Friendship as devotion

‘Many paths, one goal’ is the watchword in the spiritual

highway and in it is subsumed the wealth of approaches to

match the infinite variety of individual predilections. Among these, friendship as devotion to the Lord is a rare experience granted to a chosen, deserving few, as in the case of Sugriva in the Ramayana or the Vraja folk in general and Sudama in particular in the Bhagavata Purana, pointed out Srimati Prema Pandurang in a discourse.

Friendship is an ennobling relationship to be cherished

and it can blossom between individuals only with God’s

grace. Friends belong to a diferent class and are a cut above all other human relationships. Relatives demand, but friends give. A friend is selfless, informal, bound by love and kindness alone, and one who stands like a rock in times of calamity. Sugriva is most fortunate, says Valmiki, because he is sought by the very Lord who is the refuge of all. Both Rama and Sugriva are in a plight where mutual help would be beneficial to them. They make a clean breast of their present  situation.

On the one hand is Rama, bereft of Sita, and clueless about

her whereabouts; on the other, Sugriva is caught in a fix in

the form of enmity with his brother, the powerful Vali.

A pact is made. Rama promises to eliminate the fears of

Sugriva and Sugriva in turn vows to find Sita. As if to portend the success of this search for Sita, he tells Rama that he and his companions had seen a rakshasa carrying a weeping lady across the skies. She too had noticed these vanaras and had tied up her jewels in her upper garment and thrown it down in their midst. Rama’s hopes are

revived when He recognises Sita’s sash.