Chapter 170 — The Friends of a Wise Man: Good Conduct and Mind

Rama asked, “Tell me sage. Who is that friend with whom he lives? What is the nature of this enjoyment? Is it subjective or objective? Is it is derived from within oneself or from external objects?”

Vasishta replied:—

Only our own conduct is our true friend, whether it is innate in our nature or derived from outside through training and education from others. Our inborn good conduct is as infallibly and friendly to us as the natural beneficence of our parents. Our extraneous good behavior is as governing upon us as the control and restraints of a faithful wife in the intricate maze of life.

A fearless course of life, a well earned livelihood, and a well regulated mode of living, together with a dispassionate temper and coolness of mind are filled with unrestricted and ambrosial sweets. An unblemished life acquired from early youth is able to save a person from all dangers and difficulties in the world and render him trustworthy for every trust, a repository of all wealth and treasures. It is able to preserve men from all evils, just as a father prevents his children from daubing their bodies with dust and dirt and hinders them from all acts of wickedness. Such a life gives a man the passion of fire and the sweetness of flowers. It adds a clarity to his mind and face, just like sunlight brightens the face of day. It supports a man like a father feeding and fondling his child, protecting him from every accident, just as a father ever ready to shield his children from all harm.

As fire purifies the body of gold from alloy and separates the impurity that is to be rejected, so does it show the good qualities from whatever is to be shunned and avoided. 10 It gladdens the hearts of men with polite speech controlled against awkwardness. It is a repository of all laudable pursuits, just like a treasury full of coins and precious gems.

11 As the sun never shows darkness, so a good man never exposes his dark side. As a loving wife shows only her affection to her beloved, so he shows only his tenderness to people. 12 He speaks and behaves kindly with all men, doing them only good. His words are always sweet and cooling without any self-interest. 13 He is the well-wisher of men and therefore is revered by all. He speaks smilingly to all without any craving of his own and displays the form of only goodness to all beings.

14 Should he happen to meet an enemy in a contest who is ready to strike the first blow, he tries to evade his opponent’s blow by some trick or skill.

15 He is the patron of gentle and polite men, the protector of women and his family. He is like nectar medicine to the souls of all who are ailing under sickness of body or heart. 16 He is particularly a patron of learning and the learned. He is a servant of respected men and favors the eloquent and argumentative. He is a companion and trusted friend to his equals in birth and breeding. 17 He gains the favor of princes, noblemen and the liberal towards him. He obtains their favor conducting all sacrifices, charitable acts, devotional austerities and pilgrimages, and contributions from his honest means.

18 He partakes of good food and drink in the company of his friends and brahmins, joining with his wife, children and all his family’s dependants and house residents. He never keeps company except with the good and great. 19 He abstains from all enjoyments, considering them to be like bits of straw and the causes of disease. He occupies himself conversing upon good subjects with his view to the enlightenment and betterment of mankind.

20 In this manner he passes his time in company with his friends and family. He is content with his own state and happy with what fortune has provided for him.

21 Rama asked, “Tell me sage, in short, who are his wives and children and his friends? What are their different forms? What are their respective qualities and virtues?”

22 Vasishta replied:—

His many sons are sacred ablutions and charities, religious austerities and meditation. They are all great souls who are entirely devoted to him.

23 His wife is named Moon-ray (Chandra-lekha). She is like a phase of the moon in her appearance. Her very sight delights the eyes. She is his constant companion, always loving to him and content in herself. 24 She is the ravisher of his heart and the dispeller of the gloom of his mind by reason of her loving kindness to him. She is the delight and delighter of his soul, an ever faithful helpmate to him.

25 He has another consort named Same-Mind (Samata) who is dear to his heart and keeps the door to his house. She pleases him by her very appearance. 26 She fixes her mind always at the mansions of virtue and patience. She runs before and guides the steps of her oppressed lord to the abode of the blessed and blissful.

27 That strong man has another wife named Friendship (Maitri) whom he bears along with Same-Mind on either shoulder. Friendship advises him how to quell the enemies of his king’s states. 28 She is his clever counselor in all honorable acts, giving proof of the truth of her advice by increasing his wealth and rendering him honorable before all.

29 Being employed this way in the discharge of his duties in the circle of his friends, family and advisers, the wise man is always pleased in himself and never complains or grumbles at any person or anything whatever. 30 The wise man always remains as he is, silent and calm in his mind. He always remains as unmoved as a figure in a painting, though he may be moving about in the ordinary affairs of life. 31 He remains as dumb as a stone in fruitless discussions, pretending to be deaf in useless conversation. 32 He is like a dead body in acts that are against the social usage, but in conversations regarding polity and good manners he is as eloquent as the wise Brihaspati and as fluent as the snake Sesha with its hundred tongues. 33 When engaged in some righteous discourse, he exposes the fallacy of sophistic reasoning. He clears all doubts in a moment by the versatility of his conversation on various subjects all at once.

34 He is tolerant and magnanimous, bounteous and charitable. He is flexible and gentle. He is sweet in his speech, handsome in his look, and famed for his pious acts. 35 Such is the character of enlightened men of their own nature. No practice or education can ever make anyone this way. The sun and moon and fire are bright by themselves. There is nothing else that can ever make them shine.