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Once, Kannap, who happened to be the head of the Bheel (tribal) community. Landed up in a temple, located in a remote jungle, after a hunt.
Temple housed an old idol of Lord Shiva. And upon noticing, the idol to be in a degraded state. Kannap got a little emotional. He was simple person at heart and felt—‘Shiva is alone in this jungle with countless wild and notorious animals. Hope no animal comes in the night and attacks him.’ By now it was evening and getting dark. Concerned, Kannap loaded his bow with an arrow and decided to guard the temple by standing across the door, where he spent the entire night.
At dawn, Kannap thought of doing puja in the temple. But truly speaking he didn’t know how to perform one. So, he went to the jungle and killed an animal and roasted its flesh on fire for prasad. He then climbed a tree and broke open a honeycomb and collected honey. Thereafter he collected everything in a leaf-bowl and then plucked some flowers and stuck them on his unruly hair and plaits. He then filled his mouth with water from the nearby river and reached the temple to perform his puja. The idol had some dry leaves and flowers rotting on it. Kannap, removed it, with his feet, as his hands were tied up. With one hand he was holding his bow and with the other he was holding the leaf-bowl filled with roasted flesh and honey. He washed the idol with the water in his mouth. And then he pulled out the flowers from his hair and started respectfully placing them in front of Shiva. Thereafter, he placed the leaf bowl in front of the idol. After which, in his simplicity he thought the puja is over, and then with his bow and arrow he started guarding the temple.
In all of this Kannap forgot about his home, his family, and so much so that he even forgot his hunger and his sleep. In his endeavour to safeguard his beloved God and performing the puja. He as if forgot his world and his own self and even his body.
But, surprisingly, in that very temple. Every morning a Brahmin also used to come from a distant village to perform puja and after the ritual he used to go back. He normally came when Kannap was away in the forest, hunting. And on finding morsels of flesh in the temple the Brahmin was saddened. He walked up to the river and got some fresh water and cleaned the temple. He bathed again to perform the puja. But this was not a matter pertaining to a particular day. When the Brahmin found, the temple in this condition every morning he decided, ‘today I’ll hide and see as to who is this person who is polluting and soiling the temple every day.’
Brahmin hid himself in the temple and started gazing to and fro from the camouflage. After a little while he was astounded to see a scary appearing bheel (tribal) carrying a bow and arrow on his shoulders. After seeing him. He did not have the guts to say anything. But when Kannap entered the temple. He was shocked to see that one eye of the idol was bleeding. He slowly kept the leaf-bowl on the ground and started weeping himself—‘Who is this devil who has hurt my God in the eyes?’
Immediately, Kannap loaded his bow and ran out of the temple. He wanted to kill the person who had inflicted injury upon the idol. But he could find no one. Soon he kept his bow and arrow on the side and started collecting some grass and leaves. And in a little while he had collected a heap. He then returned to the temple and started crushing what he had collected, and started applying it on the eyes of the idol. But even by doing so Kannap was not successful in stopping the bleeding. This made Bheelkumar Kannap extremely uneasy. But just then he remembered what another bheel (tribesman) had once told him—‘In the wound of a person if the same body part of a different person is placed then the wound heals immediately.’ Kannap was happy to remember it. He decided to act immediately. From his quiver he quickly pulled out an arrow and with that he scooped out his own eye. Even, when, it pained to the hilt and placed it on the eye of the idol and pressed it hard. But from his own wound, from where he had pulled out his eye, blood had started oozing out profusely, but he was unaware of the pain. On the contrary he was feeling happy that it had stopped the bleeding from the eye of the idol.
But the agony was not over yet. As just then the other eye of the idol also started bleeding. But Kannap by now had the therapeutic solution for it. He kept the toe of his foot on that eye of the idol, so that after he scoops his second eye and goes blind it will not be difficult for him to find the second bleeding eye in the idol. And with his arrow he scooped out his second eye. But before that suddenly there was divine illumination in the temple. From the idol, Lord Shiva emanated and embraced Kannap; and said,
‘Dear Brahmin! Puja and its complex methods don’t make me happy. What really, makes me happy is the earnest and respectful feelings of a devotee towards me.’ Lord Shiva addressed the Brahmin hiding there. And by now Kannap’s eyes had healed as that became Ashutosh’s (Shiva’s) prasad, and along with him he went to his divine abode. The Brahmin too, because of Bheelkumar Kannap’s simple ways that God liked, got darshan of Lord Shiva.
And that is why it is said, ‘it is so simple to be happy, but so difficult to be simple.’
Story retrieved from mythology
By Kamlesh Tripathi