Nama Article 22nd February 2015
STORIES AS TOLD BY SWAMI RAMDAS
You must have heard of Sage Narada. He was a great votary of God's name. He repeated the Name all the twenty-four hours of the day and went about all over the world proclaiming the greatness of the Name. He became proud of his continuous chanting of the Name. He saw people in the world taking the Name only for a time, whereas he was taking the Name all the day and night. Therefore, he considered himself to be the greatest devotee of God. In the course of his wanderings he went to Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu. Looking at Narada, Vishnu came to know that Narada had become proud of his devotion. Narada, with an air of self-importance, asked Vishnu who His greatest devotee in the world was.
Lord Vishnu asked Narada to go to a certain village on the earth where, He said, lived a farmer whom He considered as His greatest devotee. Narada was surprised, "How could a poor farmer rank first among the devotees of Vishnu?" However, he went to the house of the farmer -devotee and was received by him with great honour and hospitality. The devotee served the sage with all love and reverence and begged him to stay in his humble abode for a few days. Narada stayed on and watched what the farmer was doing.
The farmer's routine was to get up early in the morning, take aloud God's name once, and then go to attend to his work in the fields. In the evening, on returning home after his day's work, he would perform the usual household duties and before retiring to bed, utter once again God's name. Narada noticed this routine of the farmer for two or three days and was utterly disappointed. He was wondering how Lord Vishnu could take this farmer, who uttered the name of God only twice a day, to be His greatest devotee. He left the house and proceeded straight to Vishnu and recounted to Him all that he had seen when he was with the farmer-devotee. Narada then asked Him how He could consider the farmer as the foremost of His devotees.
"I will show you how he is My greatest devotee," said Vishnu and having got a cup filled with oil to the brim, handed it over to Narada and told him to go round Vaikuntha and return to Him without spilling a drop of oil. Accordingly, Narada, taking the cup in his hands, walked slowly and carefully, concentrating all his mind upon the cup and after some time returned to Vishnu without spilling even a drop of oil.
Vishnu, on seeing him back, questioned him, "How many times did you remember Me during the period of your circumambulation of Vaikuntha with the cup of oil in your hands?" Narada was surprised at this question and said, "Lord, are You joking with me? How is it possible to remember anything else when carrying out a task of such a difficult nature? My whole mind was centered on the cup so that I might not spill any drop."
At this reply, Vishnu laughed and remarked, "Look at the case of the farmer. He engages himself in hundreds of activities, carrying heavy responsibilities of his worldly life. Nevertheless, he does not fail to remember Me at least twice a day, whereas in a short period, when you were engaged in carrying the cup of oil you utterly forgot Me."
This reply from Vishnu humbled Narada. He realised that Vishnu was right and that he had made a mistake in thinking that he was superior to all other devotees.
This illustration goes to show that the best way is to offer prayers to God, take His name, even though for a short time daily, and then be engaged in your work and perform it honestly and conscientiously, having God-remembrance stamped on your heart.
Please check these: Excerpts from a discourse by our Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji