(9 Nov '00)
Sage Narada thought that he was a great devotee.
“Once Lord Krishna said, ‘Narada, there is one farmer on earth who is a greater devotee than you.’ Narada doubted this and came down to earth to see the peasant in person. He found that the farmer would chant the Lord’s Name only three times a day. ‘How could he be a greater devotee than I?’ thought Narada. Upon returning, he mentioned his doubt to the Lord.
“The Lord gave him a small vessel filled to the brim with oil and asked Narada to keep it on his head and go round a particular hill without spilling even a drop of it.
“When Narada returned after finishing the round, the Lord asked, ‘How many times did you chant My Name in between?’
“Narada thought and was surprised to discover that he had not remembered the Lord’s Name even once because his attention had been fully concentrated on keeping the vessel of oil steady so as not to spill it.
“The Lord smilingly said, ‘Now do you understand what a great devotee that farmer is? Even in the midst of his toilsome work, thrice he is remembering Me, is he not?’
“Children, one who simultaneously does karma (action) and remembers God is the noblest. “