We have great stories about Ram, Sita, Krishna and Radha but the way we learn from them is still not fully understood to me. We revere Ram and Sita and want to emulate them. We take vows of Bhagvad Gita, the song of Krishna. Yet, when it comes to his two biggest relationships, with Radha and Sudama, we either term them as divine affairs or love between a God and a devotee. All we recognize as a society is relationships based on blood and marriage. But what about the relationships based on love and understanding?
Krishna & Sudama
They met at the ashram of Sandipani muni and became best friends. With time, they grew apart due to their responsibilities and very different lives. Although the love remained intact, they didn’t get a chance to meet. Frustrated by poverty, Sudama’s wife asked him to ask Krishna for help for the sake of the family. Sudama visited Krishna’s palace with nothing but a handful of beaten rice as a present. The moment Krishna heard of his friend’s arrival, he ran to the gate without slippers, like a child. Sudama too was so overwhelmed to meet his friend that he forgot to share his sorrows with him. But Krishna being God himself understood everything. He blessed his friend with all the riches in the world.
Family vs Friends
Fascinated? Try doing something similar for your friend and wait till your parents start rolling their eyes. I was brought up in a nuclear family. We meet our extended family once a year. So, I never really had a chance to know my kin closely. On the other hand, my friends have been my pillars of support for years. But that’s not how it should be according to my parents. Attending marriage of cousins who I never even had a conversation with, is more important than attending the wedding of my best friend who has been seeking my advice even on what to wear every day. Forget family, ask your boss to grant leave for your friend’s wedding/housewarming/baby shower etc. and receive a feedback on your lack of sense of responsibility. Friendship is that underrated in our country.
Friendship Yesterday vs Friendship Today
I don’t blame the elder generation. During their time, a relationship was dictated by distance and the limited resources they had. Once they grew up and left their hometown for better opportunities, they could only save as much to meet their own family. There was never any extra money or even extra time to buy postcards, compress your feelings to byte size sentences and find a post box. Trunk calls those days were expensive too. So, all they could do was to believe that friendship ends with childhood and having friends is a luxury or a leisure. Cut to twenty-thirty years later, we have every possible medium to stay connected. Distance just does not matter today. But, instead of improving the quality of friendship, we have employed these means to earn number of friends and followers; proving our parents’ point right. Now, we don’t feel the pain of distance from true friendship, we simply fill it with more friends.
What is Friendship anyway?
I wish I could answer this question. I think the definition changes for everyone. For me, it’s not about the people but a position in my life with multiple vacancies. Yes, I can have many friends but not unlimited. Friends are the fillers and floaters in my life. Like cushion fillers, they fill my life with care, selflessness and love. Like floaters in factories, they take many forms whenever required- mother, sister, brother, mentor or teacher. They are with me sometimes; they go away from me and come back again. Each one of them is special to me in their own way.
Revisiting Krishna & Sudama
You might think it’s a very old story. I think it’s still so relevant. We make friends throughout our lives- School, college, office, clubs and housing societies. But you meet your best friends in your most trying times. I met mine when I left home for college in a big city. I learned cooking, managing my own finances and maintaining my own room along with my best friends. And, even if those days were difficult, I would prefer them over catching up with friends in fancy cafes. Wasn’t it the same for Krishna and Sudama? Away from home, in the challenging environment of the Gurukul, two young boys meet and create an unbreakable bond of friendship.
This Mother’s Day, I was frantically shouting over the phone over the late delivery of “Mother’s Day” cake. But this Sunday, when friends wished me “Happy Friendship Day”, I was like “Grow up; Friendship Days are for school kids, not for grown-up people like us”. And though I understand the commerce behind these special days, this was the latest and freshest instance of hypocrisy served by me. And it is continued by the fact that even after writing these torturous long sentences, I don’t have the courage to get in touch with my long lost friends even though I often think of them. Sometimes I realise, it’s more about being an introvert who prefers to meet people than talking on the phone. But while I wait for a miracle to bump into my old friends, you can take a cue from the Krishna-Sudama story that friendship never gets old and call up your friends even though Friendship day is over.