796 – Friendship

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Friends during Distress

The following story is narrated by Bhisma to Yudishtra in Mahabharat.

In a kingdom ruled by Kashiraja, there were dense forests. One day, a hunter chased a deer and it ran into a nearby forest. Deciding to kill the deer, he readied an arrow fully soaked with a deadly poison and resumed his chase. After spotting the deer, he aimed at it and released the arrow. The arrow missed the deer by a whisker and pierced a fully grown up tree nearby.  Since the arrow had a deadly poison, in couple of days, the tree lost its fruits and leaves and become bare. In the entire forest, that tree alone was  bare.  Since it was a dense tree, lot of birds had built their nests in the tree and living there comfortably. But when the tree started losing its vigour, all but one of the birds flew away to greener pastures. One bird decided not to move and stay put in the tree.  It did not go out in search of food and became weak.

Lord Indra on seeing the bird’s state, enquired about its decision to stay back and not go to fertile trees, like other birds. The bird said, that this tree, all along from its childhood days, had provided shelter, saved it from hunters,  provided food and also comfort in extreme weather conditions. Just because, it has lost its vigour, it would be ungrateful on its part to fly away. Hence, the decision to stay back and undergo the pain and misery, the tree is presently experiencing.

Lord Indra was overwhelmed by the bird’s gesture and offered to satisfy a wish, of its choice. The bird asked for the tree to be restored to its previous state. Lord Indra obliged.

Moral of the Story

It is only during distress, that, one can identify friends and well-wishers. They alone stay back and share the disappointment, pain and misery.

Thiruvalluvar in Couplet 796 suggests the same. Even a catastrophe has some good hidden things as it is a yard-stick to identify true friends from opportunists, as the latter will just run away when misfortune strikes.

கேட்டினும் உண்டோர் உறுதி கிளைஞரை 
நீட்டி அளப்பதோர் கோல்

Kettinum Undor Urudhi Kilaignarai
Neetti Alappadhor Coal

பரிமேலழகர் உரை: 

கிளைஞரை நீட்டி அளப்பது ஓர் கோல் – ஒருவனுக்குக் கேடு என்பது தன் நட்டாராகிய புலங்களை எஞ்சாமல் அளப்பதோர் கோல்; கேட்டினும் ஓர் உறுதி உண்டு – ஆகலின் அதன்கண்ணும் அவனால் பெறப்படுவதோர் நல்லறிவு உண்டு. (தத்தம் நட்பெல்லைகள் சுருங்கியிருக்கவும் செல்வக்காலத்துப் புறத்துத் தோன்றாமல் போந்தார், பின் கேடு வந்துழிச் செயல் வேறுபடுதலின், அக்கேட்டால் அவை வரையறுக்கப்படும் என்பது பற்றிக் கேட்டினைக் கோலாக்கியும்,அதனால் அவரை அளந்தறிந்தால் ஆவாரையே கோடலின், அவ்வறிவை ‘உறுதி’ என்றும் கூறினார். கிளைஞர்: ஆகுபெயர், இஃது ஏகதேச உருவகம்..).

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

ஸ்னேஹதத்வம்  பரிஜ்ஞாதும்  கே²த³: ஸ்யான்மான த³ண்ட³வத் |
தஸ்மாத் து³:க²ஸ்ய ஸம்ப்ராப்தி-ரபி க்ஷேமாய கல்பதே ||