The meaning of friendship
Very often you say, ‘He is my friend’ or ‘We are friends’. But have you ever asked yourself, ‘What does friendship really mean? Have you wondered about the feelings you have for this person? More importantly, how do you feel about yourself when you are with this person?
Friendship is not merely one person’s feelings towards another. It is a relationship between two people. Of course, affection is the basis of friendship, but true friendship is like a cloth of many threads. It is woven out of affection, trust and loyalty. It grows stronger with time and is not affected by distance.
Your friends can bring out the best in you, and make you feel good about yourself. They are people you can depend on. They encourage you to do well and make you feel happy with life. And you do the same for them. Unselfish friendship is a great blessing. Good friends share our triumphs, failures, fears and ambitions.
Krishna and Sudama were students at the ashram of the great guru Sandeepani. There they became friends for life. Years went by. Sudama became a priest in a temple in Mathura. Krishna became the ruler of the clan of Yadavas at Dwarka. Sudama’s family was poor while Krishna, being a king, was rich.
One day, Sudama’s wife heard that Krishna was visiting Mathura. She urged her husband to meet his childhood friend. ‘We are struggling to meet our needs,’ she said. ‘Please ask your friend Krishna to help us so that we can give our children a better life.’
Sudama did not really want to ask his friend for money. But he did not want to disappoint his wife. So, he set off for Krishna’s palace, carrying a packet of his friend’s favourite dish of beaten rice tucked into his waistband.
To Sudama’s surprise and delight, Krishna himself came to the door to greet him. With a warm embrace, Krishna received Sudama and led him inside to meet his beautiful wife Rukmani. Krishna noticed the bulge in Sudama’s waistband.
‘Is that for me, Sudama?’, asked Krishna, as he snatched the packet playfully and opened it.
‘O Sudama!’, he exclaimed with pleasure.
‘You still remember how much I love beaten rice. Thank you!’. While Sudama was feasting on the rich dishes prepared by Rukmani, Krishna enjoyed eating the beaten rice that his friend had brought for him.
The friends talked at length about their childhood days. Sudama could not bring himself to ask Krishna for money. The day was ending, and it was time for Sudama to leave. With warm goodbyes, the friends parted.
On his way home, Sudama began to worry about what his wife would say. He had spent the entire day with Krishna, and yet he was returning home empty handed. Surely his wife would be sad, even angry.
Sudama’s mind churned with thoughts as he turned the corner of the street. He stopped and stared! Where his ordinary house once stood, he saw a grand building, surrounded by fields and orchards.
‘Who lives here?’, he asked a passerby.
‘King Sudama and his family’, was the reply.
Sudama never asked for a favour and yet he received a gift beyond his dreams. Krishna had understood Sudama’s need because friendship needs no words.
Sudama was happy to give Krishna what he could, which was only a packet of beaten rice. But he was reluctant to ask him for a favour. Friendship was sacred to him and he did not want to use it for feigning anything. He valued Krishna’s friendship more than anything else in the world.
And what about Krishna? Krishna understood Sudama’s need without being told. He also respected the purity of Sudama’s friendship, which was why he did not give Sudama money and gifts while they were together. Instead, he turned it into a surprise of love.
The friendship of Krishna and Sudama shows us that true happiness lies in making our friends happy. True friends know each other’s minds and can read each other’s hearts. Friendship doubles our joy and divides our grief.
Moral: A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed
‘Who lives here?’, he asked a passerby.