Do you remember as a young boy or a girl, whenever you went out with any of your friends, your mom or dad, would ask you, whom you are going out with? You’d also remember that your parents approved of your friendship with some of your friends and objected on your friendship with some other friends, sometimes you even hated them also for this, as the friend they asked you not to hang out with, was your best friend, well, at least you thought so.
They were concerned because they could see what you as young boy or girl were not able to see, they also knew that at such an impressionable age, your heart and mind is susceptible of getting influenced very easily, and the company you keep would play a very significant role in your emotional and moral being.
You are not immune to the influence of the people around you, even at an older age. A good company can help you achieve great things in life, can help you in becoming person of influence and significance and a bad company can destroy you completely. Sant Tulsidas in Ramcharitmanas mentioning the importance of the company one keeps says – The dust when it comes in contact with wind can reach sky, but if it comes in contact with water flowing on the ground, turns into mud. The parrot and mynah bird sing praises of god when living with good persons or sadhu but utter obscenities and expletives in company of bad people.
गगन चढ़ई रज पवन प्रसंगा, कीचहिं मिलइ नीच जल संगा
साधु असाधु सदन सुक सारी, सुमिरहिं राम देहिं गनि गारी
Further, he says nothing is bad in absolute terms it’s the company which makes it good or bad, he describes how a good company or bad company influences people
ग्रह, भेषज, जल, पवन, पट पाई कुजोग सुजोग
होहिं कुबस्तु सुबस्तु जग लखहिं सुलच्छन लोग
Grah (planets as in horoscope), medicine, water, air and piece of cloth, become good or bad by the company, clever and thoughtful people understand this difference.
There is nothing casual in a company that you keep, your subconscious gets influenced and gradually transforms you.
Who is a good friend? What are his attributes? Friend is not just someone you hang out with, but with whom you can talk on anything under the sun without giving much of thought, someone you trust, someone you are confident that will answer your call always, someone who will always stand by you, support you encourage you, would not take your advantage or manipulate you, but an acquaintance is a person whom you know, socially or professionally and the association starts and ends with just knowing each other. Great king and rishi Bharthari has defined the quality of a good friend in his NeetiShatak –
पापान्निवारयति योजयते हिताय, गुह्यं च गूहति गुणान् प्रकटीकरोति ।
आपद्गतं च न जहाति ददाति काले, सन्मित्रलक्षणमिदं प्रवदन्ति सन्तः ॥
A good friend is someone who stops you from doing evil deeds and motivates you towards doing good deeds, hides and conceals your secrets and publicizes your qualities and excellence, never leaves your company in emergencies or at testing times and stays with you at all times.
Sant Tulsidas also mentioned that patience, dharm, sincerity of your friend and wife is tested at tough times.
धीरज धर्म मित्र अरु नारी, आपदकाल परखिये चारी ।
You cannot have everyone who comes in your contact, as your friend and you also can’t avoid everyone who is not your friend. We have various categories of friends and acquaintances, our association and relationship with them on their classification.
Facebook gives you a facility to label them in the category of close friends, friends and acquaintance; in real life also you categorize people you come in contact with in these categories
Think about your friends whom you think match the attributes defined for a good friend. Now think about yourself, are you a good friend as per given attributes? Friendship is reciprocal.
No association, at least no lasting relationship is possible unless the persons in question have similar tastes and interests, likes and dislikes. It is like the magnetic affinity. A man who is bad instinctively is drawn to those who are similarly bad. It is a popular saying that birds of the same feather flock together. Here also the character of our associate is an index of our own character. If he does not show his dislike nor try to avoid disagreeable company, having found undeserving, he will surely, in course of time, become quite as bad as his friend. It is quite axiomatic that one who is virtuous will avoid the company of those who are given to the ways of vice. He will try to make friends with those that are good and on the right path.
Companionship thus is a very significant factor not only in the formation of character but in the estimation of man’s true worth. A man is often judged by the collective quality and identity of his group. Nobody will believe that a particular robber of the gang is honest. An estimate of the moral character of an individual can easily be made in reference to that of his associates, friends and companions. He cannot be different from his friends. So we conclude that he is what his friends are. Just as one rotten mango spoils the rest in the basket, similarly one wicked man corrupts a lot of friends.
The onus is on us, because we get our relatives but we choose our friends. This choice is very crucial and critical.
Bye for now.
Mr. K.K. Bajpai