(8) Bhagavan Tells of Kannappar the Saint
Bhagavan began to read the life of Kannappar, the great devotee-saint. He went on reading incidents in his early life, and how he went to the forest and found Kudumi Dever, the Sivalinga, his Lord, up the Kalahasti Hill in the Chittoor district (of Andhra State). Then he told how Kannappar worshipped the Sivalinga with water carried in his mouth, flowers taken from his own hair, and the well-cooked and tasted beef prepared from his own meal – knowing no better and having no better to offer his beloved Lord. The way in which the ordained priest, Siva Gochariar, resented the intruding defiler of the sacred Sivalinga was so characteristically brought out by Bhagavan, who with his own explanations of the rites and the meaning of the mantras used in the worship, that it enriched the recital greatly to the benefit and admiration of the devotees.
Then came the scene of scenes, when the Lord in that Sivalinga tested Kannappar and incidentally revealed to Siva Gochariar the intensity of the forest hunter’s worship from a place of hiding. He saw the unexpected trickling of blood from one of the eyes on that Sivalinga; he saw Kannappar running to and fro for herbs, and treating the Lord’s eye with them. Then he saw how, finding them all useless, Kannappar plucked out one of his eyes and applied it to that in the Sivalinga; then, seeing the treatment was effective, he ran into ecstasies of joyful dance.
When Bhagavan came to the story of how Kannappar was plucking out his second eye to heal the second of the Lord, and of how the Sivalinga extended a hand to stop him, saying “Stop, Kannappar! ” Bhagavan’s voice choked, His body perspired profusely, His hairs stood on end, tears gushed out from his eyes; He could hardly utter a word, and there was silence, pin-drop silence in the Hall. All there were dumbfounded that this great Jnani could be so much overpowered by emotion and ecstasy at the great hunter-saint’s devotion. After a while Sri Bhagavan quietly closed the book, dried his tears in His eyes with the ends of His towel, and laid aside the book, saying, “No, I can’t go on any further.”
Then we could realise the import of His words in the Aksharamanamalai: “Having become silent, if one remains like a stone, can that be called real silence?” His blossomed Heart had in it the perfect warmth of devotion, no less than the supreme light of Knowledge.