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Total devotion

Narad was a devoted sage of Lord Vishnu. One day, he asked Vishnu if there was anyone who was more devoted than him.

Vishnu said, “To find out, come down to earth with me.”

Vishnu and Narad took on the guise of peasants and, as evening fell, they reached the hut of a small farmer. When the farmer saw them, he welcomed them in the name of Lord Vishnu and offered to put them up for the night.

When the farmer’s wife saw the guests, she took her husband aside and whispered, “What shall I do? I have just enough to feed us and the children.”

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The farmer replied, “Feeding a guest is like feeding the lord, so give them our share.”

When the guests finished eating, Vishnu asked for more. Again, the farmer invoked the lord’s name and gave them his children’s food.

The farmer’s wife made some gruel for the children. But Vishnu and Narad drank that too.

The farmer told his children, “By serving these guests, we have had an opportunity to serve the lord. Don’t complain.”

The next morning, as the farmer set out to his fields, Narad asked the farmer about his life. Though his answers revealed that the man faced many difficulties, he ended with “The lord will take care of us.”

Narad asked, “How often do you remember the lord?”

The farmer answered, “As soon as I get up in the morning; at night, before I go to bed and at mealtimes. During my day, whenever I get a minute, I remember him.”

When they walked away, Narad said, “I don’t know why you think he’s your greatest devotee. I spend all day singing your praises and also go without food some days.”

Vishnu conjured up a pot of oil and told Narad, “Place this on your head and walk around that mountain without spilling a drop.”

Narad put it on his head and began to walk. By the time he reached Vishnu again, he was a nervous wreck.

“How many times did you remember me during the walk?” asked Vishnu.

“Remember you? All I could think of was that wretched pot, whether it would drop or if the oil would spill or I would slip or trip,” exclaimed Narad.

“Yet that poor farmer manages to invoke my name a few times every day amid all his difficulties. Don’t you think he’s my greatest devotee?” asked Vishnu.

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Printable version | Jan 10, 2021 6:01:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/Total-devotion/article14414600.ece

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