A hunter's way to salvation - Kannappa Nayanar
In todays world it is difficult to get the levels of intensity in devotion that our ancients had. Devotion is something that is freely available to anyone, it needs to churned and expressed in the right direction for better spiritual evolution. It independent of time, stature or materialism. Its a simple equation of emotion with the Lord.
One such example of a great devotee of Lord Shiva who didn't think much when it came to ritual or purity is Tinna a hunter. All he knew was to hunt, and get home the meat of his killing and protect his tribe. He was a great successor to his father who was the chief of the tribe.
One day after the hunt Tinna came to rest at an old Shiva temple. His Love for the Lord and the sanctity of the place made him decide he didn't want to go home but wanted to continue staying there and worshiping the Lord. He would take a bath and collect water in his mouth to bathe the Lord, he would chew at the meat and give the best pieces to the Lord and decorate the Linga with flowers that he tucked on his head and took back to the temple. After abhishekam he would stay at the door step and guard the shrine chamber.
In the morning a priest often came to the temple to perform the puja and found flowers and meat scattered all around the Linga every night. This upset him a lot and he would clean up the temple again and offer his worship. He would sorrowfully leave the temple and come back to see the same offerings the next day. He prayed deeply to the Lord to give him an answer. The Lord appeared in his dream and instructed him to watch overnight to see what happens at the temple.
Next night the priest arrived at the temple as instructed. When he saw the Shiva Linga he couldn't believe his eyes. The Lord had opened his eyes and was now looking at him. He fell on the ground in adoration. When he got up, one of the eyes were profusely bleeding. The priest got worried and decided to make a hasty exit.
Later Tinna came to the temple with the flowers tucked in his hair and water in his mouth and fresh meat in his hands as an offering. When he stepped into the temple, he was shocked with what he saw. He dashed to the Linga and tried to bathe it and clean the eye that was bleeding. It still refused to stop. Tinna finally decided to replace the eye with one of his eyes. He took out his arrow and dug into his own socket and offered his eye to the Lord. When he replaced the eye, the bleeding stopped for a while and then again started in the other eye. Tinna decided to give up his other eye. He placed his foot on the eye of the Shiva Linga to mark the spot and took out the arrow to dig out the second eye. When he was about to do it, Lord Shiva appeared out of the Linga and stopped him and blessed him telling him to come with him to Kailasa.
Tinna came to be known as Kannappa Nayanar in the years to come. His shrine now resides on a hill near the Swarnamukhi river at Kalahasti.
Also read: Kalahasti - the land where Vayu is felt
Photo courtesy: Shaivam.org