Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hindu Gods and Untouchability-Part 2

In part 1 of this series,I had written about the amazing mercy of Udupi Krishna on "Saint Kanakadasa".In this post ,I will discuss about the grand uncomparable devotion of Kannappa Nayanar.All the posts in this series will strongly emphasize the fact that Untouchability was imposed on the society by the practicing selfish Hindus but not by Gods as proclaimed by many people.

The story of Kannappa Nayanar from 'Periya puranam' written by Sekkizhar(சேக்கிழார்) in Tamil is one of my favourites.It not only emphasizes the fact that devotion and Gods are above caste,creed and all differences,but it beautifully depicts how God accept the offerings of a devotee when the devotee is full of pure and loving devotion.Rituals,Methods adopted during puja by learned pandits are of miniscule value when compared to the Methods by which Kannappa nayanar served his Lord.

Lord Shiva and Kannappa Nayanar

Kannappa Nayanar was born as 'Thinnan'(திண்ணன்) in a hunter community to the supremo of the community in Uduppur, Naagan( நாகன் )and his wife Thatthai( தத்தை ) after the childless couple prayed for very long years to Lord Murugan. Thinnan grew up learning hunting and other martial arts as per their tradition.

When he reached his sixteenth age,oneday subjects of that territory came with a complaint to Naagan about the increasing menace of wild animals in that area.Naagan found it difficult to lead the uphill task of hunting because of his age,so he asked his son Thinnan to lead the group of hunters.The group also accomplished the task successfully but for a wild pig which was so evasive.So Thinnan sent back all other hunters back and was accompanied by only two of his fellow hunters,Naanan and kaadan and chased the pig. The pig went faraway near the foot of Thiru Kaalahasthi Hill near present day Tirupati and got killed by one of the sharp daggers of Thinnan. Three of them found that they had come very long way from their home,but felt very hungry and Thirsty,so Thinnan ordered the duo to cook the pig and bring some water.Kaadan started cooking the pig and Naanan and Thinnan set out in search of water.Naanan told about the nearby river, so both of them walked towards it.

Both of them reached the hill and Thinnan started experiencing a unique emotion which was lessening the burden of his sins.He started feeling very pure,peaceful innerself and asked about the reason to Naanan.Naanan told that at the top of the hill is the abode of 'Kudumi Thevar'(Lord Shiva).

As soon as Thinnan reached the Temple,he saw Lord shiva's idol ,he was overwhelmed with joy ,he rushed and embraced his Lord.His innocent mind started thinking that there is nobody to guard his lord in the forest which was full of Wild animals.So he decided to stay there to guard his Lord.He saw many flowers and leaves on the idol,Naanan explained that once when he accompanied his father to this temple,the priest was doing abhishek(holy bath) to the Lord and was offering flowers and leaves.Immediately Thinnan thought that that should be the way God likes to be worshipped.He started worrying that God should be feeling hungry without food now.He decided to go and bring some food for his beloved God.By the time Kaadan came to say that pig is cooked and ready to eat.Thinnan who had not taken food for many hours had completely forgotten his Hunger and thirst,was so obsessed with the God,He went and and selected the best pieces of flesh of cooked pig.On seeing his actions,both Naanan and Kaadan thought that Thinnan has gone crazy about the Lord and it is apt to bring his Father Naagan.So both of them left.

Thinnan who was least bothered about his companions took the flesh pieces in his arrow like flowers arranged in a garland,went to the river collected water with his mouth and stored in it,pluck some wild flowers and leaves and inserted in his thick hair and went to the top of the hill.There he removed all the flowers and leaves which were already on the idol with his footwear and showered the flowers on God which were inserted in his hair ,Did "Abhishek' to God with the water stored in his mouth(which is considered unholy) and offered the flesh pieces to God by feeding with his hands as a mother would do to her infant.Thinnan's heart was brimming with love and devotion.Whole night he safeguarded the Saviour of this World without sleeping.

Next day Early morning ,he went to bring food and water to his dear God.Meanwhile "Shivakochariyar" the priest of the temple came to do the daily puja.He was shocked to see the strewn pieces of meat and bones around the idol ,Feeling sad,he cleaned the entire place and consecrated to bring back the holiness(!!!) of the place and went back.

