Chinna Katha


One day, in the midst of conversation, Lakshmi, the Divine Consort and the Goddess of Wealth, addressed Narayana, "Lord! The entire world is adoring Me; not even one in a hundred, why, not even one in a million, is worshipping you." She teased the Lord by this statement. She put forward a plan to test the sincerity of man. She said, "Lord! It is best to discover for ourselves how true the facts are. Come, we shall both go forth into the world and find out."

Narayana agreed. He changed into a great Pandit, wearing golden bracelets on his wrists as evidence of the appreciation and admiration of famous academic bodies. He had a garland of Rudraksha beads round the neck and thick streaks of vibuthi on the forehead. He manifested himself on earth as a redoubtable scholar. He moved from village to village and began enchanting the people through his enrapturing discourses. His splendorous personality and deep scholarship attracted the people; thousands gathered to hear him and followed him from place to place. Brahmins invited him to their settlements and honoured him. His arrival was celebrated as a festival, with rich feasting.

While Narayana was being feted thus, Lakshmi too appeared on earth as a great Yogini (Female Ascetic). She too proceeded from village to village enlightening the people on the Atma through her discourses. Women assembled to hear her fascinating speeches in wave after wave, in massive numbers. They prayed that she should honour their homes with a visit and partake of the feast they were most eager to offer. In reply, she informed them that she was bound by some vows, which made it difficult for her to accept their request. She would not eat out of plates already in use in the homes. She said that she should be allowed to bring her own cups and plates with her. The women were yearning so deeply for hosting her that they accepted the condition. Whatever her vow, they were ready to respect it. Invitations came from every woman from every place.

The Yogini reached the house where she was to take food the first day and took out from the bag she had with her a gold plate, a few gold cups and a gold 'tumbler' (lota) to hold drinking water. These she spread before herself for the various items of the menu. When the meal was over, she left the place, leaving the precious golden articles to be taken by the host. She had a new set for each day, she said.

The news spread. The villages where Narayana was holding his delightful discourses also heard the wonderful happenings of the Yogini's gifts. The Brahmins who were staunch admirers of the far-famed scholar also rushed to invite the Yogini to their homes for lunch! The Yogini told them that they ought to drive the Pandit out before she could enter their settlement. She would not set foot there so long as the person continued to stay there! She was adamant on that point. Their greed for gold was so strong that they forced the Pandit, whom they had adored so long and with so much pomp, to go out of their village.

Thereafter, the Yogini entered the Brahmin settlement, gave discourses, partook of feasts arranged in her honour and presented the golden plates and cups to each of her hosts. Thus, the Yogini managed to get the Pandit driven out of every place where he sought recognition and attention. Instead, she secured the worship of people everywhere. Unable to bear the universal insult, the Pandit cast off the role and Narayana disappeared from the earth. The Yogini came to know of this. She too gave up the cast she had assumed and, resuming her real Form, She joined Lord Narayana. While talking among themselves, she told the Lord, "Now, tell me! What did you discover? Who between us is honoured and worshipped more on earth?" Narayana smiled at her question. He replied, "Yes, What you said is true."