Chapter 98 — Praise of Good Society

Vasishta continued:—

Those among the judicious and wise who are indifferent and unconcerned with the world, and have surrendered to God resting in His state of supreme bliss, have all their desires and delusions stopped and their enemies lessened in this world. Such a man is neither gladdened nor irritated at anything, nor does he engage in any matter or employ himself in the accumulation of earthly effects. He does not annoy anybody, nor is he annoyed by anyone. He does not bother his head about theism or atheism, nor torment his body with religious austerities.

He is agreeable and sweet in his behavior and pleasing and gentle in his conversation. His company gladdens the hearts of all, just as moonlight delights the minds of men. He is prudent in all affairs and the best judge in all matters. He is without any anxiety in his conduct, polite and friendly to all. He patiently manages all his outward business, but remains quite cool in his inner mind. He is learned in the scriptures, taking delight in their exposition. He knows all people both past and present. He also knows what is good and bad and is content with whatever comes to pass on him.

The wise act according to the established custom of good people and refrain from what is opposed to it. They gladden all men with their free advice, just as the warm breeze entertains them with the freely given scent of flowers. They afford a ready reception and table to the needy. They treat the needy that come to their doors with respect, just as the blooming lotus entertains the bee that rests on it. By their endeavors, they attract the hearts of people to save them from their sins.

They are as cold as any cooling thing, like the clouds of rainy season, and are as quiet as rocks. They are capable of removing the disasters of people by their meritorious acts. 10 They have the power to prevent impending dangers of men, just as mountains keep the earth from falling at an earthquake. They support the failing spirit of men in their calamitous circumstances and congratulate them on their prosperity. 11 Their faces are as pleasant as the fair appearance of the moon and they are like the well wishers of men, like loving consorts. Their fame fills the world like flowers of spring in order to produce fruit for the general good.

12 Holy men are like the spring season. Their voices are like the notes of kokila nightingales, delighting all mankind. Their minds are like profound oceans, undisturbed by turbulent waves or whirlpools of passions and thoughts of other people. 13 They pacify others’ troubled minds by their wise counsel, just as cold weather calms turbulent seas and puts their noisy waves to rest. 14 They resemble robust rocks on the seashore, withstanding the force of the dashing surges of worldly troubles and afflictions that overwhelm and bewilder the minds of mankind. 15 Only good people seek out these saintly men in times of utmost danger and distress. These and the like are the signs whereby these good hearted people are distinguished from others.

16 Let the weary traveler, in his tiresome journey through this world that resembles the rough sea filled with huge whales and serpents, rely only upon his maker for his rest. 17 There is no other means to pass over this hazardous ocean without the company of the good which, like a sturdy vessel, safely carries him across. There is no reasoning required to prove it so. It must be so.

18 Therefore do not remain like a dull bear in its den, vainly worrying over your sorrows. Seek refuge in the wise man who possesses any of these virtues. That is your remedy and leave all other concerns. 19 Mind not his fault but respect his merit. Learn with all diligence, beginning in your youth, to discern the good and bad qualities of men. 20 First of all, improve your understanding by all means and by the company of the good and by careful study of the scriptures. Serve all good people without minding their faults. 21 Shun the society of men who are conspicuous for some great and incorrigible crime. Otherwise it will change the sweet composure of your mind to bitterness and disturbance.

22 This I know from my observation, the righteous turning to unrighteousness. This is the greatest of all evils, when the honest turn to dishonesty. 23 This change and falling off of good men from their moral righteousness have been seen in many places and at different times. Therefore it is necessary to choose the company of only the good for one’s safety in this and salvation in the next world. 24 Therefore no one who is to be regarded with respect and esteem should live far from the society of the good and great. The company of the good, though slightly sought, is sure to purify the newcomer with the flying fragrance of their virtues.