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Sadhu Sangha

Sadhu Sangha

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Published by Swami Vedatitananda
A small pamphlet eulogising the importance of keeping Good Company for a meaningful and peaceful life. An essential read for all youths.
A small pamphlet eulogising the importance of keeping Good Company for a meaningful and peaceful life. An essential read for all youths.

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Published by: Swami Vedatitananda on Jun 19, 2013
Copyright:Public Domain

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08/18/2013

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Good Company
Page
1
of 
 
Good Company
With regard to dealing with people, we keep on hearing the cry of people that it is utter small-mindedness to make distinctions based on caste, class, religion, etc. There is also the public opinion of learned ones that all sort of distinction made between people is but a cause for fight and dissension. Let it be so. But we believe that apart from all sorts of classifications that are extant in society and are causesfor the fights and quarrels and dissensions, there will always remain two more classifications among
 people that cannot be ignored. Or, call them two groups, if you don‟t like the word
classes. What wespeak of is
 – 
the groups of 
Good people
and
 Bad people
! Should we desist from discrimination evenwhen dealing with these two groups of people? Naturally this question pops up in our minds. People whocry themselves hoarse regarding any sort of discrimination, I wonder what they have to say in answer tothis question.
Won‟t
they say that in this particular case alone, we may discriminate? Yes. There is noother way than to agree to this discrimination. Not only that, I am sure, since they are learned people, they
will even say, „making this discrimination is the
only 
 
way‟!
Why? Because, they have the sweet memory
of „Good
Company is
nectarine‟, along with the painful experience of „Bad
Company is like the sting of a
scorpion‟!
Therefore
, universal brotherhood or seeing everyone as one‟s own
Self is to be entertainedonly with respect to good people. With regard to the evil-minded ones, we ought to take great care and
caution to be as far away from them as possible. This is not only essential but also inevitable. “Even avirtuous monk is corrupted in the company of the unholy” says an old Indian proverb. When such is the
universal experience with regard to even holy men, what to speak of the effect of the wicked ones onordinary people!
Doesn‟t this make us realize that bad company
will take us to dogs, while good companyis the only way for our inner growth?But we generally face a small dilemma here. And that is
 – 
who is good & who is bad? Who willcertify them as such? How do we identify them in our society? Dress and demeanour may fail to help usmake this distinction. The food habits, talking style, appearances, etc of the wicked ones may well be thesame as those of the good people. In all probabilities, the evil fellows may appear very refined and suavetoo. How then are we to identify the good folks from among the motley crew in our society and interactwith them? Again, how are we to identify the rogues and stay away from them, protecting ourselves fromharm? When people appear more trust-worthy than the really trust-worthy ones
 – 
how are we to directlykeep ourselves away from them? In many cases, the good people appear slightly rough and unpolished.
Won‟t
we lose the good fortune of keeping their company due our own grossness of mind? Therefore, wehave to first of all learn the
 subtle art of identifying 
these two classes of people. Else, our life
won‟t
besmooth and easy at all. It is essential for self-preservation to escape from the company of evil-minded people. Similarly, it is beneficial for our own development to seek out and keep the company of the goodones. This is the primary means for a meaningful life.In this context, the famous Saint of the Dasa Sect, Sri Purandaradas
sings in a beautiful song, “
 It is my responsibility to seek out and keep the company of good people, O Colourful Lord, but then you toomust chip in your half of the responsibility and keep me away from the company of the wicked.
” Just see
how subtly the Saint puts it! Purandaradas
says that it is the Lord‟s prerogative to keep him away from
evil company! This is really thought-provoking. Even if we know that we have to eschew the company of the wicked ones, it is not easy at all. In fact, even if we leave them,
they 
 
won‟t
leave us! If one by one, people desert their group, their devilish group will diminish! Therefore, by many and various means, by
 
Good Company
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2
of 
 
cunning and subterfuge, they ensure that we remain entrapped in their evil confines. Seen against thisgreat fact, how wonderful is the prayer of Purandaradas
 – 
 
