A simple cobbler once taught a profound lesson to the sage Narada, who is famous among Hindus as the personal messenger of Vishnu. The cobbler worked hard to support his wife and children and was devoted to the worship of Vishnu, the Lord of Creation. He lived beneath the shelter of a large banyan tree. Its massive central trunk was surrounded by smaller trunks that hung down from the branches to put out fresh roots. The tree was very old and was just like a small forest.
One day, as the cobbler worked in the shade of the tree, the great teacher Narada came to visit him. The cobbler was happy to receive such an honorable guest. After humbly welcoming him to his home, he asked Narada if he had recently spoken with the great Lord Vishnu.
“Yes,” replied Narada, “I have just been with him, and he has sent me to see you.”
“Why did Vishnu want you to see me?” asked the cobbler in amazement.
“He said you would have a question.”
In confusion the cobbler asked the first question that came into his head.
“What was Vishnu doing when you saw him?”
Now Vishnu knew the mind of the cobbler, for he dwells in the hearts of all being and knows them more than they know themselves. He knew this was what the cobbler would ask. Wanting to teach Narada a lesson, He told him how to answer.
“Lord Vishnu was threading an elephant through the eye of a needle,” came Narada’s answer, just as Vishnu had instructed him.
The cobbler thought for a moment. “Well, only Vishnu could do that.”
“Do you really believe me?” Narada smiled at the cobbler’s simplicity. “Don’t you think that would be impossible?”
“For Vishnu, nothing is impossible,” replied the cobbler. “Look at this world: it is full of Vishnu’s miracles. He makes the sun rise each day and the moon shine at night. He makes the winds blow, clouds float in the sky and rivers run to the sea.” He bent to the ground and picked up a seed from beneath the banyan tree.
“Inside this seed is a banyan tree as big as the one it came from. It’s just waiting to come out. If Vishnu can put a whole banyan tree into a tiny seed, he can certainly thread an elephant through the eye of a needle.”
Narada heard the cobbler’s words and realized he was indeed wise, because he could see in everything the presence of God. Although he was a simple man, he knew that just as the banyan tree is contained within the seed, so Vishnu is contained within all of His creation.
-Ranchor Prime, Vedic Ecology