It is said that taking the name of God before starting anything new is an auspicious beginning. So, I have predictably decided on my first post in Mythology and More to be on a story of God.
All day long Narad muni had one name on his lips. “Narayan, Narayan.” With a tranquil tilt of his head, hand raised towards the heavens and a cheerful smile, he would start all sentences, end all meetings and fill all spaces in between speeches with the chant of “Narayan, Narayan.”
Narad muni would bring interesting tales from around the world to his wise god Narayan, or Vishnu as he is popularly called, who would wait for these visits.
Narad muni took great pride in holding this special place in his God’s heart. One day, he approached Vishnu and asked, “Who is your best devotee, my lord? Narayan.. Narayan.”
It was like the queen in Snow White asking, “Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” A rhetorical question is some sense. The answer was the queen herself.
And Narad muni was quite sure that Vishnu would take Narad’s name.
Vishnu answered gravely, “There is a farmer in the village who is my sarvottam bhakt (unparallelled devotee).”
Narad Muni was perplexed, but how could he second guess what his Lord held true. He left Vaikunth, Vishnu’s abode, and went to find this farmer who had taken the coveted spot of being Vishnu’s best follower.
He watched from behind a tree as the farmer rose at sunrise. The farmer stood outside his small hut and raised his hands in prayer. With his eyes scrunched tight, he repeated Vishnu’s name twice.
Narad muni was all set to keep count.
Then the farmer went inside after a quick bath. He had the breakfast his wife had prepared. Then he headed towards the fields. Narad muni took the form of a farm animal and followed close.
In the field, the farmer worked relentlessly. Once the sun rose high, his wife came with lunch. The farmer went back to work after eating. Only when the sun had set & darkness had descended, he returned home. The family ate dinner together. The farmer talked to his wife and boys. Everything was wrapped up and the lamp turned off in the preparation of sleep.
Growing visibly baffled, Narad muni peeped through the crack in the wooden window. The farmer closed his eyes, took Vishnu’s name, stretched on his mat and fell asleep.
Narad muni was not sure if Vishnu was joking with him. How could this man be a more cherished devotee than Narad muni himself? Better than all the devotees out there? That made no sense.
Brimming with indignation, he went to his Lord for an answer. “Narayan, Narayan.. I followed the farmer all day. I don’t understand why would you consider him so precious. How.. how can he be the best devotee? He took your name… he remembered you just twice in his entire day.”
Vishnu smiled. “I will explain all. Do not fret. But before that, I have a very important task that I need done. I trust you. Can you take this small vessel filled with oil across the worlds? It is vital that not even one drop spills. Will you do this for me?”
Narad agreed with alacrity. Vishnu had trust in him. “Narayan, Narayan.. it will be my honour.” He would complete the task and Vishnu would be so pleased that he would name Narad muni unparalleled among all the devotees.
So, Narad muni went around heaven and earth without blinking, his hand held steady, intent on the task at hand. He made sure not one drop of oil was spilt.
He returned triumphant.
Vishnu welcomed him with open arms. He took the vessel and made Narad muni sit close. “I see not one drop is missing. Well done, my trusted bhakt! Tell me, while on your journey how many times did you take my name?”
Narad muni frowned. “Not once my lord. I was deep in concentration, doing my best to complete the task given by you. Giving it my all.. Narayan, Narayan.”
The wise god nodded. “Now I will tell you why the farmer stands out. Like you did today, the farmer puts in all effort to do the best he can in all the roles of his life, that are the tasks I have assigned to him. In the midst of it all, he finds two moments to remember and thank me. I am overwhelmed by his love for me.”
Narad muni had got his answer. And so had I, to a question that I had not even asked.
Religion is personal and no one can dictate how we pray or whom or what we choose to believe in. I made my choice very young when I first read this story. Hope you enjoyed it.
Pic Credit Lazywiz