Inexplicable bhava

The Nayanmars have shown that it is possible to establish direct connection with God through bhakti, service and love to Siva. In a discourse, Sri R. Asokan drew attention to Sekkizhar’s deft portrayal of the spontaneous, unique and out-of-the world devotional experience of Kannappan Nayanar. It is clear that Sekkizhar enters Kannappan’s spirit of service and selfless bhakti when he relates this episode.

Kannappan is born in the family of hunters and is known as Thinnan. He grows up imbibing the way of life of the hunters. At a young age, the mantle of headship falls on him and he rises to the occasion. Once, his hunting expedition leads him to a hill. He is hungry and thirsty and looks around for water. He sees the Lord’s image on top of the hill and is drawn to it. He is overwhelmed with emotions of love and compassion towards the Lord who is the embodiment of compassion. But to Kannappan the Lord is all alone and hungry and this thought guides his actions. As he climbs the hill, he is breathless but in his eagerness to see the Lord, he does not care about such physical discomforts. He cooks the meat, makes sure that it tastes good, before offering it to Him.

Then he sees blood in one eye of the Lord and feels sad. His state of mind is focused only in giving immediate relief to God. He does not think that God who takes care of the entire creation can take care of Himself. He searches for some medicine and finding none, he decides to offer his own eye. The blood flow stops and he is elated. But he finds the other eye also has blood and this time he does not think twice and is ready to offer his other eye. It is the inexplicable bhava that makes a true devotee.

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