This is a story related to the second Niyama, Santosha, or contentment.
The yogic text instructs us to maintain the peacefulness and contentment of our minds, no matter what goes on outside.
This traditional Yogic story is called Very Nice, Very Nice.
Once upon a time, there was a kingdom. The kingdom was ruled by a very good King. Very kind, compassionate, brave, understanding, a good man. This kingdom was prosperous as well. This kingdom had a Prime Minister who was very loyal to the kingdom and to the King. He was also a very good friend of the King. The King really liked him as a friend, and he trusted him as a part of his group of ministers. Everything was great between them. The only thing the King had an objection to was the habit the Prime Minister has. The habit was whatever used to happen, the first reaction of the Prime Minister was always responding with, "Very nice, very nice."
Even if something bad has happened, the Prime Minister would respond by saying, "Very nice, very nice."
The King tried to convince the Prime Minister a few times. "My friend, not everything is very nice. Some things are good, some things are not good. You can't call everything very nice." The Prime Minister argued against it, he said, "By responding with very nice, very nice, makes the state of mind positive and that positive state of mind is very helpful because no matter what happens, its neither positive nor negative, it how you look at them." The King was not convinced and still disagree with the Prime Minister.
One day the King was sick, he called the Prime Minister into his palace, "My dear Prime Minister, I am sick." The Prime Minister responded, "Very nice, very nice, my dear King." The King was angry, he said, "I'm really sick and I'm suffering, what is very nice about it?" The Prime Minister said, "My dear King, your body is learning how to fight this sickness, so in the future, it will be stronger. That means this sickness is very nice, very nice."
The Prime Minister's argument was very interesting, although the King did not like it. But anyway the disagreement remained.
Time passed, one day a secret agent of the kingdom came to the King and told the King that in the kingdom, in the deep forest, there are some tribal communities that are still following some inhumane rituals where they sacrifice human beings in the name of gods and goddesses. The King was very hurt and sad when he heard such an aggressive idea still persist in his kingdom. He wanted to change that. So he called the Prime Minister the next day and he told him about that, "The secret agent told me this and I am very sad about it." The Prime Minister responded, "Very nice, very nice that you're sad about that, my dear King." The King asked him, "What is very nice about it?" The Prime Minister said, "Because you're sad and hurt, now you are going to do something serious about it and it is going to change. So that's why it's very nice that you got sad." The King did not disagree w this statement, but anyway, the king said, "I have a plan. We are going to explore the deep forest. Just you and I. We are not going to bring an army of guards. We both will change our royal clothing and wear normal clothing instead. We will find these tribes and we will see what is actually going on so that we can stop it ourselves." The Prime Minister responds, "Very nice, very nice, let's do that!"
According to the information the King received from his secret agent, this kind of ritual always happened during the new moon. So they planned their forest exploration on the new moon night but they started from the kingdom early in the morning. They have changed their clothes, now both of them look like normal people. The King and the Prime Minister rode their horses. They carried food with them too. The food was carried by the King. He led the path, the Prime Minister was right behind him. Everything was very nice. Their journey started well, but as they started to enter the forest, it got very very dark. In the dark forest, the King lost the path, and the Prime Minister was following behind him, so naturally, he also lost the path. The King didn't know where he went, so he stopped and said, "Hey, I think we are lost," the Prime Minister smiled and said, "Oh, very nice, very nice. The King got angry, he said, "I don't like this! We have a serious problem here. Why do you keep saying very nice, very nice, don't say that!"
The Prime Minister stayed quiet. The King was very angry, and he continued the journey. Somewhere along the way, he lost control of the horse, the horse banged into a rock, the king fell down, the horse injured his leg, and the food fell down. It was all on the ground. The King's clothes got dirty, he got scratches all over his body. The Prime Minister came from behind, and the King said, "Oh my dear friend, I'm injured, the horse is injured, the food is all gone." The Prime Minister said, "Very nice, very nice, no problem." Now the King got really angry, he said, "This is not a good time to say these words. I don't like it. I'm going to punish you. From now on, you'll walk and I'll ride your horse. Do you still feel very nice, very nice about it?" This time the Prime Minister did say very nice, very nice, but he did it silently so that the King couldn't hear it. And then the Prime Minister talked to himself, "I've been sitting on the horse for a long time so my hips are very tight right now, I guess it's good for me to walk." The King left his horse behind, took the horse of the Prime Minister, and left the Prime Minister behind.
