If you run a search of his name, what you will first find is the 20-odd books listed against author ‘Shubha Vilas’ on the biggest e-commerce sites. A cursory glance will show these books highlight different aspects of our ancient scriptures in a manner that speaks easily to both children and youth. When such an author selects the subject of friendship for his latest book, at a time when we all are being re-introduced to physical isolation, there are several questions that beg asking.
Friendship – Is it relevant today?
“Friendship is one of the most important relationships, which can inspire people at a deeper level,” the author affirms, “But today I see people are surrounded by loneliness; they have no one to open their heart to and that speaks of an acute lack of affection.”
When you bring up the topic of the connections people make on social media, Shubha notes, “With social media so rampant and multitudes of friends/followers online, it’s interesting that we lead such hollow lives.” Revealing the need of the hour, he continues, “With thousands online, in real life we often lack even one person to connect with. And so I felt ‘friendship’ is a subject that needs deeper contemplation today. I haven’t found many books about how to make and retain good friends. And that’s why I wrote one. The book borrows wisdom from our Vedic scriptures as they have a lot of insights on meaningful friendships. I connected this knowledge to the modern understanding of friendship in order to present a composite idea.”
Evolution of the concept of Friendship
“Earlier, if people said you are friends, they meant it, while friendship has become superficial now. People use their friends like commodities and love things, which should be the other way round. Friends have become commodities today — they are used and thrown. This shallow understanding of friendship ensures that people don’t evolve to the level of selflessness, as is the case with friendships from the past. Krishna and Arjun or Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad — these are powerful examples of friendships that we lack today. They lived as friends, they connected as friends, they fought side-by-side and died as friends,” Shubha points out.
He narrates a story to illustrate the meaning of friendship: “Two friends were walking through a jungle when they heard a heavy rustling behind them. They turned to see a grizzly bear approaching them and ran for their lives. In the middle of this intense chase, one of the friends stopped to remove a pair of running shoes from his backpack and proceeded to wear them. Seeing him stop, the second friend asked if he was out of his mind - ‘No matter what you do, you can’t outrun a bear’. With a smile, the first friend answered that he knew well that he couldn’t outrun the bear—all he had to do was outrun his friend!”
“Such is the competitive mind set: Save yourself first, at any cost. Such competition stifles friendship and promotes animosity where only the fittest survive. In this fight for survival, there should be some people who will be our refuge against the rest of the world. If we compete with this very people, we will be lonely and miserable. Only friendship can provide a safe haven.”
Levels of friendship
The author explains the four levels of friendship, the first being ‘Bandhus or Associates’. “About 95 per cent of your friendships are with people who happen to be around us—neighbours, schoolmates, college-mates, and colleagues who aren’t necessarily good friends. You come together to share experiences, learning and for a purpose; when that is met, you part ways,” he explains. A Bandhu may become a Suhrit but not every Bandhu is a Suhrit.
Then there’s ‘Sakhas or Friends’ – people who have managed to make inroads into your heart over time. Sakhas are invested in your growth and help connect you with others. Their strength lies in the connections they form with others and their fuel is other people’s gratitude – it makes them feel good.
The next level is that of ‘Priya Sakhas or Confidential Friends’, an even rarer species of people who you love to be with, whose company you enjoy and come back supercharged. “Bandhus and Sakhas might let you down sometimes, but that’s never the case with Priya Sakhas. They know how to pick you up when you are down, make you smile and lift your spirits,” he declares.
‘Suhrits or Best Friends’ come last as they are that one-in-a-million friend we all crave. A Suhrit is always there for you no matter what phase of life you are in. The friendship runs so deep that words become unnecessary for you two to understand each other’s feelings. There’s a complete alignment and understanding of one another. A Suhrit lives for their friend and will stand by you even if no one will. They accept you as you are because they love you unconditionally.
Questioned about the timing of the launch, Shubha mentions the timeliness instead. “Books are your best friends in dire times. With so many people going through so much crisis and loneliness, if they find a good friend (in a book) that teaches them ways to find good friends, it will save so many lives. Hence, I feel this is the best time to launch ‘The Magic of Friendships’.”
(Click here to to buy the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/Magic-Friendships-Make-them-Understand/dp/014344655X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=shubha+vilas&qid=1596432631&sr=8-1)