Bhilla: God Shiva’s Greatest Devotee
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According to legend, there was a sage named Veda who used to pray to God Shiva every single day. His daily routine started with prayers to God Shiva which lasted till the afternoon after which he headed to neighboring villages and beg for alms. .
Simultaneously, there was a hunter named Bhilla who used to hunt in the forest. Every day, after he finishes his hunt, he visits the Shiva Ling and offer God Shiva whatever he had hunted on that day. During the process, he pushes aside the offerings of Sage Veda. Strange though it might seem, Shiva was stirred by Bhilla’s offerings and eagerly waited for Bhilla’s offering everyday.
Bhilla and Veda have never met each other, but Veda everyday found his offerings scattered on the ground and replaced by a piece of meat. Veda figured out that his offerings were set aside while he was away begging for alms in the village. In order to find out who was responsible, Veda decided to hide behind the bushes and wait for the person instead of going into the village.
While waiting, Veda saw the hunter arrive along with his offerings. To Veda’s surprise, he witnessed God Shiva appear in front of Bhilla and tell the him how eagerly he waited for him and question the reason for his delay. After Bhilla made his offerings and went away, Veda confronted God Shiva questioning his partiality towards the hunter who was offering meat. In the fit of anger, Veda threatened to break the Shiva Ling. God Shiva non-hesitatingly suggested him to go ahead and break the Ling but requested him to wait till the next day to do so.
The very next day, Veda visted the Shiva Ling with his offerings. When he came across the Ling, he witnessed traces of blood splattered on the Shiva Ling. Veda carefully washed away the blood and continued his prayers.
Similarly, when Bhilla came to offer his prayers and offerings, he too saw the traces of blood on top of the Shiva Ling. Thinking he was somehow responsible for this unholy site, he took an arrow and started piercing himself as a punishment.
God Shiva appeared in front of both of them and told Veda to observe the difference between Bhilla and him. He stated that Veda has only given him his offerings, but whereas Bhilla has offered his whole soul and that is the real difference between ritual and true devotion.
The place where Bhilla prayed to God Shiva is today recognized as the famous Bhillatirtha.
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