Once, seeing Narad Muni, the great devotee of the Lord, being intently absorbed in his bhajan, the king of heaven, Indra, became fearful that Narad Muni would want to take over his kingdom. He therefore sent a beautiful apsara, heavenly damsel, to attract the great sage and break his composure. Under the instructions of Indra, the apsara went to the pristine place where the transcendental sage was concentrating on the Supreme Lord and started dancing and singing in a very alluring manner so as to captivate the sage’s mind. However, despite her numerous attempts she was unable to catch his attention and thus returned defeated. Seeing this Narad Muni smiled and proclaimed that he had conquered cupid, the god of love, for he was not at all agitated by the beautiful apsara. Pride started to develop in him for he thought that he had merely smiled at the attempts of cupid unlike Lord Shiva himself, who had gotten upset and angry when Kamadev had broken his trance.
Thinking thus, he went to Brahmalok to tell his father Lord Brahma about his victory over Ananga. Hearing him, Lord Brahma congratulated him and warned him not to tell this to anyone else. Despite the warning of his father, Narad Muni went to Lord Shiva, who is his brother and also his Guru, and told him about the incident as well. Hearing him Lord Shiva praised him but also warned him not to say it to anyone else. Yet again, disregarding the warning, he went to his worshipable Lord Vishnu and boastfully told him as well. Hearing him, the Lord glorified Narad Muni, which greatly pleased the sage and he then took his leave from the Lord and started going away. Seeing his dear devotee becoming proud, the Lord decided to show him his favour by removing his illusion and also decided to teach the other jivas about the great dangers of being proud through the example of his very own dear devotee.
By the will of the Lord, Maya devi created a great wonderful palace, in the gorgeous gardens of which, full of colourful and fragrant flowers, an exquisitely beautiful young princess played with her friends. She had just entered her youth and was just like a blossoming lotus flower, delicate, sweet and enchanting. Seeing the princess, Narad Muni was completely captivated by her beauty and grace, and therefore he approached the palace. Seeing the great sage come, the father of the girl, the King, welcomed him, washed his lotus feet, offered him a comfortable seat and served him very nicely. He then requested the great sage to see the palm of his daughter and foretell the great qualities of her future husband, for her Swayamwar, or marriage ceremony in which she would chose her husband, was to be held soon. Looking at her perfect and delicate hand, the captivated sage predicted that she would marry someone who would live forever, would be full of all opulence, a great personality, indeed she would marry the Supreme Lord Narayan himself. Hearing this greatly pleased the King and he paid his humble obeisances at the lotus feet of Narad Muni. Being completely taken by her beauty, he took the King aside and expressed his desire to marry the King’s daughter. The King told him that he should come in the Swayamvar and if the princess would chose him, he could marry her. Being pleased and considering that she shall surely chose him, he went to a secluded place and mediated upon the Lord, requesting him to appear. The Lord came there upon the call of his devotee and enquired from him about what it was that he wanted. Narad Muni then requested the Lord that he would like to have the form of Hari, the Lord himself. The Lord assured him that he would get the face of Hari and departed. Narad Muni then jubilantly went to the Marriage festival and stood right in front, being confident that seeing him the princess would immediately put the Garland of Marriage on him. However, the princess would turn away as soon as she would see him. Not understanding what had happened, the sage again went to the place where the princess was looking amongst the assembled guests for a suitable groom. However, she again looked aside as soon as she saw him. This happened a few times and sage could not understand what was happening. Just then Lord Narayan himself appeared there, seated on his carrier Garuda, and seeing him the princess accepted him as her husband. The Lord then seated her besides him on Garuda and went to his abode with the princess. Narad Muni, feeling greatly disturbed, went and saw his reflection, wondering what had happened. When he saw that instead of giving him his own beauty, the Lord gave him the face of a Hari, which also means a monkey, due to which he appeared very ugly and could understand why the princess had not chosen him. Being furious as what the Lord had done, he immediately went to Vaikuntha and seeing the Lord, cursed him that he too shall feel great distress due to being separated from his beloved just as Narad Muni was feeling greatly aggrieved. Just after that, the Lord removed his illusory covering from over Narad Muni, making him realise what had actually happened. Realising that he had fallen in the trap of the Lord’s Maya and that it was just by the Lord’s mercy that he was saved, and regretting the curse that he had given the Lord, he immediately fell at the Lotus feet of the Lord and weeping, begged for forgiveness. The Lord mercifully forgave him and assured him that he would never again fall in the trap of Maya. From that day forth he was always very careful not to get proud.
One should therefore learn from this story that a devotee ought to always be humble and never get proud of any achievements. It is only by the mercy of the Lord that one is able to do anything at all and therefore, keeping the verse Trinadapi sunichena around ones neck, one should always remain humble and tolerant, giving respect to one and all and not expecting any result. Being in such a humble state of mind, the devotee can then engage the mind in an uninterrupted flow of service unto the lotus feet of the Lord.