Thoughts on friendship

“I’ll get by with a little help from my friends”

Pensive, withdrawn, lonely. The life of the world can be teeming around us, the high decibel sounds can be dinning in our ears and still we can be lonely. It is possible to be lonely in a crowd. Loneliness haunts the places where crowds gather. It is not the presence or absence of people that makes the difference because a person need not be lonely even if he/she is alone. Sometimes it is good to be alone. But that does not make us lonely. It is not a matter of being present with someone. It is a matter of being present to someone. This calls for special communication, special human interaction, special acceptance and understanding. If these are lacking, all we have is lonely people, each encased within his/her own impenetrable shell. No one wants to be lonely. People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.

To dissolve loneliness we need friends. A friend gives warmth, understanding, time, love oneself. A friend stands up to my anger, my selfishness, my short-comings. A faithful friend is a sure shelter. Whoever finds one has found a treasure. In his inimitable way, I suppose Snoopy would cut through the core and say, “Happiness is a friend who lets you be yourself and still loves you.” We need friends because we are social beings, not by choice, but by nature.

“I spent one morning with a friend and wished the day would never end…”


Sensual desires

“… sensual desire is never quenched by indulgence any more than fire is by pouring ghee in it. No object of desire – corn, gold, cattle or women – nothing can ever satisfy the desire of man. (…) We can reach peace only by a mental poise beyond likes and dislikes.”

Yayati explains this to his son Puru after indulging several years in a sensual life.

(Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari – p.38)

Keeping good company

“… it is not proper to live with persons who have no sense of decency or decorum. The wise will not keep company with those who speak ill of their family.”

Devayani speaks about the behaviour of Sarmishta the daughter of king Vrishaparva who by her rude actions had disrespected her father Sukracharya.

(Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari – p.34)

Of anger

“He conquers the world, who patiently puts up with the abuse of his neighbours. He who controls his anger, as a horseman breaks an unruly horse, is indeed a charioteer and not he who merely holds the reins, but lets the horse go whither it would. He who sheds his anger just as a snake its slough, is a real hero. He who is not moved despite the greatest torments inflicted by others, will realize his aim. He who never gets angry is superior to the ritualist who faithfully performs for a hundred years the sacrifices ordained by scripture. Servants, friends, brothers, wife, children, virtue and truth abandon the man who gives way to anger. The wise will not take to heart the words of boys and girls.”

Sukracharya imparts wisdom to his daughter Devayani who is angry after being treated badly by her companion Sarmishta.

(Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari – p.34)

Of happiness and misery

Caressing her, he said: “It is by their own actions, good or bad, that men are happy or miserable. The virtues or vices of others will not affect us in the least.”

Sukracharya tries to console his daughter Devayani after she is insulted and hurt by her companion – Sarmishta – the king’s daughter.

(Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari – p.33)