FRIENDSHIP — "YOU ARE THE COMPANY YOU KEEP"

ਕਬੀਰ ਮਨੁ ਪੰਖੀ ਭਇਓ ਉਡਿ ਉਡਿ ਦਹ ਦਿਸ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਜੋ ਜੈਸੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਮਿਲੈ ਸੋ ਤੈਸੋ ਫਲੁ ਖਾਇ ॥੮੬॥:
Kabeer manu pankhee bhaio oudi oudi dah dis jaai. Jo jaisee sangat milai
so taiso phal khaayi ||86||: Kabeer, the mind has become a bird
(i,e. mind's wanderings, Trishnaa etc.); it soars and flies in the ten directions (desires chasing sense objects).
According to the company it keeps, so are the fruits it eats ||86|| (sggs 1369).
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Through the relationship we change. The Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) reveals to us that friendship with the fool — the false, corrupt, Manmukh (self-willed, a person in worldly consciousness etc.), wicked, pompous (proud or arrogant), unrighteous, untruthful, greedy, unfaithful and so on — is founded on false foundation, therefore, lasts "for only a few short days" and "never works out right". The implication is that if we have friends with good qualities or virtues, our nature will change accordingly. However, on the other hand, if we make friends with someone who has bad qualities, he (or she) will be a bad influence on us for such "friendship leads to corruption". Accordingly, the Great Souls tell us that one can tell who you are by the company you keep! Thus goes the popular proverbial expression "you are the company you keep".

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਸੇਤੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਥੋੜੜਿਆ ਦਿਨ ਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਇਸੁ ਪਰੀਤੀ ਤੁਟਦੀ ਵਿਲਮੁ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਇਤੁ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਚਲਨਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥ ਜਿਨਾ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਚੇ ਕਾ ਭਉ ਨਾਹੀ ਨਾਮਿ ਨ ਕਰਹਿ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਿਨ ਸਿਉ ਕਿਆ ਕੀਚੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਜਿ ਆਪਿ ਭੁਲਾਏ ਕਰਤਾਰਿ ॥੧॥: Manmukh setee dosatee thorrarriaa din chaar. Is pareetee tuttadee vilam na hovee it dosatee chalan vikaar. Jinaa andar sache kaa bhaou naahee naam na karahi piaar. Nanak tin siou kiaa keechai dosatee ji aap bhulaaeaye karataar ||1||: Friendship with the Manmukhs lasts for only a few short days. This friendship is broken in an instant; this friendship leads to corruption. They (Manmukhs) do not fear (respect) the True Lord in their hearts, and they do not love the Naam, the Lord's Name; O Nanak, why become friends with these whom (as fruit of their own Karma) God Himself has forgotten (i.e. based on their own Karma they have separated themselves from God)? ||1|| (sggs 587).
  • ਨਾਲਿ ਕਿਰਾੜਾ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਕੂੜੈ ਕੂੜੀ ਪਾਇ ॥: Naal kiraarraa dosatee koorrai koorree paai: False is friendship with the false and greedy. False is its foundation (sggs 1412).
  • ਨਾਲਿ ਇਆਣੇ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਰਾਸਿ ॥: Naal iaanae dosatee kade na aavai raas: Friendship with a fool (ignorant, blockhead, etc.) never works out right (sggs 474).
  • ਨਾਲਿ ਇਆਣੇ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਵਡਾਰੂ ਸਿਉ ਨੇਹੁ ॥ ਪਾਣੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਲੀਕ ਜਿਉ ਤਿਸ ਦਾ ਥਾਉ ਨ ਥੇਹੁ ॥੪॥: Naal iaanae dosatee vadaaroo siou nehu. Paanee andar leek jiou tis daa thaaou n thehu ||4||: Friendship with a fool (ignorant, blockhead, etc.), and love with a worldly big person (ਦੁਨੀਆਵੀ ਤੌਰ ਤੇ ਵੱਡਾ, etc.) are like lines drawn in water, leaving no trace or mark. ||4|| (sggs 474).
  • ਦੁਸਟਾ ਨਾਲਿ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਨਾਲਿ ਸੰਤਾ ਵੈਰੁ ਕਰੰਨਿ ॥ ਆਪਿ ਡੁਬੇ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਸਿਉ ਸਗਲੇ ਕੁਲ ਡੋਬੰਨਿ ॥: dusataa naal dosatee naal santaa vair karann. Aap dubbe kuttanb siou sagalae kul dobann: Those who make friendships with the wicked, and harbor animosity to the Saints, will be drown (in the world-ocean) with their families, along with will be drowned their entire lineage (sggs 755).

Very stern warning indeed! The Gurbani is of the nature of Truth. However, our Haume (inflated ego) being the mother of falsehood does not like Truth. In the following verse, the Gurbani has used some more strong words, which will undoubted be detested by our Haume-mind and intellect. In this verse, those of us who make friends with the unrighteous are compared with thieves, adulterers, prostitutes and pimps. Because, often these characters are seen dining and wining with the unruly.

  • ਚੋਰਾ ਜਾਰਾ ਰੰਡੀਆ ਕੁਟਣੀਆ ਦੀਬਾਣੁ ॥ ਵੇਦੀਨਾ ਕੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਵੇਦੀਨਾ ਕਾ ਖਾਣੁ ॥: Choraa jaaraa randeeaa kuttaneeaa deebaan. Vedeenaa kee dosatee vedeenaa kaa khaan: Thieves, adulterers, prostitutes and pimps, make friendships with the unrighteous, and eat with the unrighteous (sggs 790).

Everything we see is in this world is perishable, thus temporary. Then why do most of us become attached to the fleeting worldly objects in the first place? The Gurbani provides us with the sure answer - false ego-sense (Haume). It is this false ego-sense that begets negative tendencies (Bikaar - ਬਿਕਾਰ) such as lust, anger, greed, emotional attachment, pride, enviousness, stubborn mindedness, doubts, and so on (i.e., all evil passions and their numerous variations). The material consciousness is very selfish indeed. The Gurbani declares that in this material world "all are concerned only with their own happiness". Not only that, the Gurbani also questions us "With whom should I become friends, if all the world shall pass away?" Our worldly consciousness (false ego-sense or Haume), however, may not agree to this Truth (specially when one is intoxicated with the youth), but that does not change Truth.

  • ਕਾਮਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧਿ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਵਿਆਪੇ ਕੂੜ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਸਿਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਕਰੇ ॥: Kaam krodh ahankaar viaape koorr kuttanb siou preet kare: Engrossed in lust, anger and pride, he falls in love with his false relatives (sggs 1014).
  • ਮਿਥਿਆ ਭਰਮਿ ਭਰਮਿ ਬਹੁ ਭ੍ਰਮਿਆ ਲੁਬਧੋ ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਕਲਤ੍ਰ ਮੋਹ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ॥: Mithiaa bharam bharam bahu bhramiaa lubadho putra kalatra moh preet: In false doubt, people wander all around, lured by love and emotional attachment to their children and families (sggs 1295).
  • ਝੂਠੈ ਕੀ ਰੇ ਝੂਠੁ ਪਰੀਤਿ ਛੁਟਕੀ ਰੇ ਮਨ ਛੁਟਕੀ ਰੇ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗਿ ਨ ਛੁਟਕੀ ਰੇ ॥: Jhoothai kee re jhooth pareet shuttakee re mann shuttakee re saakat sang na shhuttakee re: False is the love of the false one; break the ties, O my mind, and your ties shall be broken. Break your ties with the faithless cynic (sggs 535).
  • ਕਿਸੁ ਨਾਲਿ ਕੀਚੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਸਭੁ ਜਗੁ ਚਲਣਹਾਰੁ ॥: Kis naal keechai dosatee sabh jag chalanehaar: With whom should I become friends, if all the world shall pass away? (sggs 468).
  • ਦੇਵਗੰਧਾਰੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੯ ॥ ਜਗਤ ਮੈ ਝੂਠੀ ਦੇਖੀ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ॥ ਅਪਨੇ ਹੀ ਸੁਖ ਸਿਉ ਸਭ ਲਾਗੇ ਕਿਆ ਦਾਰਾ ਕਿਆ ਮੀਤ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ ਮੇਰਉ ਮੇਰਉ ਸਭੈ ਕਹਤ ਹੈ ਹਿਤ ਸਿਉ ਬਾਧਿਓ ਚੀਤ ॥ ਅੰਤਿ ਕਾਲਿ ਸੰਗੀ ਨਹ ਕੋਊ ਇਹ ਅਚਰਜ ਹੈ ਰੀਤਿ ॥੧॥ ਮਨ ਮੂਰਖ ਅਜਹੂ ਨਹ ਸਮਝਤ ਸਿਖ ਦੈ ਹਾਰਿਓ ਨੀਤ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਭਉਜਲੁ ਪਾਰਿ ਪਰੈ ਜਉ ਗਾਵੈ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੇ ਗੀਤ ॥੨॥੩॥੬॥੩੮॥੪੭॥: Devgandhaaree Mahalaa 9 || Jagat mai jhoothee dekhee preet. Apane hee sukh siou sabh laage kiaa daaraa kiaa meet. ||1|| rahaaou || Mero mero sabhai kahat hai hit siou baadhiou cheet. Ant kaal sangee nah kouoo ih acharaj hai reet ||1|| Mann moorakh ajahoo nah samajhat sikh dai haariou neet. Nanak bhoujal paar parai jo gaavai prabh kae geet ||2||3||6||38||47||: Devgandhaaree Mahalaa 9. In this world, I have seen love to be false. Whether they are spouses or friends, all are concerned only with their own happiness. ||1||Pause|| All say, ""Mine, mine"", and attach their consciousness to you with love. But at the very last moment, none will go along with you. How strange are the ways of the world! ||1|| The foolish mind has not yet reformed itself, although I have grown weary of continually instructing it. O Nanak, one crosses over the terrifying world-ocean, singing the Songs of God ||2||3||6||38||47|| (sggs 536).

Friendship with the fools or the false (Manmukhs) indicates one's level of consciousness to be Mayaic (deluded, ignorant etc.). Accordingly, the Gurbani declares that "Friendship with the Manmukhs is an alliance with Maya." As a result, there cannot be found any lasting peace or happiness in such friendship. If we believe to obtain peace in such false friendship, then it's only our illusion (Maya). For the Maya is deceptive. The Gurbani tells us that the life of the Manmukh is a total waste, so is the friendship with him.

  • ਕੂੜੀ ਆਵੈ ਕੂੜੀ ਜਾਵੈ ਮਾਇਆ ਕੀ ਨਿਤ ਜੋਹਾ ॥: Koorree aavai koorree jaavai May kee nit johaa: False is his coming, and false is his going; he is continually on the lookout for Maya (sgga 960).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖਾ ਕੇਰੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਮਾਇਆ ਕਾ ਸਨਬੰਧੁ ॥: Manmukhaa keree dosatee Maya kaa sanbandh: Friendship with the Manmukhs is an alliance with Maya (sggs 959).
  • ਦੁਨੀਆ ਕੇਰੀ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਦਝਿ ਮਰੰਨਿ ॥: Duneeaa keree dosatee manmukh dajhi maranni: Making worldly friendships (the love of Maya), the Manmukhs (self-willed ...) burn and die (destroy their spiritual life - ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਸਾੜ ਕੇ ਸੁਆਹ ਕਰ ਲੈਂਦੇ ਹਨ). (sggs 755).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਸਉ ਕਰਿ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਸੁਖ ਕਿ ਪੁਛਹਿ ਮਿਤ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖ ਸਉ ਕਰਿ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸਉ ਲਾਇ ਚਿਤੁ ॥ ਜੰਮਣ ਮਰਣ ਕਾ ਮੂਲੁ ਕਟੀਐ ਤਾਂ ਸੁਖੁ ਹੋਵੀ ਮਿਤ ॥੬੬॥: Manmukh saou kar dosatee sukh ki pushahi mit. Gurmukh saou kar dosatee Satgur saou laai chit. Jamman maran kaa mool katteeai taan sukh hovee mit ||66||: O friend, If you make friends with the Manmukhs, how can you ask for Peace ( ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ)? Make friends with the Gurmukhs, and focus your consciousness on the Satguru. (This Way when) the root of birth and death is cut away, then, you will find Ppeace ( ਆਤਮਕ ਆਨੰਦ) ||66|| (sggs 1421).
  • ਵਿਆਪਿਆ ਦੁਰਮਤਿ ਕੁਬੁਧਿ ਕੁਮੂੜਾ ਮਨਿ ਲਾਗਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਮੋਹਾ ॥ ਠਗੈ ਸੇਤੀ ਠਗੁ ਰਲਿ ਆਇਆ ਸਾਥੁ ਭਿ ਇਕੋ ਜੇਹਾ ॥: Biaapiaa durmat kubudh kumooraa man laagaa tis moha. Thagai setee thag ral aayaa sath bhee iko jehaa: The fool is engrossed in evil-mindedness; (because his) mind is attached (to Maya…). A Thug (cheat…), joins with similar Thug; it is a comradeship of like minds (sggs 960).

