“Krishna, the Supreme Lord, should be accepted as one's best friend. He will never cheat. He will always give His friendly advice and friendly protection to the devotee.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.25.38 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
Friendship is a risky thing. Who doesn’t want to open up to someone else about their problems? Who doesn’t want to share the good things in life with others? Who doesn’t seek validation for their work, for their difficult choices in life? The downside to opening up in such a way is that it leaves you vulnerable. Should there be any argument going forward, you’re left with a potential enemy who knows all of your secrets. The Supreme Lord is not this kind of friend. Though He knows all, He will never cheat a person into revealing things to be used later on to their detriment.
There are certain rules a friend should abide by. In a recently concluded popular American television sitcom, such rules were humorously put together into a book called “The Bro Code.” The idea is that you’re not supposed to turn your back on a brother or sister. This certainly applies to the sibling by birth, but a good friend is like another sibling in a sense. The rules are necessary since it is generally easier for a friendship with a non-relative to break.
There are many rules to a friendship, but the common theme is basic etiquette. If I start complaining about my parents to my friend, my friend should be wise enough to know not to say anything negative about my parents. No matter how much I goad them, no matter how tempting it is, it is better for the friend to hold their tongue. This is because I wouldn’t like it if anyone else spoke ill of my family members.
The friend should be supportive of my choices. If I am temporarily gaining much joy from reading a book or watching a particular series on television, even if the friend doesn’t share the same preference they should not get in the way. They should not tell me that I am silly for liking the things that I do. If they are constantly arguing with me, why will I remain their friend?
Krishna is the perfect friend in this regard. He goes one step further by offering friendly advice and friendly protection. For proof of the protection, we can look to His childhood pastimes in the ancient city of Vrindavana. There is a place on earth today known as Vrindavana. The Sanskrit name means “a forest where the tulasi plant is very prominent.” Vrinda Devi is the tulasi plant, and she is specifically known as the goddess of devotion. She is worshipable not for her medicinal properties, of which there are many, nor for her ability to grant any mundane reward. She gives devotion, which is the most important boon to seek. It would make sense, then, that the place where she is most prominent would become the most sacred land. It would also be the place where devotion flourishes, and for that to happen surely the Supreme Lord Krishna would appear there every now and then.
They say that Krishna never leaves Vrindavana. He may not be manifest to the eyes at the present moment, but He remains there through the devotion of the inhabitants. Some five thousand years ago, He was there in the manifest form, which is His original. He would play every day with the children in the neighborhood. He was everyone’s best friend. It’s not that some were jealous that Krishna got all the attention. Each person thought that the darling child of mother Yashoda was their supreme well-wisher.
Krishna sometimes allowed His friend to defeat Him in wrestling matches. Sometimes Krishna and His friend would poke fun at each other. Krishna generally did not lecture anyone there, but He gave His full protection. Whenever there was trouble, Krishna arrived to save the day. The boys knew that if Krishna was around, everything would be okay.
Later on during His manifest lila, Krishna gave wise advice to His good friend Arjuna on the battlefield. Arjuna sought this advice, and so temporarily Krishna left His position in friendship and took on the role of guru, or spiritual master. He is the adi-guru, or original spiritual teacher. Therefore this role was not new for Him. The words of wisdom He spoke to Arjuna were actually first heard by the sun-god at the beginning of the creation.
“The Blessed Lord said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.1)
Since Krishna gave the same instructions many years prior, it means that He is always around. The individual is eternal as well, which means that in Krishna they get a best friend who stays forever. Krishna witnesses everything as Paramatma, or Supersoul. He knows all our strengths and weaknesses. He never uses that information against us. Rather, He is the best friend who maintains His affection for us no matter what we do. When the individual adopts the same attitude in earnest towards Krishna, they achieve perfection in life.
Krishna to be your friend the best,
Eternal, to stand time’s test.
If to another information you give,
Fear of their divulging then you’ll live.
Friendship thus to come with a code,
A favor done for you then something owed.
Krishna all your faults and blemishes to know,
No matter what, as well-wisher with you to go.