Sri Annamacharya (1408-1503)
Annamacharya, the composer, sang many songs in which he hailed God as his sole refuge and support. Later he had the realisation that he had been trying to deceive God by his words. Then a great change came over him. We should realise that we cannot please God by our books or our songs or by our learning and scholarship. Nor is it possible to please God by intellectual eminence or clever tricks. Annamacharya declared, “The degree of everyone’s (spiritual) attainment depends on the nature of his thoughts. Oh Lord! Whatever the feeling with which one envisages You, You appear to him within that form”. Divine Grace is in proportion to the measure of your devotion. You can take from the vast ocean only the amount of water your vessel can contain.
- “Wealth or Grace?”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 31,
July 17, 1988, Prasanthi Nilayam
No distinction should be made between Siva and Vishnu. The composer Annamacharya declared, “While uttering Linga! Linga! Sivalinga! Do not forget, Oh man! Ranga! Both are one”. Whether the vehicle of the Lord is a bull or an eagle, the Lord is one and the same. Annamacharya indicated how this Lord is to be worshipped. To perform ablutions for the idol of the Lord he went in search of pure and sacred water. He could not find it in the Ganga, which was polluted by water coming from the mouths of fish and frogs. He lamented over his inability to get completely pure, unpolluted water from any source. He declared, “The only pure water with which I can wash your Linga, Oh Siva, is that coming from my tear-filled eyes, which have been moved by the devotion in my heart filled with the sense of utter dedication to the Lord”. Annamacharya felt that only the tears filled with love of the Lord are pure enough for washing the Lord’s idol.
Each devotee has his own conception of the Divine. No single specific form can be ascribed to the Lord. The Lord’s grace is conferred on each devotee according to the level of his spiritual consciousness. Annamacharya exclaimed, “Oh Lord! You appear to each devotee according to the nature and measure of his realisation”.
- “What the Avatars Mean”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 23, February 23, 1990, Prasanthi Nilayam
Annamacharya hailed the feet of the Lord as those which had been washed by Brahma himself which are of Brahman Itself, which bear the burdens of the entire universe, and the burden of all human bodies. How is this done? The Divine is Purna-Swarupa (All-encompassing form). Just as the feet of the individual bear the burden of the human body, the subtle body of the Divine bears on its feet the entire universe. Without the feet the body cannot move.
Recognizing that the macrocosm and microcosm are constituted by the same five basic elements, man should realise that the Divine is present in everything. Hence, man should chant the name of the Lord from the core of his heart and take refuge in the feet of the Lord. Annamacharya declared, “Oh mind! Take refuge in the lotus feet of the Lord. They will relieve you of all your miseries and lead you to the Divine”.
- “Glory of the Lord’s Lotus Feet”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 26, October 7, 1993, Prasanthi Nilayam
Each one can explore the Truth of God only as far as his capacity; moral, intellectual and mental, and delve into the mystery. One can collect from the ocean only as much water as his vessel holds. God is immeasurably vast; He is beyond the reach of the most daring imagination. A pupil of a particular standard in school has to study the texts prescribed for pupils of that level of intelligence. Annamacharya, the mystic poet, realised the limitation imposed by one’s own failings, He sang:
“To what extent our minds do reach,
To that extent your vision we get”.
- “The Message of Shivarathri”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 17, February 29, 1984, Prasanthi Nilayam
The Saint Annamacharya sang, ‘Enta Maatramuna Evaru Talachina Anta Maatrame Neevu’ (Whatever form and attitude You are pictured with, You assume that form).
- “Krishna and Balarama in Mathura”,
Summer Showers in Brindavan 1995, Brindavan
Note: Annamayya was born in 1408 at Tallapaka in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh. A prolific Vaishnavite saint-composer, he is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s Nandaka (sword). He composed 32,000 Keertanas (devotional songs) in praise of Sri Venkateshwara, the Lord of Tirupati. These strongly influenced Carnatic music compositions and continue to act as a beacon light for the present-day society by advocating practice of human values. He was honoured with the title of ‘Andhra Pada Kavita Pitamaha’ (Godfather of Telugu form of poetry) and is regarded as the first ‘Vaggeyakara’ (a person who can compose lyrics, music and sing) of Telugu Literature. In his Keertanas, he espoused themes of morality, devotion, Divine Love, and opposition towards untouchability. He lived for 94 years and merged in the Lord in 1503 at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh.