A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Friendship Day

Last Sunday was Friendship Day and all day long I kept receiving messages on the essence of Friendship form many of my friends. The stores all around my place were selling friendship-bands, strings, rings – what have you? All this made me wonder, just what is a friend?

Aristotle has said that a friend is a single soul in two bodies. Where do we find such soul-mates these days? Were there earlier? All of us have grown up on the legends of Krishna-Sudama, so I will not repeat it. But what about other famous friends? We have read about the friendship of Duryodhan and Karna in Mahabharat. Karna, despite the knowledge of the Pandava’s being his younger brothers, does not desert his friend Duryodhan when he needed his help the most. A friend in need they say is a friend indeed. But could this not be seen as Karna’s indebtedness to Druyodhan’s favour done to him when the world was questioning his royalty?

What about another famous pair from Mahabharata – Krishna and Arjun? Weren’t they friends too? Krishna in Mahabharata portrays all the qualities that we ought to look for in a friend. According to George Herbert, “the best mirror is an old friend” and Krishna was an apt mirror to Arjun. Krishna was the one who showed Arjun who he was and what he ought to do, especially during his time of dilemma, a time when many of us look for friends. The Gita delivered by Krishna was profound knowledge to know oneself, and that is why even today, studying Gita is considered to be swadhyaya – ‘study of thy self’.

Finally a small Greek legend that epitomizes the concept of friendship. Damon and Pythias were two good friends and both were the followers of the famous philosopher Pythagoras. At one point of time, Pythias was accused of plotting against Dionysius I. Pythias was sentenced to death as a punishment for plotting against Dionysius. Pythias requested to visit his home before he was put to death, but Dionysius did not accept this request as he was sure Pythias would never return. Pythias suggested that he hold Damon in his place till he returned. The friendship was well known, so Dionysius accepted the request, but went on to suggest that if Pythias did not return within the stipulated time, then Damon would be executed in his place. Both agreed. To cut the story short, till the due date, Pythias did not return and as promised Damon was readied to be executed. As the executioner was about to execute Damon, Pythias turned up just at the nick of time. He then went on to explain that on his way back home, his ship had been attacked by the pirates and how he was thrown overboard and how he had to swim back to reach just on time to save his friend. Dionysius who heard it all was moved by the friendship and released both and even employed then as counsels in his court.

This legend has inspired many a modern version of remakes and adaptations which have been viewed over and over again as an example of friendship, just as we have modern adaptations of Krishna-Sudama. Today, friendships do not have such altruistic flavours, but, so what; there is no harm in reliving the old legends and myths with such glorious examples.

Here’s wishing all my readers a Happy Friendship Day, albeit belated!

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