This morning I received my copy of the September issue of SAMVIT. What follows is an extract from Mataji Pravrajika Bharatiprana's article 'For Dedicated Devotees', which I wish to share with you.
Sri Ramakrishna used to tell a story about Narada who had grown very arrogant. He thought of himself as a great devotee. One day, he asked God who was His greatest devotee? He thought God would say his name. But God said that there was a farmer who was his greatest devotee. Since Narada had travelled the whole world, he knew that this farmer worked on his field all day, laboured hard, and remembered God only once while leaving for work and once while going to sleep at night. So how could he be the greatest devotee? Understanding Narada's attitude God put him to test by handing him a bowl full of oil saying, 'Narada, today go round with this bowl of oil, but be sure not a drop of it spills.' Narada left with the bowl, his mind firmly placed on the oil. He was extremely careful that it did not spill at all, and consequently did not remember to take the name of the Lord even once. As a result, when he returned to God he was asked by him, 'Narada, how many times did you remember me today?' Narada answered, 'As you had given me this bowl of oil, I could not think of you even once. My whole mind was on it.' Then the Lord said, 'See, I have placed such a heavy burden on the farmer, and yet, he remembers me twice a day. How great a devotee he is!'