Intro : Annamayya, aka annamaacaarya, lived during the 15th century. It was the time when poets sought royal patronage. It was also the time when Telugu poets began to display great mastery of language, imagination and wit in their works. However, Annamayya shunned both and paved the way for the genre of lyric poetry in Telugu; he is aptly called "padakavitaa pitaamaha" and "sankeertana aacaarya". He became a model for the later lyric poets such as Purandaradasa, Bhadracala Ramadasu, Kshetrayya and Tyagaraju. Annamayya was not only a prolific poet, but also wrote with most variety. His songs can be broadly classified under devotional, erotic and philosophical titles. He sings the glory of Sree Venkateswara of Tirumala in all his songs.
The selection in this article is a "maelukolupu", wake-up call to the Lord. From waking-up to putting-to-bed, many services are daily performed to Sree Venkateswara; Annamayya composed many songs to accompany each of these services. This song is tuned in Bhoopala Raga, appropriately early morning melody.
vinnapaalu vinavale vinta vintalu
pannagapu doema tera pai ketta vaeLayyaa | vinnapaalu |
tella vaare jhamekke daevatalu munulu
allanalla nanta ninta adigoe vaarae
callani tammi raekula saarasapu gannulu
mella mellanaey vicci maelu kona vaeLayyaa | vinnapaalu |
garuDa kinnara yaksha kaaminulu gamulai
virahapu geetamula vinta taaLaala
pari pari vidhamula paaDaeru ninnadivo
siri mogamu deraci cittaginca vaeLayyaa | vinnapaalu |
ponkapu seshaadulu tumburu naaradaadulu
pankaja bhavaadulu nee paadaalu caeri
ankela nunnaaru laeci alamaelu manganu
vaenkaTaeSuDaa reppalu vicci cooDa vaeLayyaa | vinnapaalu |
A rendition in English
You have to listen to supplications, the variety of them
Oh Lord, it is time to lift the mosquito-net of the snake (1)
It's already dawn, the Sun rose, the Gods and Rishis
Are present all around you, come see!
Those beautiful eyes, like the petals of white lotus,
It's time to open gently (2) and wake up ? You have to listen ?
The women of Garuda, Yaksha and Kinnara tribes
In longing compositions (3) and in unusual meters
In a variety of ways, they sing your glory, come see!
It's time to unveil your glorious (4) face and pay attention ? You have to listen ?
The obedient Sesha and Tumbura and Narada
Brahma and all other gods reached your feet
waiting eagerly; Get up (5) ; It is time, Oh Venkatesa!
to open your eyelids and look upon Alamelu Manga (6) ? You have to listen ?
I confess, the English rendition doesn't catch a fraction of the poetic beauty of the original. However, I'd like to point out a couple of interesting features.
1. Mosquito-net of the snake. Vishnu sleeps on the bed of Adisesha, the serpent of thousand heads. Devotees believe that Adisesha came down to earth in the form of Tirumala hills to make a bed for Venkateswara. However, the Lord is no longer in the middle of the milk-ocean - he is on a hill, in the middle of a forest. There may be mosquitoes to disturb His sleep! So The thousand heads of Adisesha form a mosquito-net to protect him - beautiful imagery.
2. Open the eyes gently - the poet realizes how sleep is attractive to the Lord - he doesn't want to startle him - so urges him to wake up gently.
3. viraha geetamula - virahamu means separation or pangs of separation. The Lord had been away from the devotees only for the night, but even that separation had been unbearable to the devotees, so that they are singing songs of longing early in the morning.
4 and 6. siri = lakshmi and also prosperity. this is a pun on the words - one meaning is as noted above. the other meaning is, "it is time to unveil the face of Lakshmi, your wife, and pay attention to it!" Quite a wonderful suggestion of Srungara. A similar suggestion is made in 7. Alamelu Manga, form of Lakshmi, is the consort of Sree Venkateswara. She is often the heroine of Annamayya's Srungaara Padams.
5. By the time of the last stanza - the poet lists all the important gods who are in waiting and almost issues an order to the Lord to get up - no more gently waking. Then, he immediately softens this harshness by saying that it is time to look upon your consort!