After some distance, there was a deep pit that the King didn't see. The King and the horse fell into the deep pit. This time the horse was absolutely fine. But the King broke his little toes into 2 pieces. He lost one of his little toes.
The Prime Minister saw what happened and said, "Oh my dear King, what happened to you?" The King looked up and said, "Ooh, I fell down and I broke my toe." The Prime Minister said, "Very nice, very nice, no problem." Now the King was soooo angry, he said, "Take me out, and I'm going to punish you now!" The Prime Minister had to obey the order of the King. He took a rope, and pull the King out.
As soon as the King came out, he kicked the Prime Minister into the pit, and asked him, "Do you still feel very nice very nice now?"
The Prime Minister did say yes, very nice, very nice, but silently so that the King didn't hear him, and he thought to himself, "It is much cooler down in the pit than up there anyway, I can rest here now."
The King left the Prime Minister behind, he said, "Okay, stay there. You feel very nice, very nice anyway, then just stay there! I'm going," the King left.
Poor King, no food since the morning, fell down into the pit, broke his little toes, had no guards, no clue where he went, no support, no direction. It was evening time, and it was getting dark in the forest. The tribal people saw the King, and they caught him. They said, "We are going to take you to our colony and we are going to sacrifice you to our gods and goddesses." This is the same ritual the King actually wanted to stop and instead, he became a victim. He told them, "Hey, I'm your King, let me go!" But they all laughed at him because his clothes were dirty, he looked like a crazy man, roaming in the forest all alone, no one would listen to him. They took and tied him to a tree, and prepared for their ritual to begin. The King was really sad and scared. He cried, and begged, " Don't do that!" But no one was listening to him. Finally, the ritual starts. The high priest of the tribe came and he asked his people, "Where is this person you want to sacrifice?" They pointed at the King who was tied in the tree. The priest walked toward the King and started to check the King out from the top to the toes. He then noticed that the King didn't have 1 toe. He called his people and said, "Hey, where did you get this man? He only has 9 toes. You know the sacrifices need a complete animal. We don't want to make the god and the goddess angry. Release this man!"When the King heard this, he was so happy, and naturally, he said, very nice, very nice, for the broken toe. They released him, and he rushed back to the pit where he left the Prime Minister. He was desperate to tell the story of his arrest and his release to the Prime Minister. When the Prime Minister saw the King, he was also very happy. The King said, "Hey my friend, I'm back!" The Prime Minister said, "Oh my dear King, I'm so happy to see you!" The King pulled the Prime Minister out and narrated the whole story and said, "My friend, I used to get angry with you when you used to say very nice, very nice, but for the first time, even my broken toe was very nice, very nice. I'm really happy that this incident is very nice, very nice." The Prime Minister smiled and he said, "My dear King, I'm very happy to hear all of that but I think not just this incident but all that happened are always very nice, very nice." The King said, "Hang on, I accepted one incident, how home you said everything is very nice, very nice? Prove it to me how is it very nice, very nice, that I kicked you into the pit?"
The Prime Minister smiled and said, "My dear King, if you hadn't kick me into the pit, I would be with you. You had 9 toes, but I have 10 toes. They would have sacrificed me, so you kicked me into the pit, you saved my life, that was very nice, very nice."
Now if you look at this story, it is about the state of mind - a content state of mind with whatever the situation is.
A contentment state of mind takes away our stress. A peaceful mind is without stress. Even if the situation is very negative for you, even if there are problems in front of you. When your mind is peaceful, if you're not stressed, you can make the best choice there is. You can make the right decision.
This entire story was told by one of my teachers in his lecture about Santosha or contentment. Thank you Gandharji for sharing all of your wisdom 🙏. Hari Om.