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
! 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.
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
Why? Because, they have the sweet memory
nectarine‟, along with the painful experience of „Bad
Company is like the sting of a
, 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.
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
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,
leave us! If one by one, people desert their group, their devilish group will diminish! Therefore, by many and various means, by