It is a much known fact that as an ardent devotee of Bhagwan Vishnu, Rishi Narad takes the name of Bhagwan Vishnu all the time. His chant “Narayan Narayan” always rings in the ears of the devotees keeping our mind at the lotus feet of the Almighty. This chanting and his involvement on devotion itself made him the most loved and dearest devotee of Bhagwan Vishnu. However, there was one such incident where Rishi Narad got diverted from the devotion of Bhagwan Vishnu and it was up to the Almighty himself to put the Rishi back into the path of true devotion.
As a traveller of the worlds, Rishi Narad received great respect and honour for his devotion of Bhagwan Vishnu This made him proud about his devotion. He began to believe that none chants the name of Bhagwan Vishnu as much as he does. When he expresses the same pride before Bhagwan Vishnu, Bhagwan Vishnu decides to teach Narad a lesson about devotion. Surprising Rishi Narad, Bhagwan Vishnu mentions about a farmer who is the greatest devotee of his and asks Rishi Narad to accompany him and see the greatness of his devotee.
They both go to the simple farmer disguised as travellers and ask him shelter for the night. The farmer gladly agrees and says that serving guests is serving Bhagwan Vishnu and makes arrangements for their stay and offers them food. After eating what was served, Bhagwan Vishnu asks for more. Although nothing more was left to serve, the farmer and his family give their dinner to Bhagwan Vishnu and Rishi Narad happily. Then Rishi Narad asks the farmer as to when does he get time to pray in his busy day at the field. The farmer humbly replies that whenever he gets time. Listening to this, Rishi Narad feels even more pride of the fact that it was only he who chanted Bhagwan Vishnu’s name continuously, and the farmer can never beat him is his devotion. The next day morning, the duo company takes leave of the farmer.
While walking back, they reach a hill. Rishi Narad with his pride mocks Bhagwan Vishnu that what greatness did he find in the farmer who did not even have time to chant Bhagwan Vishnu’s name name continuously. Without answering him, Bhagwan Vishnu instead gives him a pot of oil and asks Rishi Narad to carry it on his head and circle the hill three times without dropping a single drop of oil.
Rishi Narad says that that is no big deal and starts walking with the pot on his head.
Rishi Narad walks with total concentration on the pot, lest it spills or tumbles. After completing the three rounds, Bhagwan Vishnu, asks Rishi Narad how many times he could chant Narayan while circling the hill. That’s when Rishi Narad realises that he did not chant even for a single time. Then Bhagwan Vishnu mentions that when a small pot of oil as a burden, could take off Narad’s mind from the thoughts of god, then what about the farmer who carries the burdens of life. Yet it was the greatness of the farmer that in spite of being poor, he served people as much as he could and took time to chant Bhagwan Vishnu’s name with pure faith whenever he could and that makes him the greatest devotee. With this realisation, Rishi Narad feels guilty of his pride and asks for forgiveness of the Almighty and accepts that the number does not count in devotion, but faith does.