Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Friendly thoughts

Today was yet another day. Traffic was as usual on the roads and work - as thick and fast as it could get. As I traveled across the city, an uncommonly happy group of people caught my attention. They seemed to be friends and seemed to be immensely enjoying each other's company.

That got me thinking. About myself; the friends I had and luckily have in my life; through school, college, work and outside; and good and bad times during all of them. I also thought about how "friends" change - at least with me - through the times and how it shows what sort of people we all are.

The earliest persons I regarded as friends were my next door neighbors - a girl and a boy. Just playing all sorts of games from Cricket, ais-pais, jUTATa and kunTe bille. We were just happy to play with each other. No comparisons as to who scored how many marks and what school we attended. Looking back, I think that we were too young and innocent to care. But it feels warm and fuzzy to be thinking about that time now. I was closest to them till I was about seven years old when the boy moved to another place. As I got older, I started playing more cricket with other boys and I became less and less friends with the girl. We used to speak to each other and all that; but then she was no fun to be with as she didn't know how to play cricket. I lost all touch when our family moved too. And now, I don't know where both of them are. Married? Mostly. Children? Probably. What did they study? No idea.

It is quite amazing that people we regarded as closest to us during several years of our lives get out of our lives and become irrelevant. Almost...

School was similar. I had a lot of fun with several friends. We visited each others' houses and generally did many things together. Silly games and competitions - but those were all good from where I see them now. After school, again, I vanished from their lives and they from mine. I did come across one or the other once a while, but that warmth was not there. I might be the culprit, but the fact is that I don't see that glow I once saw in them. I actually know where a couple of them live; but I don't visit them. I assume they can come to my house too; but I have never seen anybody. Initiating a conversation is a great trait (Rama is supposed to have had this trait) that I unfortunately lack.

As I got older, I found that the filter of life filters away people that are not of one's type. You see that the people you get close to share similar interests as you. It dawned upon me that it is not in vain that we have the old adage - "Birds of the same feather flock together".

Another cliche that is completely true in the case of friends is "Out of sight is out of mind". This happened when I moved from India to the US and from the US back to India. The first time, I lost many friends in India. Lost because I never found them the same way again. When returning to India, I "lost" several friends in the US because the relationship is not the same anymore.

There are a few people, who are different. Even though you haven't met them for a long time, they are the same towards you as they were when you met them and I am saying this in a good way. And I too behave similarly when I am with them. But these are only a few. You don't need to speak with them everyday or even once a month - but when you speak to them - you know that it is the same person. But this special relationship is not with everybody.

People change. I am sure several people see me as a changed person; though I consider myself the same as far as I remember (I am sure this is how everybody sees himself/herself).

Friends are special people. It takes a special person to become a friend and as well as to get a friend. It also takes a certain kind of unselfishness to be a friend and to have a friend too. It requires one to not be lazy to diligently keep the path of friendship free of thorns.

I sometimes felt that it became too much effort to call somebody especially if they didn't call you back as often! And because of this laziness, I might have lost several fine people as my friends.

As is my wont, I will conclude this reflection with a samskrit subhAShita (from Bhartrhari's nIti shatakam):

priiNaati yaH sucharitaH pitaraM sa putro
yadbhartureva hitamichchhati tat.h kalatram.h |
tanmitramApadi sukhe cha samakriyam
etattrayaM jagati puNyakRto labhante ||

A rough translation is as follows:
He is indeed a son who is endowed with good character and pleases the father.
She indeed is the wife who wishes the best of her husband only.
That is indeed a friend who is the same in happiness as well as in distress.
These three are obtained by those in this world who are endowed with merit (puNya).

I can't agree more with him.


neelanjana said...

Nice thoughts. Birds of the same feather flock together, eh? I guess that shows up in the blogs we visit too ;)

Yes, I know what you mean. I too have a few friends, whom I don't get to meet more than once is a few years. I wouldn't be knowing what is happening in their lives in gerneral. But when I meet them there is no distance because of that, and I just feel I am 25 years younger!

I will my rambling with a translation of Bhartrhari's shubhAshita. I am sure you know the original shlOka.

ಕೆಡುಕುಗಳ ಕಳೆದು ಒಳಿತ ಕೂಡಿಸುವ
ಗುಟ್ಟುಗಳ ಮುಚ್ಚಿಟ್ಟು ಗುಣಬಯಲಿಗೆಳೆವ
ಆಪತ್ತಿನಲಿ ಕೈ ಹಿಡಿದು ಬೇಕಾದ್ದ ಕೊಡುವ
ಇಂಥವನು ಇದ್ದರವ ನಿಜವಾದ ಗೆಳೆಯ

And even if we have one such friend, it is sufficient for a lifetime.


Aram said...

Very true!

"Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you." ~ R. Bach

Ram said...

M/s. Nilagriva and Neelanjana,
It is very true. I have very few friends but more acquaintances. One can't share freely everything with acquaintances. Of late I am observing people jahave become self-centred. Mr. Neelanjana, your subhashitha is damn good. WISH YOU BOTH HAPPY DASARA

nIlagrIva said...

Thanks for your comments. I am not paying much attention to my blog lately and so I am sorry for the delay in responding.

Yes, folks of the same wavelength flock to the same blogs :)

We are the ones who drew the people and events around us. Richard Bach is a new age icon. We can find lot of what he says in the Yoga vAsiShTha - which is truly mind blowing.

I am in the same boat. Few friends but plenty of acquaintances.

Wish all of you a late Dasara! Hope you had a good time.

Aram said...


Thanks for the insight on Yoga Vashishta. Gangaram's had two books - one by Swami Venkateshananda published by Motilal Banarsidas and another one published by Sura Books, Chennai.

Are there any Kannada books on this?

Probably will buy Swami Venkateshananda's book.

nIlagrIva said...

I have Swami Venkateshananda's book as well as another "The Essence of the Yoga VasiShTha" published by Samata books.

If you're a fan of Samskrit shlokas, then go for the second one. In any case, buy the first one. :)

The Yoga vAsiShTha deals with the teaching Sage vasiShTha gives to a despondent young rAma. I have not read it completely but the parts I've read are great enough.

There is a famed translation of this Kannada book by none other than Devudu Narasimha Shastri - but it is unfortunately out of print. I too would like to lay my hands on that book.

Aram said...


Was at Sapna Bookstall, Gandhinagar.

They have a new book called, Devudu Lekhana Sangraha, with lots of photos, bibliography, etc.

It is mentioned there, that his Yoga Vashishta was first published in 1950s. I was dismayed to see that there were some 21 volumes, each volume containing some 500+ pages.

I met one guy at Select Book Shop on Brigade Road, Mr. R who works in Syndicate Bank next to Ka.Saa.Pa, Chamrajpet. He said he had a big collection of Kannada books worth a few lakhs and said he also had Devudu's this book. He also said every Saturday they have a sale of old Kannada books in Ka.Saa.Pa. premises and that I could meet him there.

Subhashita Manjari said...

Some nice subhashitas can be found at Subhashita Manjari

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