Only those with bhakti can understand the depth of another person's bhakti. Manickavachagar, himself, a great devotee of Lord Siva, saw the bhakti of Kannappa Nayanar as superior to his own. It is customary for people to approach God asking Him for favour, or for protection. It is rare for anyone to think of offering the Lord protection.
Why would the One who made the world and sustains it, need protection? It takes love of an extreme kind to think of God as one who needs protection. This was the kind of bhakti Kannappa Nayanar had, said K. Sambandan in a discourse.
Kannappa Nayanar saw Siva as his own child. That is why he thought to protect Him. Kannappar worshipped Siva for only six days, and such was the depth of his bhakti, that all it took was that short span of time, for him to attain mukti. He was born the son of hunter Nagana and his wife Thathai, and was given the name Thinnan, which means the strong one. The name Kannappar came later on, for a certain reason. When his father was no longer able to hunt, Thinnan went out to hunt. He chanced upon the Lord Kudumideva of Sri Kalahasti, and he was filled with love and concern for the Lord. He wanted to provide him with the choicest portions of meat, and was afraid to leave the Lord alone at night, for fear that wild animals might attack Him. So he stood guard all night. During the day he would hunt and bring fresh meat for the Lord. He forgot his family and friends.
One day, Siva, to prove to the world the greatness of Thinnan, caused blood to flow from His right eye. Thinnan, tried to staunch the flow of blood, using herbs, but he could not. So he plucked out his eye and put it on the bleeding eye of the Lord. The bleeding stopped. But the left eye now began to bleed, and when Thinnan was about to pluck out his other eye too, Siva appeared before him, and addressed him as “Kannappa,” and asked him to desist from plucking out his eye.
The Lord asked Kannappa Nayanar to stand to His right and thus honoured the bhakti of the hunter Thinnan, who became Kannappar, because he gave His eye (kan) to the Lord.