I DON'T BELONG TO ANY PLACE
One day in the sacred shrine of lord Viswanath at Kasi, all the devotees and temple priests were immersed in singing hymns and reciting chants. All of a sudden, they heard a metallic sound. When they turned their heads in that direction they saw a shining gold plate on the floor of the shrine. It must have fallen through an open space in the center of the hall from the sky leading to the sanctum sanctorum. All of them gathered round with wonder; while the chief temple priest went close to examine it. He found some letters inscribed on it. "This belongs to my dear devotee". The priest read the inscription loudly. All the temple priests vied with one another to snatch the plate with the feeling, "Who could be a greater devotee than myself. I spend my time, talent and strength only to offer worship to the Lord Viswanath." But the plate changed into an earthen one the moment they touched it one after another. News spread like wild fire about the golden plate. Several scholars, singers, poets and preachers came and tried their luck but in vain. Days, weeks and months rolled on but the plate remained there without a claimant.
One day, a stranger came to the temple. He stood at the entrance and tears gathered in his eyes when he saw beggars, blind, dumb and lame piteously pleading for alms. He felt ashamed of his inability to relieve them of their hunger and agony. He wanted to pray to the Lord and so stepped into the temple. He saw people gathered round and discussing something. He tried to squeeze himself into the crowd to find out why they were standing there. He saw a golden plate in the center of that enclosure. He enquired and was told about the episode of the golden plate. He was rather surprised and sad at the attitude of the people and the priests. Instead of praying to the Lord of the Universe and trying to possess Him, they were eager to possess the golden plate. Observing his non-chalant attitude, the high priest requested him to try his hand. The stranger replied: "Oh Revered one! I do not care for either gold or silver, what I long for is God's Grace." The priest's esteem for that man increased. So he once again pressed him, "At least to satisfy us, please try your hand." The stranger touched the plate without a trace of attachment. Lo! It shone forth with redoubled effulgence. All the priests gathered round and queried: "Sir, where do you come from? What are your qualifications? What are the branches of learning you have mastered? How many years did you do penance?" The stranger replied calmly: "I don't belong to any place. I just manage to earn my bread by hard labor. The only sadhana I do is Naamasmarana [repeating the name of the Lord]. This has perhaps rendered my heart pure and filled it with love and compassion. It has enabled me to control my mind and the senses. I have not read any book or mastered any science. The only art I know of is chanting the Name Divine. The only act I do is to be kind to the poor."
So, the only qualification to become dear to the Lord is to acquire a compassionate heart and sense control. These two can be acquired through Naamasmarana with full faith in the Lord.