Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

You want to become a good person. You want to become pure, you want to become sattwic. It is a good idea, however, the secret of becoming good, pure and sattwic lies not in pursuing a desire but in developing the faculty of contentment in life. That is the secret.

The destiny of human life

There are many people who want to be good yet they are not content, and their mind is going through a lot of conflict and confusion. Expectations, needs and desires are expressed by the mind. All these expressions of the mind take us away from the state of harmony, balance, equilibrium. The harmony of mind, the balance of mind, the equilibrium of mind represents the state of contentment.

Therefore, one should make an attempt not to become pure, sattwic, good, happy and joyous but to become content in life. That is the training that we need in order to fulfil the destiny of human life.

What is the destiny of human life? God-realization? No. Attainment of peace? No. Being happy and joyous? No. They are only expressions. Happiness is only an expression, peace is only an expression of that state of mind which is experiencing contentment all the time. If you are content you are at peace with yourself, you are blissed out. If there is no contentment then every effort, every attempt that you aspire for in life will be futile: there will never be any satisfaction.


Santosha is a quality, and it is a niyama which we try to attain in yoga through observation and adjustment in life. The destiny of human life is to discover this source of contentment. As a result of discovering contentment, we will find peace, happiness and joy. To become established in the state of contentment, we have to go through a process of sadhana, self-training. Training ourselves to be responsible for the actions in life, for the outcome in life and for our behaviour in life.

Then there is the concept of the drashta, the witness in yoga. Many times, when you study yogic literature, you read that you have to become a witness of yourself. You have to observe yourself, you have to become aware of yourself. What is this witness, what is this observation, what is this awareness? You become aware of your needs, expectations and desires. You are able to differentiate and distinguish between the just and the unjust, the appropriate and the inappropriate and, by developing willpower, you can adopt a path which is appropriate, not necessarily giving you pleasure, but that which is appropriate.

When you think of something appropriate then you should not think of the word ‘appropriateness’ in terms of pleasure and displeasure. No – the idea of pleasure and displeasure has to be taken away from the concept of appropriateness. Appropriateness is only an awareness which allows you to discover what is beneficial for you and what is not. With this understanding, if you are on the path of yoga, it becomes possible to experience the symptoms of purity and wholeness in life. That is the direction of yoga.

25 July 2001, Ganga Darshan, Munger