The recently released book Annamayya Anna Maata, a collection of 60 songs composed by Saint Annamacharya is yet another attempt to analyse the poet who had been relegated to the background ages ago and has been retrieved by Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam in a move to spread Hinduism three decades ago. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise to Carnatic music as musicians were drafted to provide a rather flexible yet classical framework to these ancient Telugu songs and popularise them through concert performances.
Inspired by the TTD, many voluntary groups or individuals began their own research of Annamacharya and claimed to have unearthed scores of his verses that have not seen the light of the day till date! Among them, some have been of course penned by his son and grandson but by and large they go under the saint-poet’s name. Not all the songs of this particular collection are absolutely new and unknown. Some of them are very popular but the book tries to define each and every term used by Annamacharya in the songs, analyse the song and philosophical content embedded within the seemingly rustic and archaic poetic Telugu.
The book is an admixture of philosophical, lullabies, romantic songs and so on in a random fashion. It is difficult for the reader to change tack from comprehending a highly philosophical content (Anni Mantramulu; Evvarevvari Vaado Ee Jeevudu, etc) to something as frivolous as flowers, scents and capricious maidens (Jaajara…) and try to gauge the poet through these multifarious emotions! Placing Ksheerabdi Kanyakaku… was of course apt. That Annamacharya was a multidimensional poet-devotee of Lord Venkateswara is an established fact going by the gamut of his works. But the reader cannot be expected to be multi-tasking with his mind! Some sort of sorting out of songs content-wise would be wise and make for easy understanding. By and by, not all compositions are attributed to Annamacharya; there is an intermingling of his son’s poetry too. Concepts of Vaishnavism like madhura bhakti, excessive involvement with physical description, personification of idol/deity could have been explained by the author at the very beginning so that the non-Vaishnava reader could glean the underlying spirituality of the seemingly erotic interludes that dominate certain songs. This is more than necessary for the younger set of musicians/dancers.
Tadepalli Patanjali, the author had already serialised these set of songs in a weekly Telugu magazine, but compiling them in a book serves a greater purpose. The language and explanation is lucid. Sujanaranjani ought to be complimented for undertaking this onerous task of bringing Annamacharya to the doorstep of all those interested in literature and fine arts. The cover design by Bapu is attractive and meaningful.
Annamayya Anna Maata
For copies Sujanaranjani, SRT 922, Sanathnagar; Ph: 04023705440/9849302342
Price Rs. 200