Entire day,Thinnan was hunting ,collected firewood,cooked a tasty food out of deer flesh and reached the hill top before sunset.As the previous day,he did puja to God with his unique method and fed the Lord with meat.Without sleeping in the night ,he safeguarded the place.Again in the morning he ventured out for hunting.Everyday the dumbstruck priest cleaned the place and consecrated.He was filled with gloom and sad and thought that this was due to his negligence towards God.This continued for six days.Everyday Thinnan brought different items like Honey to feed his Lord.He collected different types of flowers,leaves,cooked different animals and served Lord.

Shivakochariar who was petrified by these happenings prayed to God to show the culprit who was doing such a misdeed.Lord Shiva appeared in the dream of the priest and praised Thinnan's devotion "Don't think that he is doing a wrong thing.Water which he spits from his mouth to bathe me is Holier than Ganga.The flowers which he offers me from his hair are purer than flowers offered by all holy men.whatever he does ,it is with pure devotion,when he places his foot on me to clear the place ,I feel like a mother who takes pride on a child's tender foot which kicks her innocently.Tomorrow,Go and hide there to witness the grand display of his extraordinary devotion".

Next morning,seventh day ,perplexed Sivakochariar went to the temple, did the puja as usual and hid behind to watch the wonderful event with fear and astonishment.

Thinnan was rushing towards the temple as he was late and he was seeing bad omens on the way.Quite tensed ,he reached the temple ,but to his horror he saw one of the Lord's three eyes bleeding.He was shocked and tried to stop the bleeding,when it didn't he rushed out to pick some healing herbs and applied it on the bleeding eye.But couldn't stop the bleeding.Immediately a wild idea struck his mind,he used his arrow to pluck one of his eye and took his eye and applied(pasted) on the bleeding eye.Wonder of wonders!Bleeding stopped.Thinnan jumped with joy!But his joy was shortlived.The other eye started bleeding.Thinnan was not that tensed now.Now he knows the technique.

The stunned priest was watching all these with astonishment.He couldn't believe his eyes nor he has never seen such a great selfless devotion.

Thinnan was already bleeding because of the plucked eye,but unmindful of his pain,he was worried how to paste the second eye on Lord if he loses his second eye also,because he will not be able to see anything.So he placed his foot on the bleeding eye of the Lord as a marking and took the arrow to pluck his second eye.

At that glorious moment,Lord Shiva appeared and held his devotee's hands which were about to pluck the eye,and ordered "Nillu Kann appa!". (கண் அப்ப ) meaning "Stop Kannappa" Appa in Tamil is to apply or paste."Kann" in Tamil is eye. Since Thinnan was trying to paste his eye to God ,Lord Shiva lovingly honoured him by calling Thinnan by that name.

Shivakochariar could only silently realise the power of devotion on seeing this grand event.

This incident is one of the major testimony which stands as a proof that God is above all differences like Castes,education,race and all such worldly barriers.

CU in next post!


1.Chapter "Periyapuranam" in "Hindu maha samudram" by Cho Ramaswamy which is based on "Periyapuranam pozhippurai " by Ki.Va.Ja



Prasanna's Pen Speaks ... said...

Good post Padma...Actually in this earth there are four places famous for shiva worship... Agasthia in his version telling that four places are Varanasi,Chidambaram,Kalahasthi and Madurai.Kalahasthi is the place where he proved Bhakthi has no dweshamtowards lower caste.This post make me to remember the Chakkili incident that was in Adishankara's life in KALADI. eXPECTING THAT MATTER ALSO IN NEXT POST...

KRISH said...

padma of all the four blogs i like this blog very much and i was stunned reading the narration and it was like reading a bakthi malar . in every blog of spiritual you write about different gods and it will enlighten us. continue the spiritual path. may god bless you, and your family.

RAMKI said...

hinuism never preach untouchability. it is all man made.the 4 varnas were there.according to their nature of job.nowadays all are doing all jobs but speak abt caste.brahmins enter politics that is kshatriyas job. they do buisiness like vysyas.they do misc work like other community.