Friendships and Religion
The desire for friendship is universal. It is based on our propensity to love someone. Atleast have one friend,who we prefer to spend time with, someone who knows us better than others do, someone we can count on when the need arises. It’s been said that a friend is a gift that we give ourselves. Friend adds to the fullness of life. Authenticity, honesty, and trust are qualities we expect to find in a friend. There’s an understanding that the binding together of people in friendship helps each of us define and realize a meaningful life.
A good friend shows up no matter what. A true friend supports and encourages us, tolerates our shortcomings, accepts us unconditionally, and cares for us no matter what. A real friend walks in when everyone else is walking out. So Today on the day of Frienship Day lets see what Religion has to say about friendship.
Hinduism values friendships, there are many examples in the Indian Mythology which are considered the inspiration for any friendship. Lord ‘Krishna’ is considered the best ‘Sakha’ in the Indian Epics. He is the best friend, who stood for all his friends when they needed them, be it Draupadi, Arjuna or the Sudama. So just lets have a quick look at the best friendships in Indian Mythology.
An eternal bond of friendship exhibiting a flourishing tie, knowing no boundaries of caste, creed or social status is that of Krishna and Sudama. It is said that both were best of friends, despite a huge socio-economic chasm that divided society at the time. It is believed that once Sudama fighting grave poverty, upon insistence of his wife so to combat penury, travelled all the way to Dwarka carrying a humble present for Lord Krishna. This gesture was more of a memento to honour the immortal bond that the two shared. Sudama’s wife packed a small amount of rice for his beloved friend in spite of not having enough food to feed her own children. Lord Krishna was delighted to meet his childhood friend. He savoured the rice serving, while calling it the sweetest meal he ever had.
Karna and Duryodhan might be the villains in the Mahabharatha, but not even their worst enemies can say that they are not loyal even its misplaced. Legends have it that even though Duryodhan wanted to befriend Karna for his own pursuits, the union between them transpired to become one of the best remembered depictions of amity. At the time, Hastinapur was marred with realities of caste and discrimination, Duryodhan challenged conventions and norms by appointing Karna as the King of Anga amidst a battle between Arjuna and Karna. Karna while skilful, lacked an appropriate lineage that rendered his candidature futile in the eyes of Kripa, who mocked Karna on knowing his caste. Realising this, Duryodhana appointed him as the King of Anga, so he was regarded as Arjuna’s equal in that battle of power.
In the Ramayana, even though Trijata is planted as Ravana’s agent, Trijata pines for Lord Ram’s victory. She helps Sita in all her adversities and provides her comfort by keeping her informed of the news from outside world. According to folklore, after Ravana’s death, Trijata is rewarded by Sita and Rama for having been her true companion. Revering her as local goddess, Trijata is worshipped in Ujjain and Varanasi.
According to the Islam a friend should be more than just a person who you can hang out with at any time – they should be a confidante and someone who can always give you the right advice no matter what. The relationship kept with friends is stressed very highly in Islam. Not only is it encouraged, but the importance of having good friends and surrounding yourself with good company is relayed to Muslims many a times.
Here are some Hadiths about friendship that you may not have heard:
Who to befriend?
“Keep company of a believer only and let your food be eaten only by the righteous.”
The seriousness of friendship
“A man follows the religion of his religion; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend” (Abu Dawud)
Who is a true friend?
The true friend is only he who regards his friend in three situations: ordeal, absence, and death.” (Nahjul Balagha)
Why should one have many true friends?
“Try to have as many as possible true friends, for they are the supplies in joy and the shelters in misfortunes.” (Bihar-ul-Anwar)
What to do when your friend does something wrong
“If you wish to mention the faults of your friend, mention your own faults first.” (Bukhari)
The qualities of a good friend
“Your best friend is the one who: seeing him reminds you of Allah, speaking to him increases your knowledge, and his actions remind you of the hereafter.” (Al-Muhasibi)
Buddha spoke of great things during his time on earth and created many sutras for mankind to learn from. His sutra’s had many pearls of wisdom for man to absorb; they even still apply today. They taught compassion to all, regardless of negative actions towards us.
Interestingly, Buddha also gave advice for different types of people that we meet in life. He was especially interested in the friendships we make, because those form our environment and influence us. He described 4 different types of friends we meet and should seek: the helper, the friend who endures in good times and bad, the mentor, and the compassionate friend.
This person can be identified by four things: protecting you when you are vulnerable, a refuge when you’re afraid, and in various tasks providing double what is requested. One who is always there to give aid when needed, one who asks for little to nothing in return. They will always protect you and show you the way when you are lost or need guidance.
The enduring friend
He can be identified by four things: by telling you their secrets, guarding your own secrets closely, not abandoning you in misfortune, and even dying for you. The friend who stands by you through every event in your life, and will always there for you. The enduring one does not pass judgment but is simply there through it all for you.
Can be identified by four things: by restraining you from wrongdoing, guiding you towards good actions, telling you what you ought to know, and showing you the path to the heavens. This type is a teacher or parent/caregiver, someone who teaches through love, kindness, their own actions, and compassion. This person has the most patience with you and truly wants to set an example.
The compassionate friend
Can be identified by four things: by not rejoicing in your misfortune, delighting in your good fortune, preventing others from speaking ill of you, and encouraging others who praise your good qualities. This person showers you with love, praise and happiness regardless of times. They are there to hold your hand and support you through everything. They express their love for you through words, actions, and physical touch.
In Jainism, the ‘feeling of friendship’ – ‘maitri bhavana‘ is one of the twelve feelings or to be cultivated through contemplation and meditation. It has been stressed that humans need to think to be friends of all beings in this universe.
It is believed that, once one realizes the feeling of friendship called amity, he or she cannot think badly of anyone and it makes life easier. There is a prayer in Jainism which when translated in English goes somewhat like this:
May the sacred stream of amity
Flow forever in my heart.
May the universe prosper,
Such is my cherished desire.
The Jain scriptures mention that one must meditate by focusing conscious with a feeling of friendship with the whole universe. By doing so, our thoughts, words, and actions will not be compassionate and he or she will not hurt anybody. Thus, meditation on friendship will lead to being tolerant, forgiving, and caring for one another leading to avoidance of bad karma.
There are a number of friendships in the Bible that remind us of how we should be treating one another on a daily basis. From Old Testament friendships to relationships that inspired epistles in the New Testament, we look to these examples of friendships in the Bible to inspire us in our own relationships.
Abraham and Lot
Abraham reminds us of loyalty and going above and beyond for friends. Abraham gathered hundreds of men to rescue Lot from captivity.
David and Jonathan
Sometimes friendships form almost instantly. Have you ever met anyone that you just knew immediately was going to be a good friend? David and Jonathan were just like that.
Elijah and Elisha
Friends stick it out with one another, and Elisha shows that by not letting Elijah go to Bethel alone.
Naomi and Ruth
Friendships can be forged between different ages and from anywhere. In this case, Ruth became friends with her mother-in-law and they became family, looking out for one another throughout their lives.