[Advaita-l] Temple Worship by all

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jun 2 12:37:24 CDT 2010

On Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 3:22 AM, S Jayanarayanan <sjayana at yahoo.com> wrote:

> There are specific rules laid down in the Shruti and Smriti that only
> Brahmins should officiate as priests in Yajnas and Homas. But are there
> similar commands laid down in the scriptures (in the Agamas for instance)
> that only Brahmins can perform priestly temple worship?
> I got this question when I was reading about saint Kannappa, who though
> born as a hunter, worshipped in a Shiva temple where a Brahmin was the
> "official" priest. Is this story not evidence that all castes are permitted
> to **physically worship** in the temples? I'm not talking about mental
> devotion alone, but also things like performing Abhishekam, Aradhana etc.

Namaste Karthik,

The story of Thinnan, as reported in the saivam.org site:
http://www.shaivam.org/nakannap.html  says that Thinnan was doing the
worship, in his own way, of offering meat, etc. which was not to the liking
of the official priest.  The latter would clean all this and do the
'permitted' mode of worship and Thinnan, for his turn, would come and clear
up all this and offer his own kind of worship.

// *As he left for hunting, there came the sage by name shivakOchariyAr ,
who worships that Healing Herb on the hill in the way that is said in holy
scriptures.* He was shocked at the sight of strewn bones and flesh in front
of the Lord. He screamed, "it should be the act of those dreadful hunters",
he concluded. He cleaned the altar carefully, took bath in the river and
came back fast. As the unholy materials entered there he consecrated His
abode continued his * pUja * performing the anointing, flower worship, light
worship and chanting of His fame. After prostrating many times that peerless
* param * he returned back to his hermit.

Our adorable hunter till the Sun comes up in the sky kept hunting for deers,
wild pigs and other animals. After that he cooked the hunted flesh in the
fire he created with the wood from the forest. To provide the maximum tasty
food to the Lord he tasted the cooked meat to select the exotic pieces. Like
the ghee that is given to the tongues of flame in the sacrificial rites that
reaches the * dEvA*s, the food he tasted was enjoyed much by the Lord. The
hunter poured honey to the food he selected, to make it more tasty. He took
the materials for worship like the previous day, went with the wealth of
great love, worshipped the Wonder who never incarnates, as he did the
previous day removing the flowers offered in the sage's worship, fed the
Lord with the deer flesh. He forgot sleeping in the night, guarding Him was
his prime concern ! Goes for hunting during the day time to feed Him !! When
he goes for hunting the sage comes for worship, who is wounded by the
presence of unholy things in the altar, removes them, consecrates and
performs the prayer. This continued for many days. Meanwhile n^ANan and
kAdan brought his father and others, but none of their efforts were fruitful
to get back thiNNanAr. When one is in deep love for the luminous feet of the
Lustless God, what force in the world can seperate them ? Isn't it brave to
go for bliss instead of spiky happiness and miseries ?

While our n^AyanAr worshiped the Lord of gods in the way he knew, the sage
shivakOchariyAr was so desperate to find a solution to this probelm. He
prayed to the Lord to show and remove the person who had been doing the
misdeed. To explain the true love of n^AyanAr, the Nameless praised by
thousands of sacrad names appeared in the dream of the sage and told him,
"Don't think that he is a miscreant. His form is full of my love, his mind
minds me only and his deeds are the delightful for me. The water he spits on
me is more sacrad than * ga.nga *, the flowers he offers taking from his
head are holier than that are offered by dEvAs. It is all because of His
love. You can see the excellence of his devotion tomorrow, if you hide and
see". With the feelings of fear mixed wonder the sage was awake for the rest
of the night, as the Sun rose in the east he bathed in ponmukali worshipped
the Lord * kAlahasti Ishwarar *, and hid behind.
On that seventh day morning of his worship of the Lord, as usual thiNNanAr
brought the unusual materials of worship with unprecedented love.//

>From the above excerpted account, I understand that Thinnan was doing this
kind of worship only  for a week before the great event took place.  Also, I
do not see that this kind of, unAgamic, worship was 'permitted' officially.
And this account also does not say that Kannappar (nee Thinnan) continued to
worship there after the Event.  Is there any other account of the story?
Pl. correct me if my observations are not in accordance with the complete
story of Kannappa Nayanar.

On another note, it is in the nature of great saints not to interfere with
the established custom.


> If one claims that "Kannappa was a great saint and hence an exception to
> the general rule", I must point out that it was Thinnan (Kannappa's name
> before Shiva appeared before him) who began worship at the Shiva temple.
> Thinnan was only a hunter who perchance happened upon a Shiva temple and
> then began his Sadhana of worshipping the Shiva Linga on a regular basis.
> Ramana Maharshi was very attracted to the story of Kannappa and has
> narrated it on occasion.
> Regards,
> Kartik
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