My friend and I were working on homework in Trojan Hall. I asked him if he knew of any Indian folklore. The first legend he gave me was “The Birth of Ganesha”, this was the second:
S: “The next story is about lord Vishnu. Nardar, the most devout hindu around because he is partially a sage and partially divine, goes to Vishnu and says, ‘Arent I your most devout disciple?’
Vishnu responds, ‘Youre one of the greatest.’
Nardar took offense and said, ‘Who could possibly be greater?’
Vishnu transports Nardar and himself to a small farm in India and disguises themselves as refugees. They see the farmer. The farmer receives them with open arms, bathing and feeding them. The farmer then decides to go finish his work for the day, Vishnu and Nardar accompany him.
After the vistit, Nardar ask, ‘What makes the farmer more special than me?’
Vishnu watches the farmer farm, and responds, ‘Watch’
Throughout the entire time, the farmer is singing prayers to Vishnu as he works. They all return to the farmer’s home, where the farmer’s wife cooks chapathi. Vishnu and Nardar eat all the food, leaving the family to starve.
The farmer’s child ask, ‘Why are you letting these people steal our food?’
The farmer responds, ‘Within every guest you have, god exist. So you must treat every person like god.’
His son goes to bed hungry. The following day, Vishnu and Nardar go and attempt to help the farmer with his work. Vishnu says to Nardar, ‘If you want to prove you’re my most devout disciple, carry these jugs of water up the mountain.’
Nardar, being a sage, has a difficult time with the physical task and stumbles to the top. Vishnu awaits for him at the top to congratulate him. Vishnu ask, ‘During that entire time, did you even think of me?’
Nardar responds, ‘No I did not.’
Vishnu points to the farmer, ‘Can you hear him praying to me while he labors.’ and Nardar realizes he is not the greatest disciple.”
My friend described the myth of “Vishnu and Nardar” as his favorite because it helps him stay sociable and amiable. He first heard it from his grandmother, who was trying to teach him the importance of maintaining ties to his Hindu heritage. He expressed how the myth acts as a way for him to maintain his cultural identity, but also acts as a warning against arrogance.
The myth of “Vishnu and Nardar” was probably the most meaningful of the three myths my friend shared with me. Growing up Roman Catholic, the stories I heard warning against arrogance were significantly different and deciphering the hidden message in each story was difficult. Still, the Hindu approach to teaching a lesson seems more personal to me and the message clearer.