Today we shall discuss the story of the greatest Shiva devotee, Kannnapa.
The degree of his sacrifice and selfless love is commendable.
He is perhaps the most famous among the nayanars.
Kannappa’s early life
In South India, there was a tribal leader named Nagan.
After great prayers, he had a son named Thinnan (means heavy).
At the age of 16 itself, Thinnan had mastered all weaponry.
He was adept at archery and throwing spears.
Since Nagan was aging, he announced his son Thinnan as the new leader of his group.
One day, Thinnan hunted a boar in the dense forest.
Two servants accompanied him.
However, the journey was exasperating and they felt extreme hunger and thirst.
The servant suggested-
Across that huge tree, there is a mountain.
The river named Suvarna flows under it.”
Thereafter, all the three set off to quench their thirst.
Eventually, Thinnan expressed his desire to climb the mountain.
The servant informed him-
“That Mountain is a wonderful spot. There is a Shiva temple on top.”
On climbing that mountain Thinnan felt a deep attraction for that place. All his hunger and thirst simply vanished.
Thinnan was overpowered with emotions
He quickly hugged the Shiva linga with love.
Incessant tears poured from his eyes.
“My sweet lord, Do you stay alone amidst these wild animals?
Don’t you have any friends here?”
His heart was filled with loving emotions.
In his meditative trance his bow simply dropped off.
On seeing a few leaves and wild flowers lying over the shiva linga, he asked- “Who has kept these offerings.”
The servant replied “I have come here many a times with your revered father.
A Brahmin washes the shiva linga with cold water and places these flowers.
Then he blabbers some mantras. It must be him.”
Even Thinnan felt like worshipping the lord.
Since he was unaware of the right methodology of worship, he decided to feed the hungry lord some meat.
Thinnan faced difficulty leaving.
His condition was like the cow who doesn’t’ want to lose sight of her first-born calf.
How Kannappa offers meat?
He said with great simplicity-
“My sweet lord, I shall go and cook some meat with my own hands.
I don’t feel like leaving you like this. But I see you are hungry.
So, I must go and get you some food.
Thus, the tribal hunter left.
Thinnan cooked the meat and tasted it to ensure a good eating experience for his lord.
Being hungry himself, he chose to serve his lord.
For Abhishek he filled his mouth with water. He also carried some flowers on his hair.
In the scorching heat, he carried the meat in one hand while his arrow kit in the other and set off with great speed.
With time even his servants left him.
Thinnan went running inside the temple with his slippers on. With great love, he dusted the flowers with his feet.
For abhisheka he spilled the water from his mouth and quickly placed the meat before the lord.
Then with great love in his mother tongue he requested the lord to start eating.
It was getting dark. To protect the lord from wild animals, he decided to stay back and guard the linga holding his bow and arrow.
The Brahmin Sivagochariar came next morning and was aghast to see footprints and meat lying around the linga.
He began to lament- “Oh lord what is this?
He then cleaned the temple with great difficulty and returned to his home.
Thinnan came back once again and repeated his same routine.
He selected the choicest meal for the lord and said-
“Oh lord, Today’s meat is much tastier than yesterday.
I have squeezed some honey today”
In this manner Thinnan spent 5 days losing all consciousness of his body.
The Brahmin would keep cleaning the mess.
The Brahmin once cried out to the lord “Oh lord please forgive my sins, and stop this once and for all.”
Lord Shiva appears in the dream
The lord appeared in his dream and said-
“My friend, you don’t know my tribal devotee.
He doesn’t know anything other than me.
Whatever he does is for my pleasure alone.
When he clears the flowers from my head, it is more pleasurable than my own son Skanda’s embrace.
The water he spits from his mouth seems purer than the Ganges.
The flowers of his hair are dearer than celestial offerings.
And. When he lovingly asks me to eat his food, his calls are far sweeter than the hymns of rishis.
To evaluate his devotion, come tomorrow and stand behind me.
The pujari couldn’t sleep the entire night.
Next Morning when he finished his prayers he hid behind the shivalinga.
Thinnan sacrifices his eyes
This was the 6th day of Thinnan’s resolve.
On his way he saw numerous inauspicious omens, so he feared his lord’s safety.
He went running to the spot with great speed.
On seeing blood oozing form the lord’s right eye, he began to sob and roll on the ground unable to bear the sight.
Even on wiping, the blood didn’t stop.
He then sat down plunged in grief.
In rage, He stomped out to kill the person who has caused such pain to the lord.
But he couldn’t find anybody so he hugged the lord and began to lament-
“I am a great sinner.
The inauspicious omens have all come true.
Oh lord, my father, my sweet one what has happened to you?
How can I help you?”
He got some herbal medicine and rubbed it on His eyes, still there was not improvement.
At that hour, he remembered a tribal saying-“Flesh for Flesh.”
So, without delay, Thinnan pecked his right eye with his arrow and slowly pasted it on the lord’s bleeding eye.
The blood stopped at once.
The temple began to reverberate in his joy.
But, now even the lord’s left eye began to bleed.
At this Thinnan quickly placed his feet on the left eye marking the spot.
Lord Shiva appears
As he went to peck his other eye, the lord quickly extended his hand and pulled him to his side.
He said “Stop Kana, Kana stop.”
Kana means eye and son as well.
Since, Thinnan had sacrificed his eye, the lord called him Kannappa.
Then, the devas showered flowers on seeing Kannapa’s unparalleled devotion
The lord continued-
“You are the very personification of love and sacrifice.
You shall forever stay with me.”
Thus, the priest Sivagochariar understood the true secret of devotion.
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