By Swami Harshananda
Religous didactic literature, especially of the mythological type, has tried to convince the masses that God is more pleased with the pure devotion with simple heart than with the ostentatious devotion of rituals and allied paraphernalia. Kaṇṇappa is one of the 63 Śaiva saints. He is the tenth among them pictured in such works.
Mention in Literary Works
His story is given in some of the scriptures like:
- The Tamil Periyapurānam of Sekkilar, 11th century CE
- Kannada literary work like Vrsabhendravijaya of Saḍakṣari (17th century CE)
- Kannada Ragales of Harihara (13th century CE)
Climacteric Event in Kaṇṇappa's Life
Kaṇṇappa was the chief of the hunters living at the foot of the hills near Kālahasti, now in Andhra Pradesh. Once Śiva appeared in his dream and asked him to worship the Śivaliṅga in the nearby forest. Kaṇṇappa soon discovered the Śivaliṅga he had seen in the dream in a nearby desolate temple. He started worshiping it in the most unorthodox and even abominable ways with meat and flowers worn by him on his own body. The brāhmaṇa priest doing regular worship used to find the liṅga ‘desecrated’ every day.
One day when he was hiding in the temple to catch the culprit, he found Kaṇṇappa entering. Just at that time, blood started oozing from the eye of Lord Siva’s liṅga. Kaṇṇappa plucked one of his eyes and fixed it on the liṅga. Then the second eye on the liṅga also started bleeding. When Kaṇṇappa was about to pluck his other eye also, the Lord appeared before him and blessed him.
Kaṇṇappa got back his eyes and enjoyed the bliss of seeing Śiva and adoring him. The brāhmaṇa priest fell at his feet on realizing the greatness of this devotee.
- He was also known as Beḍara Kaṇṇappa, the head of the hunters’ tribe.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore