As we all know sage Narada is an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu . He keeps chanting "Narayana! Narayana! " all through the day. wherever he is and during all times the name Narayana will be on his tongue.
He believed that he is the greatest devotee of Lord Vishnu and there is no one else who keeps thinking Narayana as he does.He wanted to get that confirmed from none other than Lord Vishnu himself.
So he started his journey towards Vaikund, the abode of Lord Vishnu with the words Narayana on his tongue.On reaching Vaikund He bowed before lord Vishnu and received his blessings.
Then when Lord Vishnu asked the purpose of his visit, Narada replied that he needed some clarification.
Vishnu asked " About what Narada? "
Narada replied ," I need to know as to who is your ardent devotee?"
Needless to say, Narada was expecting his name from Lord Vishnu.
Now, Vishnu asked Narada to go to a hamlet and meet Thirumalai, the farmer residing in that village.
Also He told " I consider Thirumalai as my ardent devotee."
Narada was surprised at this and was eager to see this devotee .And he reached the Hamlet mentioned by Vishnu and went and knocked at the farmer's hut.It was almost night, when Narada reached the farmer's hut.
Out came the farmer and welcomed sage Narada . The farmer offered Narada food to eat and asked him to sleep on the best bed which he could offer.
Narda was keenly observing the farmer as to how many times the farmer is mentioning Narayana..
The farmer before going to sleep , uttered 'Narayana!,Narayana" and went to sleep.
Next day the farmer got up early in the morning , brushed his teeth, took bath , then he looked at the photo of Vishnu and uttered. "Narayana" . Then he started his daily work. Narada was watching him the whole day to take note of the number of times the farmer utters Narayana.
The whole day during his work time, he never bothered to pray or utter Narayana. Again later in the night before going to sleep he again prayed.
Taking note of all this Narada returned to Vaikund and asked Vishnu," The farmer prayed only twice in a day and still he is considered as an ardent devotee by you. Idon't understand this ."
For this Vishnu gave Narada a cup filled with oil to the brim and asked Narada to go around Vaikund ,without spilling even a drop of oil.Narada readily took the cup of oil and with great care he walked around the abode of Vishnu. He focussed only on the cup of oil.Without uttering a word he finished the given job and gave back the cup of oil to the Lord.
Now Vishnu asked Narada ," How many times did you utter my name when you were focussing on the cup of oil?"
Narad said, "How is it that you expect me to uttter your name, when I have to focus on the cup of oil?"
For this Vishnu answered ," When you have to focus on the simple cup of oil, you never prayed.
But the farmer with all his worries, duties and the hardwork , he never forgot to pray and utter my name twice a day. Is there any devotee greater than him? "
Sage Narada was dumbfounded.He realised that Duty is God . He also understood that devotees, amidst all work are also sincere in their devotion to God.