The One With The Four Groups

[Balarama and Krishna]“Since Krishna is the source of our generation, or the supreme father, no one can be a better friend than Krishna, nor can anyone be a better well-wisher. Krishna is the original source of creation and the ultimate rest after annihilation. Krishna is therefore the eternal cause of all causes.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.18 Purport)

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“Some way or other, be Krishna conscious.” This is the instruction first given by the prominent Vaishnava saints of the past. It was subsequently passed on to future generations in the chain of disciplic succession. The meaning is quite clear. There are many obstacles in life. There are many changes as well. There are many things to distract the mind away from the most important matter: spirituality. Therefore, despite whatever comes your way, despite whatever attachments and distastes you develop, think of God. Especially think of Him at the time of death, where you will be rewarded with the appropriate time and setting in the next life.

[Bhagavad-gita, 8.5]“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)

[Lord Krishna]One of the reasons to be Krishna, or God, conscious in any possible way is that God is the best friend of the living entity. By definition, this has to be true. He is the only entity capable of accepting unlimited prayers. He is worshiped in one home through His deity manifestation, and also in another home in a replica form. I can worship Him in my room and my son can worship Him in another room, and Krishna will accept both. No other person can do this. He lives with me in my heart in this life and He will do so in all subsequent lives as well. No one else will do this.

Bryan was one day explaining all of this to his friend Ted. Bryan was explaining how Krishna is the only true friend and that all others come and go. To get his point across better, he explained to Ted about an important celebration his brother hosted a few years back and how he went about deciding whom to invite.

So my brother was telling me that he had to decide which people to invite. It was a dilemma since the event was taking place overseas. Not everyone would be able to attend. Plus, he didn’t have much time to plan things. The event was put together on a whim, as that is how things often work in this world. In deciding the guest list and the arrangements, my brother realized he had four distinct groups of friends.

The first group consisted of the people with whom he worked. He saw them five days a week. In a lot of ways, we see our colleagues more than we see anyone else. So he couldn’t keep this event a secret from them. He had to tell some of them about it. After sharing the good news and inviting them, none of them could attend.

The second group consisted of his friends from the different clubs and associations with which he had affiliation. He saw these people perhaps once or twice a week. After getting declined by his colleagues, my brother decided not to even tell the people from this second group. What would be the point, he thought. They would only feel bad for not being able to attend. He could tell them about everything after the fact.

The third group consisted of his friends from college and before. These were his lifelong friends. When he told them, pretty much all of them agreed to come. It was short notice, for sure, but since he was so important to them, they made the sacrifice.

The fourth group consisted of his immediate family members. Brothers, sisters, parents, and some aunts and uncles even – they all instantly decided that they were going. There wasn’t even a need to ask. They weren’t going to miss this important moment in my brother’s life.

So from this event my brother sort of prioritized his friends. The group from work he saw the most, but in fact the relationships weren’t so great. In an instant they could switch jobs and then never see each other again. That had already happened to my brother several times.

The group from the associations was only seen once or twice a week. Also, they hadn’t known my brother for very long. The bond was only through the association, and once someone stops attending or chooses another group the relationship breaks. Again, the friendship wasn’t so strong.

The bond to the group from college and before was very strong. Though my brother seldom saw those people now, they could be counted on to come through for him. They knew him from a very young age, so the relationship wasn’t as dependent on outside factors.

Obviously the group consisting of family members was the strongest in friendship. My parents have known me and my brothers and sisters since we were born. They are always there for us. They may not know everything that is going on in our lives, but we can always count on them.

[Krishna with His friends]In relaying this story to Ted, Bryan pointed out that even the best friends, the family members, are tied to us through a temporary bond. Once this life is over, those friendships are gone. The link to the Supreme Lord, however, stays forever. Even the worst sinner, who has completely forgotten about God, has the Lord travelling with them. The difference with the devotee is that they take advantage of the friendship. They reconnect with the one person who is always there to stay, who has witnessed everything from this and previous lives as well. And so the wise earnestly take up friendship with Him by always chanting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Though many friends have we may,

None of them forever to stay.


Close we are more with some,

And with others real bond none.


Though living in heart difficult to see,

Know that Krishna to always travel with me.


To everyone friend the best,

There when departed have the rest.


In bhakti of His presence advantage take,

Chant His names, no more His kindness forsake.

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