everywhere’, Vishnu, he who is everywhere. Aptly Annamacharya uses the verb search for Vishnu)

achyutha achyutha sharan anavo manasA

By chanting “achyutha achyutha”, O mind take refuge in him. He who has ended the Asuras.. He who is Adhi Anta Beginning and End for everything..

MSS
Lessons
Word Meanings

e) Anthayu Neeve

A beautiful weave of Bhakti, tattva gyaan and Hari Namaas. Annamayya deftly uses rhyming and befitting Hari Naamas to pair with the description. ‘Neeve’ ‘Neeve’ meaning ‘only you’ keeps repeating. If I were to hear Gita like tattva gyaan in Telugu.. this song it would be..

Anthaayu Neeve.. Everything is only You. You are so close to me.. You are my family, my wealth, my thoughts and my foundation. You are my body mind and the audience of my songs.. You are my support my guide.. You are the cause of this World.. You are the beginning middle and end of every act. You are my destination..

Anthaayu Neeve.. hari pundareekaaksha.. he who has robbed the world.. he who has large white eyes watching over.. well everything is yours
chentha naaku neeve Sreeraghuraama.. You are close to me.. well, Rama was kind and friendly to every one.

Kulamunu neeve govindudaa.. You are my family.. Well, Govinda was loved by his people
naa kalimiyu neeve karunaanidhi.. You are my treasure, O treasure of Compassion
naa talapunu neeve dharaneedhara.. You hold my thoughts, O holder of Earth
naa nelavunu
neeve neerajanaabha.. You are my foundation, O bearer of the Lotus Brahma

Tanuvunu neeve daamodara.. You are my body.. well was not your body tied to a mortar in a rope?
Manikiyu neeve madhusoodana.. You are my mind.. well did you not slay the desires of the mind and the demon Madhusoodana?
Vinikiyu neevae vitthaludaa naa.. You are my audience O Vittala
Venakamundu neevae vishnu dEvuDaa.. You are my support at the back and the guide at the front.. O Vishnu who is present everywhere

Puttugu neeve purushottama..You are the cause of birth.. O Best of Men
Kona.. nattanadumu neeve.. naaraayana..You are the beginning middle and end.. You carve our paths.. nara ayana)
Ittae Sree Venkateshwarudaa naaku
Nettana gathi inka neeve neeve You are my destination.

Music Lessons:

f) Marda Marda mama Bandhanaani: On Sudarshana Chakra

A unique Sanskrit composition in Ode to the Sudarshana Chakra.. Filled with Sound effects, it brings out vibrancy and energy in the chant. Bhagawad Gita’s Vishwaroopa like a reminder of the effulgence of Vishnu and the seeking for protection from the ocean of Samsaara..

The Vishwaroopa darshana bearing a grandeur of 1000 Suns..

The chakra that saved the devout Gajendra from the clutches of the Crocodile..

The Chakra that is mightier than a 1000 weapons and slays the evil.

Songs on Rama

a) Raamudu Raaghavudu

Ramudu.. Raghavudu.. born in the Sun dynasty ravi kula dithudu.. husband of Sita bhUmijaku patiyaina.. Is the treasure of Mankind puruSa nidhAnamu

He is the Para Brahma born from param-annam (porridge) drank after the great Putra Kaameshti yagya performed by father in order to beget children.

The effulgence that uplifts the good and punishes the bad..
surala rakSimpagan.. asura shikSimpaga.. divya tEjamu

You are in the lotus of the minds citta sarOjamulalO of the munis, yogendras. They are on the lookout for the effulgence and samadhi of Kaivalya Padam.

Shri Bala Krishna Prasad
Meaning
Lessons

Songs on Tirupati Venkatachala pati

girishnairpaintings

a) Shodasa Kala Nidhiki -Manasa Pooja

Reminds me of Shankara’s Shiva Manasa Pooja. To the treasure of the 16 art forms, my humble offerings..

My humble achamanam to the one washed by Ganges.. Humble naivedyam to he who got Amruta, Humble deepam to the effulgent powerful than a 1000 Suns, humble pushpa ghandha to the bearer of Earth dharanidhara etc etc.

b) Kondalalo nelakonna koneti rayalu vaadu

A beautiful song on the Lord of 7 hills. He who is fixated in the hills kondalu and the pond koneti.. The king of boons and wellwisher of all is he.. raayadu vaadu ..

Mention of his devotee stories.. He does not differentiate between rich and poor. He liberates those who are in intense devotion.

The potter Kumara dassu by name kuravati Nambi.. The king Tondaman chakravarthy who built the Tirupati temple.. The devotees Anantha Alawar, Tirumalai Nambi, Tirukachi Nambi from Kanchi..

Music
Meaning
Lessons

c) podaganti mayya — We have seen you

Annamacharya praises the lord of Tirupati with a series of wish filling Eulogies.. The choice of words and sounds are quite a feat bringing out the bhavana.

