Kilometers from Mysore, on the outskirts of the now-famous Nanjangud. His name was Malla. Malla did not belong to any traditional or know any formal way of worship or meditation. But Maybe a devotee is not a good enough word for him. There are millions like him. They are prisoners of Shiva. They have no choice. Maybe I also got trapped by him. We did not seek him – too arrogant to seek anything, but trapped by him. Shiva was a hunter. He snared not just animals but human beings too.
Malla knew nothing but Shiva, and he grew wild – he did not learn any particular trade or craft. It did not occur to him that it would be wrong if he stopped someone and took whatever he needed from them. So he just did that, and got branded as a bandit.
He became a regular bandit on the forest pathway which people had to use. The place where he used to collect his toll came to be known as Kallanamoolai, which means “a thief’s corner.” Initially people cursed him, but when the end of the year came, every paisa that he had collected from people was spent on celebrating Mahashivaratri. He threw a huge party. So after a few years people recognized him as a great devotee and started contributing voluntarily. Those who did not contribute voluntarily, he had no qualms about encouraging…
Then, two yogis who happened to be brothers came this way, and saw this man who was a bandit but a great devotee. They told him, “Your devotion is fantastic, but your ways are hurting people.” He said, “I am only doing it for Shiva, what is the problem?” They convinced him, took him aside and put him into other systems, and renamed the place from Kallanamoolai to Mallanamoolai. Even today it is called Mallanamoolai. And the Mahashivaratri event that he celebrated evolved into a big institution in that place.
Within about a year-and-a-half from the time he gave up his banditry and sat with these yogis, he attained Mahasamadhi. After they released him like this, these two yogis also sat down and left their body on the same day. Today there is a very beautiful shrine built for these people, still called Mallanamoolai, on the bank of river Kabini.