From The Mahabharata
Shaanti Parva, Section CLXVIII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
King Yudhishthira said: “O grandsire, you who are possessed of great wisdom, I shall ask you a question. It befits you, O enhancer of the happiness of the Kuru-s, to discourse to me fully upon it. What kind of men are said to be of gentle disposition? With whom may the most delightful friendship exist? Tell us also who are able to do good in the present time and in the end. I am of opinion that neither swelling wealth, nor relatives, nor kinsmen, occupy that place which well-wishing friends occupy. A friend capable of listening to beneficial counsels, and also of doing good, is exceedingly rare. It befits you, O foremost of virtuous men, to discourse fully on these topics.”
Those with whom friendship may not be formed:
Bhishma said: “Listen to me. O Yudhishthira, as I speak to you, in detail, of those men with whom friendships may be formed and those with whom friendships may not be formed.
“One that is covetous, one that is pitiless, one that has renounced the duties of his order, one that is dishonest, one that is a knave, one that is mean, one that is of sinful practices, one that is suspicious of all, one that is idle, one that is procrastinating, one that is of a crooked disposition, one that is an object of universal obloquy, one that dishonors the life of his preceptor, one that is addicted to the seven well known vices, one that casts off distressed friends, one possessed of a wicked soul, one that is shameless, one whose sight is ever directed towards sin, one that is an atheist, one that a slanderer of the Veda-s, one whose senses are not restrained, one that gives free indulgence to lust, one that is untruthful, one that is deserted by all, one that transgresses all restraints, one that is deceitful, one that is devoid of wisdom, one that is envious, one that is wedded to sin, one whose conduct is bad, one whose soul has not been cleansed, one that is cruel, one that is a gambler, one that always seeks to hurt friends, one that covets wealth belonging to others, that wicked-souled wight who never expresses satisfaction with what another may give him according to the extent of his means, one that is never pleased with his friends, O bull among men, one that becomes angry on occasions that do not justify anger, one that is of restless mind, one that quarrels without cause, that sinful bloke who feels no scruples in deserting well-meaning friends, that wretch who is always mindful of his own interests and who, O king, quarrels with friends when those do him a very slight injury or inflict on him a wrong unconsciously, one who acts like a foe but speaks like a friend, one who is of perverse perceptions, one who is blind (to his own good), one who never takes delight in what is good for himself or others, should be avoided.
“One who drinks alcoholic beverages, one who hates others, one who is wrathful, one who is devoid of compassion, one who is pained at the sights of other’s happiness, one who hurts friends, one who is always engaged in taking the lives of living creatures, one who is ungrateful, one who is vile, should be avoided. Alliances (of friendship) should never be formed with any of them. Similarly, no alliance (of friendship) should be formed with him who is ever intent upon marking the faults of others.
Those men with whom friendships may be formed:
“Listen now to me as I indicate the persons with whom alliances (of friendship) may be formed.
“They that are well-born, they that are possessed of eloquence and politeness of speech, they that are endued with knowledge and science, they that are possessed of merit and other accomplishments, they that are free from covetousness, they that are never exhausted by labor, they that are good to their friends, they that are grateful, they that are possessed of varied information and knowledge, they that are devoid of avarice, they that are possessed of agreeable qualities, they that are firm in truth, they that have subdued their senses, they that are devoted to athletic and other exercises, they that are of good families, they that perpetuate their races, they that are devoid of faults, they that are possessed of fame, should be accepted by kings for forming alliances (of friendship) with them.
“They again, O monarch, who become pleased and contented if one behaves with them according to the best of one’s powers, they who never get angry on occasions that do not justify anger, they who never become displeased without sufficient cause, those persons who are well conversant with the science of profit and who, even when annoyed, succeed in keeping their minds tranquil, they who devote themselves to the service of friends at personal sacrifice, they who are never estranged from friends but who continue unchanged (in their attachment) like a red blanket made of wool (which does not easily change its color), they who never disregard, from anger, those that are poor, they who never dishonor youthful women by yielding to lust and loss of judgment, they who never point out wrong paths to friends, they who are trustworthy, they who are devoted to the practice of righteousness, they who regard gold and brick-bats with equal eye, they that adhere with firmness to friends and well-wishers, they who muster their own people and seek the accomplishment of the business of friends regardless of their own dignity and casting off all the marks of their own respectability, should be regarded as persons with whom alliances (of friendship) should be made. Indeed, the dominions of that king spread on every direction, like the light of the lord of the stars, who makes alliances of friendship with such superior men. Alliances should be formed with men that are well-practised in weapons, that have completely subdued their anger, that are always strong in battle and possessed of high birth, good behavior, and varied accomplishments.
“Among those vicious men, O sinless one, that I have mentioned, the vilest are those that are ungrateful and that hurt friends. Those persons of wicked behavior should be avoided by all. This, indeed, is a settled conclusion.”
Friendship isn’t about who we have known the longest.
It’s about those who came and never left our side…