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Company we keep

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This article is part of the series on the "Message of Gurbani"
File:Not best friend.jpg

What influence does the company that we keep have on us? According to the Guru Granth Sahib, the company that we keep has a marked influence on us resulting in disastrous consequences if we are not careful. "Kabeer, I have been ruined and destroyed by bad company" (SGGS p 1369). Bhagat Kabir tells us frankly how his life was destroyed due to the companionship of bad sangat.

Gurbani warns us that through our relationship with others around us we ourselves change. We all know the saying "A person is the product of his or her environment." The Sri Guru Granth Sahib reveals to us that our friendships and the sangat (company) that we keep has a profound influence on our outlook, the way we act, the way we behave and our future development.

The Guru says: "False is friendship with the false and greedy. False is its foundation" (SGGS p 1412). The message again is clear; friendship with a fool, a untruthful person, a corrupt being, a Manmukh (self-centred, self-willed, a person in worldly consciousness, etc.), person who is wicked, pompous (proud or arrogant), unrighteous, greedy, unfaithful and so on — is founded on false foundation, therefore, will lasts "for only a few short days" and will "never works out right". This sort of friendship will lead to ruins a person who wishes to embrace the path of righteousness (Dharam).

The implication is that if we associate and have friends with good qualities or virtues, our nature will change accordingly. However, on the other hand, if we make friends with someone who has bad qualities, he (or she) will be a bad influence on us for such "friendship leads to corruption". The more deeper the friendship the more wide spread the negative or positive influence.

Accordingly, the Great Souls tell us that one can tell - "who you are by the company you keep!" - Thus goes the proverbial expression "you are the company you keep".

The following lines or tuks from the Guru Granth Sahib explain the dangers of associating with the "wrong" type of company and how the company that we keep influences us:

Ruined by bad company

ਕਬੀਰ ਮਾਰੀ ਮਰਉ ਕੁਸੰਗ ਕੀ ਕੇਲੇ ਨਿਕਟਿ ਜੁ ਬੇਰਿ ॥ ਉਹ ਝੂਲੈ ਉਹ ਚੀਰੀਐ ਸਾਕਤ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਹੇਰਿ ॥੮੮॥
Kabīr mārī mara▫o kusang kī kele nikat jo ber. Uh jẖūlai uh cẖīrī▫ai sākaṯ sang na her. ((88))
Kabeer, I have been ruined and destroyed by bad company, like the banana plant near the thorn bush.
The thorn bush waves in the wind, and pierces the banana plant; see this, and do not associate with the faithless cynics. ((88))

Run away from company of evil people

ਸਾਧੋ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਮਾਨੁ ਤਿਆਗਉ ॥ ਕਾਮੁ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਦੁਰਜਨ ਕੀ ਤਾ ਤੇ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਭਾਗਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Sāḏẖo man kā mān ṯi▫āga▫o. Kām kroḏẖ sangaṯ ḏurjan kī ṯā ṯe ahinis bẖāga▫o. ((1)) rahā▫o.
: Holy Saadhus: forsake the pride of your mind.

Sexual desire, anger and the company of evil people - run away from them, day and night. ((1)(Pause))


If you don't keep good company

ਅੰਤਰਿ ਲਹਰਿ ਲੋਭਾਨੁ ਪਰਾਨੀ ਸੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਚਿਤਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ॥
ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਸੰਗੁ ਨ ਕੀਆ ਬਹੁ ਜੋਨੀ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਵੈ ॥
Anṯar lahar lobẖān parānī so parabẖ cẖiṯ na āvai.
Sāḏẖsangaṯ si▫o sang na kī▫ā baho jonī ḏukẖ pāvai.
The waves of greed are rising up within him, and he does not remember God.
He does not join the Company of the Holy, and he suffers in terrible pain through countless incarnations.


Company of the good and wise

Always seek and keep the compnay of the good, wise and holy people:

ਜਿਨੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਸਲਾਹਿਆ ਤਿਨਾ ਸਭ ਕੋ ਕਹੈ ਸਾਬਾਸਿ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਕੀ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਦੇਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਮੈ ਜਾਚਿਕ ਕੀ ਅਰਦਾਸਿ ॥
Jinī gurmukẖ nām sahāli▫ā ṯinā sabẖ ko kahai sābās. Ŧin kī sangaṯ ḏėh parabẖ mai jācẖik kī arḏās.
Those Gurmukhs who praise the Naam are applauded by everyone.

Grant me their company, God - I am a beggar; this is my prayer.


ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਇ ॥ ਕਰਿ ਸੰਗਤਿ ਨਿਤ ਸਾਧ ਕੀ ਗੁਰ ਚਰਣੀ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
Mere man har har nām ḏẖi▫ā▫e. Kar sangaṯ niṯ sāḏẖ kī gur cẖarṇī cẖiṯ lā▫e. ((1))rahā▫o.
O my mind, meditate on the Name of the Lord, Har, Har.
Always keep the Company of the Holy, and focus your consciousness on the Feet of the Guru. ((1)(Pause))


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