By Swami Harshananda
Aṇṇamācārya (A. D. 1424-1503) of Tāllapākam village in the Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh a saint who was not only a great scholar in Sanskrit and Telugu languages but also an inspired composer of devotional poetry.
He was born to Nārāyaṇa Sṅri and Lakṣmamma in an orthodox brāhmaṇa family. He settled down at Tirupati, a renowned place of pilgrimage, even in early youth. Having taken initiation in the Śrīvaiṣṇava tradition from one Viṣṇusvāmin he then studied Vedānta under the then pontiff of the Ahobila Maṭha, Śrī Śaṭhagopa Yatīndra. He also gained mastery over the Tamil Prabandhams. He had great devotion to Lord Veṅkaṭeśvara, the presiding deity of Tirupati.
It is said that he used to sing everyday in the early morning before the deity. Even on the last day of his life he did so and then got merged in Him. According to some popular lores, Purandara Dāsa (A. D. 1484-1564), the musician-saint of Karnataka, is said to have met him at Tirupati and got inspiration from him to compose songs in the vernacular as exercises in music lessons.
Aṇṇamācārya’s compositions had been inscribed on copper plates and preserved in the temple of Veñkateśvara for posterity. Among his works in Sanskrit are Veñkatācala-māhātmyam and Sañkīrtana- laksanam. The Telugu works include Dvipada-Rāmāyana, Śrñgāramañjarl and Veñkateśa-śataka, apart from about 12,000 kīrtanas or songs.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore