"There is a story about a wandering monk who went into the forest and practiced certain exercises until he attained psychic powers. Annoyed by the calling of a crow and a crane in the tree above his seat, he directed such a baleful glance their way that they were instantly burned up. Quite pleased with himself, he went into town to beg for his supper. He entered a courtyard where he called out, 'Mother, give me food.' A voice from inside answered, 'Wait a little, my son.' The monk thought, 'How dare she ask me to wait! She does not know my power!' At once the voice called out again, 'Don't be thinking too much of yourself, boy. Here there is neither crane nor crow.' He was astonished, and when she presently brought his food, he asked humbly, 'Mother, how did you know that?'

"She answered, 'My boy, I do not know your yoga exercises. I am a common, everyday woman. I made you wait because I was caring for my husband, who is ill. All my life I have tried only to do my duty in the situation in which I found myself. That is all the yoga that I practice. But by doing my duty I have become illumined; thus I could read your thoughts and know what you had done in the forest. If you want to know something higher than this, go to the market of the next town, where you will find a butcher [lowest caste] who will tell you something you will be very glad to learn.'

"The monk thought, 'A butcher! Why should I do such a thing?!' But his mind had been opened a little and he went. In the market he found a big, fat butcher, cutting meat with big knives and bargaining with people. The monk was appalled: 'Is this the man from whom I am to learn?!' But the butcher caught sight of him and said, 'Ah, Swami, did that lady send you here? Take a seat until I finish my business.' The monk sat, the butcher continued his work, gathered up his money, and then invited the monk to his home. Having seated his guest, he excused himself and went to attend to his aged parents, bathed and fed them and saw to all their wants. Then he came back to the monk and said, 'Now, you have come to see me. What can I do for you?' The young monk said that he wanted to understand about God and the self. The butcher gave him a lecture, which forms part of the great poem, the Mahabharata, one of the highest flights of Vedanta Philosophy. The monk was astonished. 'Why are you in that body? With that beautiful knowledge, why are you a butcher, doing such ugly dirty work?'

"The butcher relied, 'My son, no duty is ugly, none impure. My birth placed me in these circumstances. In this family I learned this trade. I try to do my duty well, and I am unattached. I do not know your yoga, I am not a monk, I have not left the world for the forest. Nevertheless, all that you have heard has come to me through the unattached doing of the duty that has fallen to me.'"