The Naladiyar

The Indian Antiquary, A Journal Of Oriental Research

18,838 words

The Naladiyar is one of the few original works we have in Tamil. It contains altogether forty chapters, of ten stanzas each, on moral subjects....

Chapter 22 - The choice of friends

1. Friendship with the wise, whose intelligence divines our thoughts, is like eating a sugar-cane from the top (as its sweetness increases more and more); connexion with persons without sweetness of disposition is like eating it from the opposite end (the flavour decreasing by degrees).

2. Some accept (the highborn as friends) merely on the ground that such, remembering their high birth, will not act inconsistently--not, O lord of the fair hills, from which the birds flee on the approach of the gold-coloured torrent! because the minds of such are known.

3. Avoiding the friendship of those who resemble elephants, seek the friendship of those who resemble dogs; for an elephant will kill his driver whom he has known for a long time, but a dog will wag his tail while the spear thrown at him is still in his body.

4. Men cleave not to those to whom their hearts cleave not, within a short space of time; but will the friendship which cherishes the memory of those who are intertwined with one's heart be abandoned, though they are absent from us for a long time?

5. When affection continues affection, then is friendship preserved, like the flower on the stalk, which, being full-blown, closes not again. Those who resemble the lotus, which, having once blown, closes again its petals, know neither affection nor friendship.

6. Those who are at the bottom in (the scale of) friendship are like the areca-tree; those others who are in the middle are like the cocoanut-tree. The friendship of those who have experience of .the past is like the palmyra-tree, (whose uses are) difficult to reckon. Such are at the top (in the scale).

7. Even vegetable curry served in the water that rice has been boiled in will be as nectar if a man accept it kindly. To eat the abundance of the unfriendly, though it be white rice flavoured with meat and rich seasoning is (to eat) the kanjira-fruit.

8. Though they adhere to one in friendship as closely as the small toes of a dog to one another, yet of what benefit is the love of those who do not help one even to the extent of the leg of a fly? Therefore, though the friendship of those who, like the channel which fructifies the rice-field, be ever so far away, we must nevertheless go to obtain it.

9. It is better to be without the love of those who are without sincerity. Death is preferable to an incurable disease. To kill him at once is more desirable than to vex a man so that he becomes sore at heart, and to abuse is better than to praise one for that which we do not possess.

10. To join oneself to many, and strive many days and examine dispositions, and take (for friends) those who are worthy, is proper. Even with a deadly serpent, to associate and afterwards to part from it will be painful.

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