This story is in praise of one hunter who never learnt any holy scriptures and whose discipline was just to kill-hunt, who became an excellent example of devotion.
Thinnanar was a very skilled hunter, who in his sixteenth year succeeded his father Nagan as the king of the Vyashas(hunters) in Uduppur in South India.
One day Thinnanar led his men into the forest to hunt, the hunters made a lot of killings but suddenly a wild pig broke away from their nets and leaped away into the dense forest. Only three people were able to chase the wild pig to the end, they were Thinnanar, Nanan and Kadan. The chase had taken them a long way away from their men, they were hungry and tired. Thinnanar asked Kadan to cook the pig while he himself along with Nanan set out to bring water.
As they cut across the dense forest they came to the foot of the kalahasti hill. Nanan told Thinnanar about the temple of Kudumithevar on top of the hill and that they can go and pray there. Even as Thinnanar took his first step towards the Lord he felt a huge wave of love and boundless joy surge inside him.
As his eyes fell on the Shiva lingam he was transformed into an embodiment of devotion .Tinnanar was merged in deep feeling of divine ecstasy.He wept, and shed tears of extreme joy.
Nanan told Tinnanar that he had seen a priest bathe the Lord and ornate him with flowers. Thinnanar understood the worship that the God of Kalahasti likes, But his foremost concern was that the Lord was alone and unprotected in the forest surrounded by wild animals. Next it stuck him that the Lord must be hungry and left to get meat for the Lord. He went to the foot of the hill where Kadan had cooked the wild pig, he tasted the meat of the cooked pig and took only those pieces he deemed tasty and worthy of the Lord on a leaf, he took some water from the river in his mouth and some beautiful wild flowers in his hair . He went up the hill, poured the water on the Lingam, ornated the Lingam with wild flowers and offered the meat to the Lord.He stood guard the whole night with bow and arrow in his hand and left only in the morning to get food .
The priest Shivakochariyar , as was his habit for years came to perform his daily prayers and to offer salutations to the Lingam. But today the bones and flesh strewn in front of the Lingam distressed him. He cleaned the altar carefully all the while blaming the hunters for the mischief. He brought fresh water from the river to bathe the Lingam and performed puja and prayers. He prostrated in front of the Lord and left to his hermit.
Our adorable hunter came back with his offerings to the Lord , he forgot sleep at night guarding the Lord was his prime concern.This continued for days. Meanwhile Nanan and Kadan brought his father and others to persuade Thinnanar to return home, but none of their efforts were fruitful in getting back Thinnanar.
By this time the sage Shivakochariyar was desperate ,he worshiped to the Lord to remove the person who was responsible for this misdeed. The Lord appeared in his dreams and said that the deeds of the person was a delight to him, the water he spit on him more sacred than the Ganges and the flowers he brought in his hair more holier than the offerings of God. He also asked Shivakochariyar to hide and see the true devotion of Thinnanar.
Shivakochariyar hid behind a tree and saw Thinnanar returning with his offerings.Thinnanar came near the Shiva Lingam and saw with horror that his worst fears had come true ,he saw blood flowing from one eye of the Lingam, Thinnanar in his helplessness screamed out loud, he ran all around the forest to find the miscreant responsible for this, he brought herbs from the jungle to heal the wound. Finally desperate to stop the healing he took his arrow pierced his eye and plucked it out and placed it on the wound on the Shiva Lingam, the bleeding stopped at once, Thinnanar was ecstatic , he danced around in celebration not feeling his own pain. In another moment he saw blood flowing from the other eye of the Lord, this time around Thinnanar knew what's to be done,since he won't be able to see the wound with both his eyes gone he stuck his toe on the wound to mark its position and then took his arrow to his other eye and was about to pluck it , when the Lord himself, unable to bear such an act of devotion appeared shouting "Oh! halt Kannappa!!, halt Kannappa!!(kann=eye).Shivakochariyar saw the great love of this devotee and the grace he got for it. It was only mere love and intense devotion to the Lord that bestowed Kannappar the greatest boon from the Lord that is, self-realisation.
Great scholars including Thirunyana Sambandar,, Sundharar, Manikkavachakar,Nakkirar and a list which is too long to put ,have praised this great hunter as an unparalleled example of devotion.