O Lord, it is your responsibility to protect me from the company of the bad people
‟.
  Now, this should not drive us to think that prayer is the one and only means for escaping fromfalling into bad company. The good Lord has endowed all of us with sufficient intellect. Let us use it well,identify the bad people by their nature and qualities, and stay away from them. We can alwayssupplement our prayers with this act of prudence. In this context, proverbs and wise sayings come to our help in identifying the nature of people.For instance:
 Manasyekam vachasyekam karmanyekam mahaatmanaam; Manasyekam vachasyekam karmanyekam duratmanaam.
The 
Great One’ 
s mind, word and deed are 
one. The Devil’s mind itself is one, word is something else, and deed is 
entirely different from both! 
This is a famous
Subhashitha
. [A
Subhashitha
is a Sanskrit proverb, which used to have validityeven in legal jurisprudence in the olden days. They are short, metrical verses, which compress a lot of common sense in an aesthetic manner, thus having literary value besides the enormous educative valuewhich they were intended for.]In this
Subhashitha
, we find the qualities of both the classes of men delineated so well. [In theoriginal Sanskrit verse, there is a wonderful pun, which is difficult to translate; but we have remained trueto the sense of the verse.] Is there any hope of our welfare if we interact with a person whose actions arenot congruent with his words and thoughts? In all probabilities, even a person who is like this cannot livehappily with another of his own kind, because, each will cheat the other!The qualities of wicked ones are expressed quite graphically in another 
Subhashitha
like this:
 Mukham Padmadalaakaaram vaani chandanasheetalaa; Hridayam kartareetulyam trividham dhoortalakshanam.
Face is beautiful like a lotus; words are soothing like sandal paste. Heart is vicious and sharp like a steel knife! Thus, threefold are the distinguishing features of a rogue! 
This is indeed a very dangerous personality! Long before we have had the incisive experience of 
the rogue‟s
vicious heart, we would have been enamoured by his sweet countenance, and would have been bewitched by his smooth talk! Indeed, rogues cut us up with sufficient anaesthesia, as it were! Whenwe fall into the snares of such sociopaths, is there any way out other than to pray to the Lord for deliverance?
 
Good Company
Page
3
of 
 
If you ask if it is not possible to change the very nature of such rogues by means of prayer to theLord, another 
Subhashitha
puts it very nicely thus:
 Durjanasya tvapucchasya vyaalasya ushtragalasya cha; Na mantrairnoushadhairvaapi rujutaa jaatu jaayate.
Is it possible by means of mantra 
or medicines or charms to straighten a dog’s tail or a snake’s body or a camel’s 
neck? Never. Similarly with a rogue
In Bhartrihari‟s
 Nitishataka
[which is a famous Sanskrit compendium of a hundred verses oncommon sense], we see yet another interesting feature. In that, apart from carefully delineating thedistinguishing natures of the good people, of the common people and rogues, Bhartrihari identifies an un-nameable 4
th
group of people. They are the very dregs of mankind, the scourge of humanity. His wordsare very subtle and thought-provoking:
 Etey satpurushaaha paraarthaghatakaaha svaartham parityajya yeSaamanyaasthu paraarthamudyamabhruthaha svaarthaavirodhena ye;Te ami maanusharaakshasaaha parahitam svaathaaya nighnanti yeYe nighnanti nirarthakam parahitam te ken a jaaneemahe.
Those who forego their own self-interest and work hard for furthering the interest of others, such indeed the 
‘salt of the 
arth’. The common 
run of people works 
 for others’ benefit 
so long as it 
doesn’t 
hurt their own interests.There are also those devils in human form who sacrifice others for their own benefit. But we have no words to name those utter wretched ones who, without any benefit for themselves, absolutely without any motive whatsoever 
, destroy others’ 
happiness! 
 Now, if you ask if a person will be the „salt of the earth‟ owing to his birth in such a family, or 
due to his genealogy, another beautiful
Subhashitha
 
says „No‟:
 
 Kim kulam vrittaheenasya karishyati duraatmanaha; Krimayaha kim na jaayante kusumeshu sugandhishu.
Indeed, of what avail is it if a characterless wretch is born in a good family and comes of good stock? Don’t we 
see worms and insects taking birth inside sweet smelling flowers? 
Well, so much for meditation on rogues and wretches! Now, let us hear the words of theenlightened ones that make us aware of the characteristics of the good people. Hearing such words hasmany benefits. Firstly, it helps us to identify the bad fellows and differentiate them from the good ones.Secondly, merely by dwelling on the qualities of the good people, a great peace, calmness and joydescends on our minds. Thirdly, using these hints, if we can identify the good people and keep their company, we can interact with their cultured minds and refined hearts. We can participate in their uplifting vibrations, thoughts, feelings and imaginations. This is in itself an invaluable, unparalleledexperience. Indeed, such delineations speak volumes of the large-heartedness of the authors too. Weinvite you to experience this for yourself, as for instance, in this
Subhashitha
:

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Surender Singh Chouhan added this note
Good Company - gone through the complete essay and found it very useful, refreshing.
Surender Singh Chouhan added this note
Thanks
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