What is friendship

Friendship is a very unique relation. This is neither blood relation nor a relation created by marriage. Friendship is entirely personal relation between two individuals unlike others. Family relation- by blood or marriage- are group relation and also not of an individual's free choice. Wife's brothers and relatives become your relations and your relations are also your wife's relations. Here you have no choice. A child is born to your parents and he becomes your brother from day one. Similarly, you get a son who becomes nephew and grandson also to your brothers and parents respectively.

Unlike all these relations, a friend is one of your own choice and his relation is unique with you. This is entirely your own relation. How to define friendship. It can be said without any fear of contradiction is that a friend is one with whom you have least hesitation to communicate your thoughts, feelings and needs.  Friendship does not require identity of thoughts and feelings. In fact, no two individuals are same in all respects. Friends can have different attitude but they must have no hesitation or inhibitions. There was an institution 'maitri Club' at Agra. This organization almost vamished after demise of the patron, Raviji. His concept of friendship was simple. A friend should have no inhibition. You may make any demand unheistatingly. The friend should also have no inhibition or hesitation to refuse the demand. The friendship must remain intact even after the demand is refused. To elucidate, You ask your female friend whether you may be physically intimate with  her. She must not get angry at this but may accept or refuse. On her refusal, your friendship must not end. You may still continue gossip with her and even go to movie but not get physical.

Friend in need- a true friend?

How far is this true?  Must a friends always meet your need. This is an entirtely wrong notion. Friend is one with whom you may share your feelings or thoughts and move together. But must he always be helpful at time of need?  There may be many reasons that may disable him to be of any help. Your need may not be such as he may meet. This flows from idea of perfect friendship. Nothing is perfect in the world. A friend should be reliable and have genuine and positive approach towards you. If can meet your needs, this is okay. Otherwise, he should refuse. Then you may talk to some other friend.

The concept of friendship is better understood when you contrast this with that of enemy. enemy is opposite of friendship. enemy is one who has ill will and may harm you. On the other hand, a friend is your well wisher and he will help you or get you help from others. He may not help but still be your well wisher and good companian.  

In real life frienship is not ideal as depicted in movies. In movies like Samga, a friend sacrifices his beloved for the sake of friendship. A song in the movie 'sangam' is worth recall- Dos dost na raha, e jindagi hame tera etbar na rafa (Friend is no more friend. I do not trust life). The idea of sacrificing one's love for sake of friendship also flows from the concept that a woman is commodity and 'love' is transferable. Such type of friendshop is too idealistic and also undesirable and unethical. 

A friend should be true and genuine well wisher    

It goes without saying that a friend must be your well wisher. If he has ill will, he is enemy and not friend. When you are wrong, he should give you correct advice. However, this is more a matter of  intention rather than absolute correctness. Suppose that your friend is a drunkard. He is also a womanizer. He will definitely not suggest that you should not drink. He will guide you about best brands of wine and the bar or place where you may drink. He will guide you about women of easy virtue. His thoughts may not be pious but still he is your best friend. He is very sincere to you whatever be his character. He is a drinker and womanizer and so his best guidance will be truly representative of his character. It depends on you what typew of friends you get. You will get such friends as are similar to you in behavior and character.  A thief will select only another thief as his friend  If the friend gives good advice on committing theft, he is best friend. He is also a friend in need although the need is unlawful.It is rightly said that birds of a feather flock together. 

Single friend is not enough

Why you should need friend. Simple reason is that you are social. You need friends to share views and activities. Your interests are varied. You like to see movies. You like sex. You have interest in sports. You are a book lover. You like to visit places for sight seeing. You play cards. A single friend may not have interests in all these. So, you have different friends- One to drink and dine with, one to share views on current affairs and politics, one for religious and philosophical thoughts, one for sports, one to play chess with and so on. You may also like a girl friend to add spice to your life. There is a difference between girl friend and girlfriend. A girl friend is like any other friend. Her gender is irrelevant.  She may also be interested in  music and books and so you may share views on these matters of interest and spend your time with her. You cannot share bed with her. But a girlfriend will also share bed.     

Equality of status 

There must be no feeling of superiority and inferiority among friends. A friend is neither master nor slave. Freinds are equal- at least in attitude if not in afctual status. Let us recall a book titled 'Friends- not masters' By Late President Mohd. Ayub Khan highlighting that the western powere were no masters of pakistan but were allies and friends of pakistan. Is friendship between Krishna and Sudama, characters of epic Mahabharata genuine. As far as Krsishan is concerned, this was genuine friendship. But Sudama was hesitant to ask for his needs and had an inferiority complex. Thus this was one sided friendship. Krishna was true friend  of Sudama but this cannot be said about the latter.   

Distant friendship

When sharing thoughts and feelings is all that matters, physical nearness is also not very relevant. There were pen friends in the past. The pen friends would share views and feelings by way of correspondence. Now pen friendship has given way to internet friendship. But essentially, poen friendship and internet friendship are same. Basically, both are distant friendship.  It is necessary to understand true nature of distant friendship and not attempt to change this to physical friendship. Physical friendship involves some preference in age, appearance, style also apart from views. Internet friendship may be okay between a seventy year old and one in teens. But if they were to move together, they would be more like grand Pa and grandson rather than friends.  

Short term or long term 

Friendship need necessarily be pemanent. You tastes may change over a period of time.  You love music. You share music album with your friend and talk on fine points of music. But later your hobbies change. You no longer love music. Then friendship will also serve no purpose any longer. Also when you move from a place, you lose friends at old place and get new ones at the place. This happens often with those in transferable jobs. Many say that friendship lasts till you bid farewell at the railway station.  


We may well conclude that there are many attributes of friendship. The essential features of friendship are faith, mutual understanding and absence of inhibitions and hesitation. Sacrifice and surender of self interest are not pragmatic considerations in friendship.  

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