With Sandhi, “kanti” “see” becomes “ganti”.. Like in Tamil and Kannada “kandi piduche”, “kande na”

Podakantimi-ayya We have seen you O supreme one.. Do not leave us O Lord of Ponds.. kOnaeTi raayaDaa

The trail of wish giving eulogies

kaala meghamaa? Are you the black cloud fulfilling the desire of bhaktas?
O dharaNeedharaa.. Bearer of Earth?
Are you the wish-filling Parijatha tree? paarijaatamaa?

Are you the wish giving chinta mani or the cow Kamadhenu?kaamadhaenuvaa?

Vijaya Prakash
Meaning
Lessons

d) jagaDapu janavula jaajara

‘Jaajara’ genre of songs is accompanied by claps and the queen’s entrouge chelikattilu procession in the lovely moonlight celebratingwith flowers, pollen dust, perfumes etc.. And perhaps clapping in Quawali evolved from here says Anila Garimella garu

jagaDapu janavula jaajara is a popular post wedding song. There is fighting (jagada), teasing and the bed is creaking with sounds. There is festivities of sandal paste, flower and pollen dust.

Music
Lessons
Meaning

Lakshmi Devi

a) Ksheerabdi kanyakuku shri mahalakshmiku
A popular aarthi song to Goddess Lakshmi Devi. A beautiful varnana from top to bottom (kesh aadhi paryantham) of the Goddess accompanied by an effulgent neerajalam aarthi at the end of every verse.

TELUGU TIP: Every verse follows this pattern. 
To the xx.. To the yy.. To the zz neeraajanaM.
xx-ku, yy-ku, zz-ku neeraajanaM.
However, it switches from 'ku' to 'kini' for words ending with 'i' like Mahalakshmi-kini, nabhi-kiniIn my observation.. the sounds ‘umbu’ indicating plurality like in kuchumbulaku hastakamalaMbulaku gives a gentle pulling effect.

To the daughter of the Milky Ocean ksheeraabdhi kanyakaku .. to Sri MahaLakshmi.. one who resides on lotus neerajaa-layamunaku.. let us give neeraajanaM

To the lotus-eyed face jalajaakshi mOmunaku.. to the pretty bosom jakkava kuchaMbulaku.. let there full-moon-effulgent-like camphor neerajanaM nelakonna kappurapu neeraajanaM

To the one whose hair is pitch dark like a swarm of bees ali-veni.. hands joined in anjali mudra hastakamalaMbulaku.. neerajalam of steadfast emeralds. .. niluvu-maaNikyamula neeraajanaM

To the feet gentle like grassbeds charana kisalayamulaku.. to her well crafted plaintain like legs sa-keeya-ramba-oorulaku, ever-lasting pearl like neerajanam niratamagu muttaela neeraajanaM

Personally, I see Goddess Lakshmi in the grains around.. in the lotus stalks of the corn.. such well-crafted kernels, such milk in every seed.. ksheerabdi kanyaka.. Well, that’s my imagination..

Music by Bala Krishnagaru
Lessons
Meaning

b) Vachindi Alamel Manga

Here she comes with dazzling emerald bangles paccha kadiyaalu.

Bangaaru chei diviTilu.. vei vei.. 1000s of lamps being carried in hands and glowing around her.. Full of colours.. Filled with shringaaram rangu.. Maangalya jawaraalu for the Goddess.

Her sweet honey like kalakala talk.. The parrot or surrounding royal maids make the sound kilakila . Out beating Ramba and other women sathulu.

A beautiful anupraas repetetion of sounds 'la' and 'ka' like the trinkling of bells.
palukula tEniya lolukA centa
cilukalu kalakala palukA, ravala
giluku pAvalu mudduguluka mETi
kaliki cUpula monalu taLukani ciluka

The gait of Hari.. vayyari

Music Lessons

Bala Gopala

a) Bhavayaami Gopaala Baala

The dazzling sight of little krishna adorned with jewels, sounds of his waist bells and a mound of butter slipping through his hands.. What a sight for mother Yasodha..

mekhala, mani ghanta: waist girdle and bells making sound.

vilaasam , ujjwala: to shine and dazzle
ninaada: bells resonating
kara galita navanEtam.. butter slipping down his hands
ChaaTu naTana sweet walk.

MSS
Lessons
Meaning

b) Jo acchutananda Jo Jo Mukunda

A popular lullaby in Telugu households. My MIL’s mother taught me a different variant of this song.

Annamacharya takes various names which mean happiness, bliss and liberation. ‘Jo’ sound is used to put a kid to sleep.

jO achyutAnanda jO jO mukundA rAvE paramAnanda rAma gOvinda..

The verses refers to the various Leelas of Krishna.. Krishna delighting the house of Nanda. The cute and playful Krishna is a thief in the herds mandalaku donga.. mA muddu ranga.

Born in the milky ocean.. Removed fear from the Munis. Born to Vasudeva. He steals butter, implicates others.. Troublemaker to the women and a Cupid..

MSS
Lessons
Meaning

c) Mudda gare Yashoda

Annamayya deftly composes this song by weaving glories of Krishna Leela and comparing them with precious stones.

He is the darling pearl muttyamu of the courtyard of Yashoda. He is the son of Devaki, whose greatness cannot be written enough.

