A few days ago, my good friend Pranav, who is an avid trekker, shared this story with me. He hasled many groups into forests and hilly areas in many parts of India. On one such trek in a village in Maharashtra, they were attempting to begin their trek, when an old grandmother stopped them in their tracks and inquired about their plans. When she heard that they were about to spend most of their time on the mountaintop, she said that they wouldn’t find any proper facility for food or water. So she immediately decided to feed the entire group of fifteen some hot food before they began their walk.

Although there was a murmur of protest, she did not pay any heed and proceeded to ask a few other ladies to help her. Within a short time, grandma was serving piping hot rice and vegetables to this group. Everybody was amazed at their service attitude and when they offered to compensate her, grandma wouldn’t listen at all. She flatly refused to accept even a token payment.

Gradually the group made its way up the forest path and reached the top. There they were approached by a local shepherd who asked one member of the group whether they have any sliced bread. He explained that it was for his son who was rather fond of it. Since there were no shops around, he had surmised that these city folks should be sure to have some with them.

As Pranav watched, the shepherd was simply brushed aside by the group, saying that they did not have any (although some were carrying bread). The differences in the way this group was treated by the ladies below, and now how the recipients of this favor were treating a poor shepherd, shocked Pranav. He wondered whether to term this a simple study of two kinds of nature (as some popular psychologists are apt to call them), or for that matter, the village folks are not as spoilt and selfish as us city dwellers. More was yet to unfold.

When the group finished their trek and was passing through the same village, our grandma treated them (once again) to a simple but hot fare, and satisfied them fully. This time Pranav asked our grandma as to why she treated them the way she did. She did not claim to have any deep philosophical reasoning to explain her attitude but said that she regularly attended discourses on Vedic literatures like the Srimad-Bhagavatam and that’s where she learned her stuff. Pranav praised her for her lofty ideals and then grandma delivered her punchline.

“I cannot claim to have any original lofty thoughts to begin with, but I do regularly hear lofty thoughts.”

So that’s the secret. The great king Pariksit heard the science of bhakti-yoga from his spiritual master, Sukadeva Gosvami. As both the hearer and the narrator were serious, the effect was marvelous the complete cleansing of the heart. Another example is that of a fertile wife and a potent husband, when they stay together and decide to have progeny, there is no difficulty in the fulfillment of their desire.

Of course, from one point of view, grandma had just done her worldly duty as a householder and that in itself is not considered strictly spiritual, but what is appreciated is her source of inspiration faithfully hearing the narration of the timeless scriptures.

In today’s times there is no dearth of legislation, but there is an acute shortage of leaders willing to hear the message of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The socio-cultural environment today does not beget any noble or lofty ideals, but only authentic scriptures like the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam contain, and can deliver noble and lofty idealism that supersedes and defeats all forms of mediocre thoughts and attitudes.