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’.
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!