How does one become the false in the first place? "Forgetting the Naam, one becomes the most false of all the false", answers the Gurbani. The Gurbani also reveals to us specific signs of such a person.

  • ਨਾਮਿ ਬਿਸਾਰਿਐ ਸਭੁ ਕੂੜੋ ਕੂਰਿ ॥: Naam visaariai sabh koorho koori: Forgetting the Naam, one becomes the most false of all the false (sggs 226).
  • ਮੂਰਖੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੋ ਸੁਣੈ ਮੂਰਖ ਕਾ ਕਹਣਾ ॥ ਮੂਰਖ ਕੇ ਕਿਆ ਲਖਣ ਹੈ ਕਿਆ ਮੂਰਖ ਕਾ ਕਰਣਾ ॥ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਓਹੁ ਜਿ ਮੁਗਧੁ ਹੈ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੇ ਮਰਣਾ ॥ ਏਤੁ ਕਮਾਣੈ ਸਦਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਦੁਖ ਹੀ ਮਹਿ ਰਹਣਾ ॥: Moorakh hovai so sunai moorakh kaa kahanaa. Moorakh ke kiqa lakhan hai kiaa moorakh kaa karnaa. Moorakh oh jo mughad hai ahankaare marnaa. et kamaanai sadaadukh dukh hee mahi rahanaa: Only a fool listens to the words of the fool. What are the signs (ਲੱਛਣ) of the fool? What does the fool do (ਮੂਰਖ ਦੀ ਕਰਤੂਤ)? A fool is stupid (Maya stricken); he dies of false ego-sense (ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤੇ ਮਰਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ, his spiritual life is dead). (In intoxication of Maya and egotism, whatever he does) his actions always bring him pain; he lives in pain (sggs 953).

Then, what's the enduring friendship? If we want to move in life in Nanak-like consciousness, the Gurbani's instruction is to make friends with God. The goal of any relationship is to get to know the other better. But that's a little tricky with God, since we can't just go out for a cup of tea with Him and chat about every little thing (although He is always with us!). That's why, to learn about Him and to know Him the best way, we are advised by the Gurbani to hang out with His Gurmukhs (Enlightened Beings) more often and become the Gurmukhs ourselves. God reveals Himself to the Gurmukhs. Also, the Gurbani urges to focus "consciousness on the Satguru".

  • ਹਰਿ ਇਕਸੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਮੈ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਹਰਿ ਇਕਸੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਮੈ ਰੰਗੁ ॥: Har eikasai naal mai dhosathee har eikasai naal mai rang: My friendship is with the One Lord alone; I am in love with the One Lord alone (sggs 958).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖ ਸਉ ਕਰਿ ਦੋਸਤੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਸਉ ਲਾਇ ਚਿਤੁ ॥: Gurmukh so kar dosatee satgur saou laai chit: Make friends with the Gurmukhs, and focus your consciousness on the Satguru (sggs 1421).
  • ਦੀਸੈ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਚੁ ਲਹੀਐ ॥: Deesai braham gurmukh sach laheeai: Behold God; the Truth is revealed to the Gurmukh (sggs 353).

— T. Singh
www.gurbani.org