A short yoga story on Contentment or Santosa. ‘Ramesh and the Parrot Feathers’

This story is told by an elderly Indian gentleman, about his childhood, many many years ago:


Contentment (Santosa)

When I was a child of about eight my father said to me, ”Ramesh, why do you have such a long face?’

He was always aware of my feelings, always observing and commenting on these things.

“Ramesh, why on this beautiful day, with the birds singing and the river running do you look sad? What could you have to feel sad about? The world is a beautiful place. Be happy.”

“I cannot be happy today, Father,” said I.

“And why is that, my son?”

“Because my brother has more friends than I have. I only have the two boys next door, and he has at least four friends.”

“But why should that trouble you, Ramesh? Do you not like your two friends? Are you not completely happy with them when you lose yourselves in the forest, when you climb the trees and wear parrots feathers in your hair?”

“Yes I am happy, but maybe I would be even happier with four good friends.”

“Happiness is happiness, my son. You cannot measure it. You cannot count it. You must learn to know it when you have it and be content with it, and if you are not lucky enough to be happy one day, then still be content to wait until it comes to you again, for surely it will. God is great. God is watching and providing for all of his children, but it makes Him unhappy to see you with a long face. So go and find your friends, my son. You do not want to make God, your father, unhappy do you?”


Some questions to ask yourself:

How do you feel when you always compare yourself to people who have more friends or more possessions than you have?

How do you feel when you appreciate what you do have and compare yourself to those who are less fortunate?

Think of the most contented person you know. What can you learn about happiness from him or her?

4 thoughts on “A short yoga story on Contentment or Santosa. ‘Ramesh and the Parrot Feathers’

  1. Dan McLaughlin says:

    Hi Teresa – thank you so much for the wonderful stories on your site.

    Our faith community is working on a program for our children where we use stories to highlight the virtues evident in Jesus life. We would like to use the above story (with some adaptations because our target age is quite a bit younger – age 2 to 8 or so). The link to our adaptation is here: http://jesusvirtues.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/ramesh-and-the-parrot-feathers/ I included a link back to your site.

    Could you review that and let me know if it is o.k. with you? If you do not want us to use this story, please let me know and I will remove the story before it is used in our monthly ritual.

    Thank you again for your great site and wonderful stories.

    Dan McLaughlin


    • Shubhra S Khurana says:

      I am life skills content developer based out of Delhi, India. I design and deliver content to Grade 1-10. I read your comment and quite liked the point on using stories to highlight the virtues in Jesus life.


      • yogastories says:

        Thank you for your positive feedback. Indeed stories or parables were much used in the Bible, and of course in the Hindu texts too. Have you found the yogastories.co.uk website? It consists of 43 stories which illustrate many of the values of Indian culture. Best wishes, Teresa



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