A MAN IS KNOWN BY THE COMPANY HE KEEPS
Prof Dr Colonel K Prabhakar Rao ( Retired)
There is a very popular English saying, “ A man is known by the company he keeps”. Man in his journey on the earth is surrounded by various evils and attractions. Invariably attractions around are the entrance doors to evil. The five traits Kama ( Desire), Krodha ( Anger), Lobha( Miserliness), Moha ( Attachmnet), Mada ( Arrogance) and Matsyarya ( Jealousy) always follow a human being and try to corner him and envelop him causing his down fall. Man can not live alone in this world and he is a social animal. He interacts with others on various matters. He interacts with own kith and kin, relatives and friends. In politics leaders interact with even enemies i.e members of other parties because in politics there is no permanent friend or foe. All are temporary. Man can always judge others by various traits displayed by him on various occasions. A mans reputation in society can be judged by talking to others. However at times the real truth about a person would be known when one really interacts with him over a time. Many do not display true colours immediately on contact and as time passes true colors are displayed.
When a person is in company of good and noble people, he invariably would develop similar traits and his reputation also would be built up accordingly. When he is in company of tricksters, thieves, criminals and dubious persons, his reputation in society is also affected and people would not respect him. Many fear and avoid him too. The evil influences from the friends are known to affect him and even if he was noble once, invariably he would deviate from truthful ways and would tread path of sin. There could be some exceptions. Some say son of a thief has to be thief only. However this is not necessary. Son of a Rakshasa (Asura) need not be a Rakshasa by himself and still could develop very good qualities.
As per Hindu mythology, Devas (Gods) and Asuras were brothers born to different mothers. In this context, it is very appropriate to quote the life of Prahlada the son of asura king Hiranyakasipa. He was the staunch hater of Lord Vishnu and he took oath to destroy Vishnu as revenge against the killing of his younger brother Hiranyaksha by Vishnu. He received great boons from Lord Brahma so that he could not be destroyed by the most powerful. Prahlada was the son of Hiranyakasipa and from child hood he was the ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This was utterly disliked by the father and he made all attempts to dissuade his son from this practice; but to of no avail. His attempts to get his son killed also failed. Finally Vishnu killed Hiranyakasipa taking the form of a lion man to overcome the various boons given to the asura king and saved the world (2). The point to note here is that young Prahlada although was the son of an Asura, did not develop any such qualities and was on the truthful path. Such exceptional cases are very few in all parts of world and children developed and brought up in evil homes are liable to acquire similar qualities due to circumstances. It is relevant also to note that mother is the first companion to any child. He acquires all noble qualities from the mother if well guided from childhood. Negligence by the mother would cause serious harm to the development of the child. Father although is important can not take the place of the mother. As the child grows and becomes an adult, his company becomes very important where he spends most of his time. He emulates many things from his friends and picking up evil things is very easy than virtuous things.
In India we find many Sadhus, Babas, Maharshi, Swamis and Gurus who have opened ashrams ( Hermitages) and are engaged in spiritual work. The gatherings where they conduct spiritual activities and give spiritual discourses are of great value to the people. These holy associations help in directing people on truthful path that is most essential to attain liberation. When one is associated with a holy man, it is bound to influence the followers (2). Unfortunately some of the tricksters and cheats are also passing off as Babas and gurus where people are gullible folk particularly women are duped. Such evil men bring bad name to the institutions. However it does not mean that all are bad. Most of them are honorable and good and distinguished scholars and men of repute and distinction. They are reputed authors too of religious texts. Therefore it would be good to attend such meetings to derive benefits and receive guidance. The company we keep has a powerful effect on our ability to blossom fully. It's amazing how good company can help bring us out of an agitated state of mind, and how quickly bad company can put us in one. Of course one goal on the journey of spiritual happiness is to become independent of outer circumstances. However, until we reach that great state of completely independent spiritual happiness, it makes sense to take care regarding the company we keep (3).
1.Prahlada Charitra ( From Bhagavatham, Telugu translation by Potanamatya of of 14 century), Sri Krishnandashrama Geetha prachara Sangham. Regd No. 308/67, ilsukhnagar, Hyderabad, AP, India, 500060, 1984
2. JP. Vaswani, Take care of your Sanga, East West series, Volume 51 No.5, May 2009, PP 11
3.Sharon Janis, The secrets of spiritual happiness, http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:FofjhOabpfUJ:www.spiritual-happiness.com/sosh22.html+The+importance+of+keeping+good+company+for+upliftment&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=in
Dr K Prabhakar Rao