At times the Lord desires His devotees to assist Him in His mission to bring about an awareness of the Jivatma's route to salvation that is long and arduous, and instructs them to be born for this purpose.
It is believed that Sage Narada, the greatest of the devotees of Lord Narayana, was born as Saint Purandaradasa to bring about a transformation in the people towards God awareness and righteousness. The life of this saint exemplifies the extremes of the love for money on the one hand and the love for God on the other, said Sri Muralidhara Swamigal in a lecture.
When the Lord decided that Narada should descend to the earth, the sage feared human birth that always coexists with flaws. The Lord assured Narada that He would personally guide him at the opportune moment. Narada was born into a reasonably wealthy Nayaka family. Being worldly wise in money matters, he increased his inherited wealth and strove hard to amass more money. He led a miserly life and would not indulge in any kind of charity.
The Lord's Leela began when He deemed it was time to awaken the devotion in the miser who was blinded with passion for money. The Lord donned the role of an old man in search of a kind soul who would donate generously towards the Upanayanam of his son and approached this miser in his shop.
At the miser's downright refusal to help, the old man approached the wife who was very pious and charitable by nature and coaxed her to part with her nose ring for a good cause.
The old man now went again to the miser's shop for the appraisal of the jewel's value. Its resemblance to the one in his wife's possession made him suspicious; he went home to clarify his doubt with the wife. The agitated wife prayed to the Lord for mercy and was graced with an identical nose ring. This incident made the husband realise God's presence and he became the devout singer, poet, saint and philosopher Purandaradasa, who instilled Bhakti in people. In his songs, he drove home the truth of the vices — desire, hatred, anger, lust, etc. He spoke in simple language to touch the heart of the common man.