Srikantha Krishnamacharya: First Telugu vaaggeyakara
Simhadri also known as Simhachalam in North Coastal Andhra has been a highly religious musical and cultural centre. The supreme deity there is Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. Srikanta Krishnamacharya was of the 12th Century. In those days he was the most celebrated vaggeyakara. The program Annamayya Paataku Pattabhishekam, (a coronation to the songs and lyrics of Annamayya), is highly appreciated now all over the world. Three decades ago began a study of Srikanta by an enthusiastic music lover Vinukonda Murali Mohan, a retired employee of the SBI.
Srikantha was earlier than even Purandaradasa. Evidence of this historical fact goes back to Prataparudra Charithra. Srikantha Krishnamacharyulu offered worship in the presence of Bhadradri Ramadasu and Simhachala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy. It is believed that Krishnamacharya authored about 4 lacs of sankeertaanas. Kakatiyas ruled Orugallu between 1295 and 1393. When Krishnamacharya was born Prataparudra was the emperor. The emperor was attracted by his compositions and invited the great musician and honoured him with power over 50 villages and gave him an agrahara. After some time Krishnamacharya reached his village and helped the poor and needy. He contributed to the building of the village Kallur. He followed Vaishnawa tradition, being a devotee of Sri Maha Vishnu. Of all Simhagiri vachanas only 125 could be traced. These must have been written between 1295 and 1323 AD.
Krishnamayya was the very first Vaaggeyakara in Telugu. History described him as the composer of “Sankeertanas” where he described the great attraction of Lord Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy of Simhachalam. All these are historical facts. It was believed that one sankeerthan brought a rain of gold as described in the book “Siddeshwaracharitra”.
The Raaja of Vizianagaram even today is the “Aanuvamsika Dharmakartha” (As per custom and tradition of the temple the hereditary trustee gets the honour of worshiping the Lord first in the temple on special occasions). Dr.Ananda Gajapathiraju (Maharajah of Vizianagaram) the then hereditary trustee started the first Krishnayya’s Sankeerthanam in the temple in 2010, on Aashadha Sudda Dwadashi. It is then that Krishnamayya Project has come up in Visakhapatnam. The renowned Swarakartha (music composer) Sri Vinukonda Murali Mohan sang Krishnamayya’s compositions “Simhagiri Narahari Vachanalu” saw the light of the day then. Some of these Sankirthanas have been brought out in CD. Most of the Sankeerthanams had the concluding lines ended with the makutam “Simhagiri Narahari”.
Krishnamayya used a very simple language to make the prayer songs (Vachanas) melodious as well as easy to understand and appreciate. A few are translated hereunder:
O Lord! There are two things which cannot be obtained by mere study. One is the Love and Mercy of great Gurus and the other is to be always the Lord’s devoted servant. These two are those which cannot be learnt by study.
O Lord! Without the love and mercy of your devotees (Dasus) the efficacy over words without the guru anugraha, this ocean of karma cannot be crossed. Is it possible for anyone to bear the Suns' heat on the head! O Lord Simhagiri Narahari; it is only through the words of your Dasus they become venerable.
O Lord! It is wrong and sinful to worship other smaller ones and all other beliefs which think foolishly and speak ill of others and their faults. Don't your worshippers know that the Lord Simhagiri Narahari who kills the demoniac has all pervasive compassion and valour!