This is a story about the Gods. It deals with the greed of men. It was a fine day in Heaven; Sriman Narayana and His Consort Lakshmi were talking away the hours, when Narada, the Wandering Minstrel, entered and attracted their attention. Narayana asked Narada whether the denizens of the Earth were happy. Narada replied that since they worshipped Him and won His Grace, men everywhere were quite happy and prosperous.
At this, Lakshmi (who was the Goddess of Wealth) was afflicted with jealousy and anger, for, Her share in conferring happiness on man was not acknowledged. She challenged Narada to prove that Narayana was more adored than Herself down on Earth.
Narayana accepted the challenge. Donning ochre robes, He transformed Himself into a Monk and went down amongst the villages and towns, preaching the Path. Thousands flocked at these meetings and listened to the enchanting oratory. They followed Him from place to place and adored Him with effusive enthusiasm. He was being carried along on a huge wave of devotion and adulation.
Lakshmi saw this and could not contain herself; She was overwhelmed by envy. So, she too donned the Sanyasi robe and came down to the very region which Narayana had conquered for Himself. The people were drawn towards her by the effulgence of Her Presence; many came away from the meetings addressed by Narayana to bask in Her Presence.
A few invited Her to their homes for dinner. She agreed but, declared that it was a vow she had undertaken, not to eat out of plates other than her own. She said, she would bring Her own plate, cup, drinking vessel etc. The host was only too glad to comply with Her request, for, that helped him to overcome one bother among many!
Lakshmi took with Her when She went to the houses of Her hosts, a plate of gold, a cup and a water vessel, all three of gold! The host admired and adored Her the more for this display of pomp and wealth. But, he was astounded and delighted, when, after dinner, Lakshmi said that she was leaving the plate etc., at the hosts's home, since that too was part of her vow!
When the news spread that it was highly profitable to invite Lakshmi to Dinner and to adore Her, there was a huge clamour for Her Grace and millions deserted Narayana's Discourses and hovered around the Giver of Gold. People prayed to Narayana to go back to whence He came, for, they had no time to receive Him or listen to Him. Lakshmi was monopolising their attention!
So, Lakshmi came back to Heaven, to meet Narayana who was already there. She asked Narada, "Who is being worshipped more, Narayana or Lakshmi?"
Narada replied with another question "Whom are You worshipping, please?" Lakshmi answered, "Why? Worship Narayana" Then, said, “Narada, know that it is Narayana's Grace that is helping you to bestow those gifts of gold, which make men worship you.”
Lakshmi's pride was humbled; but, man's foolishness continues. He worships Lakshmi, not Narayana!
(From Bhagawan's Divine Discourse as it appeared in the September 1975 issue of Sanathana Sarathi)