He is the manikyam of the shepherd women. He is the vajram defeating Kamsa.. the emerald ruling the 3 worlds.. the coral of Rukmini’s lips..

In one verse, so many constraints have been fulfilled. Is it for real I am singing this?

A Visual picture of little Krishna crawling in the courtyard of Yashoda. An inner meaning of Yashoda enjoying Krishna whereas Devaki’s efforts even words fail to describe.. And Comparing little Krishna with Pearl. And we have 3 words in cadence with ‘ma’ muddukaare mungiti mutyamu..

The more I read listen, the more fascinating it gets.

What a visual and scintillating description of the leelas. Even if we set aside the outpouring alliteration with navaratnas in every verse and all the rhyme in sounds.

To mother Yashoda whose love for her little one was oozing out. He is the darling mutyam of her courtyard. Muddu-kaare yashodaku.. munginiti mutyamu

The Mahima and greatness simply cannot be told in words.. He is the suta borne to Devaki.. Chepparani mahimalu.. Devaki suthudu

-

To every kind of shepherd woman (anta inta meaning big and small, all kinds).. He is the treasured maaNikyam (they are admiring in front of them gently) in their palm

He is the hard Vajra ruling over the obstinate Kamsa

And In all the 3 worlds, he is soaring in Garuda like the dazzling green Emerald

Ant yet in our own neighborhood, chinni krishna is one among us..

-

rathikeli rukhminiki rangumovi pagadamu

To the lovelorn Rukmini, he is the Orange pagadaam coral like enchanting lip.. (ra ru ra)

And for the Govardhana mountain, he is the mighty yellowstone Gomedikamu

And he is the Vaiduryam that sits between Shanka and Chakra

And he is kamalaakshudu the lotus eyed one .. our gati destiny and our care taker

-He is the yellow pushyaraagam that spread over the head of serpent kaalinga

He is the indraneela ruling over the Venkatardri hills

He is the divine gem churned from the milky ocean paala samudra..

And he is the childlike ageless padmanabha supporting this world..

Music
Lessons
Meaning

d) Itti mudduladi

paalu pOyyarE give him some milk

veDDu peTTarE deceive or cajole him

ooraDincharE console him O dear

tala ettarE lift by his head O dear

O dear.. That cute little one who has been playing around.. Where is he? Catch him and give him tummy full of milk.

Ah he feigns so much ignorance and causes us Gopikas all the trouble. With his little flower bracelet hand, he breaks a pot of hot butter and cries foul an ant bit him.. O lady cajole him for a 1000 times he wails with his tears rolling on his cheeks.

Like a thief, he quietly puts his hand in a pot of curd and cries aloud with drool all over that his hand it is stuck. Oh My.. Di some magic and console him.

He opens the box and slips in the wrong finger into the ring. Lord Venkatadri surely takes care of his devotees. Cajole him my dear and lift by his head..

Okapari Okapari Vayyari

Once.. Such a beauty and grandeur. The dazzle of camphor fire, chandan and Goddess shining in his heart. It seemed like the moon felt shamed and hid his head..

The melting camphor and sandal paste and the heat of Madana Mohana. It seemed like Lord of Samaja in rut showering out nectar on seeing the elephant gait gajagamana of the Goddess.

With the lustre of her ornaments on his darkness, it seemed like the darkness of the cloud embracing the glitter of lightning.

Ekkada Manusha janma

Human life is indeed special. Unlike plants and animals which go about happily fulfilling their chores and basic needs of food, shelter, procreation and sleep, we have a choice. A choice to quickly rise above the needs and worldly pull.

Annamayya says.. What is the purpose of this Human life. I have trusted only you. Alas.. I don’t forget food, senses and samsaara.. and forget Gyaan, tattva, teachers.. What is this Vishnu Maya?

Frequent Words (In progress)

athaDu: he
iTTi: so much, iTTe: like this
eDaa: where?
muddu: cute
ghana, garimala: lofty
koluchu: measure
niluvu: standing, set
kanduvagu: (kanda) division/sects, season, place

More

adivo alladivo shri hari vaasamu
Look there! That is the abode of Shri Hari.. It appears like the many hoods of Adisesha
aakati veLala
While sufferring from Hunger of calamity, only Hari can uplift
Ippuditu Kalaganti
Just now I had a dream.. I had the darshan
ItaDe raghuraamu
Lord Venkateshwara is RaghuRama himself the untainted warrior
UgguveTTare
Yashoda's efforts to make baby Krishna have Uggu
*Oruke dorakunaa
Tattva gyaan to obtain Moksha through sadhana and when not tintillated by the external world.
*Ekkadi Maanusha Janmamau
Pitfalls in Saadhana
emAni pogaDavacchu
How do I describe the grandeur of the Lord
AinadEdi kAni dandulo
What is right? What is wrong?
O Pavanatmaja
Valour of Hanumana
Aunayya Jandavu
Lord is praised here as Prahlada varada..
Anganalere aaratulu
Aarati for Hari

--

--

Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Music, Linguistics & Patterns