Annamacharya reportedly wrote 32000 lyrics. And went on singing them, strumming his compact veena or Tmbura one of which he held in his hands always. All of the lyrics are in praise of his dear Lord of the Seven Hills, Lord Venkateswara. Many of them are metaphysical in nature. Many more are full of devotion for the Lord. There are many others which describe the love life of the Lord and his consorts There are still more in which Annamayya saw the Lord and his consorts in the role of common folk eking about a mundane existence.
With great foresight, his grandson got all of them transcribed on copper plates, with the munificience of a local chieftain.
These invaluable copper plates lay dormant, undetected for over half a millennium in a small dingy chamber in the temple of The Lord at Tirumala, guarded on an outer wall, by a small statue of Annamayya, himself. But even without these copper plates several of the lyrics survived, being sung by generation after generation of common folk, all the bygone centuries along. Many of the festivals and rituals described in these songs survive to this day. Still, these ancient lyrics, like fossils from a bygone era, bring to life the forgotten lives and times of people of yore.
They were fortuitously discovered, about a century ago . The ragas and the beats for the songs were denoted with the lyrics, but no detailed notation was given evidently to save the transcription effort. So during the past some decades, people began setting them to music and sing as they pleased. The Annamachaya project brought about a measure of uniformity in the rendering of the songs, by commissioning great musicians like Bala Murali Krishna, Nedunuri Krishna Murthy, Garimella Balakrishna Prasad, Sobha Raju and others to set these songs to music.
The familiarity of these composers not only with the classical South Indian Music but also the other genres of Indian Music, and in some cases even the western music, have resulted in many beautiful compositions for many of these songs.
Here is a translation by me, of one of the many of these beautiful lyrics I like. This lyric is set to music in Mohana ragam and sung by Garimalla Bala Krishna Prasad. The lyric describes the Lord setting about to battle the demons.
“Just as you rode deftly on your horse, you spewed forth myriads of scintillating visions.
Chafing your shoulder on either side, you had two golden-hued quivers full of bunches of sharp arrows.
The heavy mace, the conch-shell, the sharp, shining discus, the bow, and the sword, – they shone forth like a thousand suns.
In one of your hands, you had a shield adorned with the coils of the great serpent Sesha, in the other you held a fearful comet ready to serve you in the battle as a mighty spear.
Sporting a stiff plait of dark hair, your consort, donning the role of the Goddess of Victory, rode behind you,, holding you in tight embrace,. She slaps you hard with her palm on your back, oh , Lord Venkateswara, even as her big firm, shining breasts exude pride, to spur you on to win the battle. “