Whenever I come to visit another country, I must give an explanation to immigration. They ask me, “Where are you going? Where are you staying?” It is natural that they will ask about these things. I always give the same answer: “I am going to meet with my friends and their families.”
The word ‘friend’ in Bengali and Sanskrit, bandhava, is a very heavy word. The meaning is very heavy.
utsave vyasane prapte durbhikse satru-sankate
raja-dvare smasane cha yas tisthati sa bandhavah
(Chanakhya Niti: 12)
Who is a real friend? A real friend is always with me during festival time and also when I am in a situation of much trouble. When a food crisis occurs in my family, a real friend will come forward to help me. When a political revolution occurs in the country, a real friend will be with me, and when my body goes for cremation, a real friend will stand by me.
A friend must have this mentality. When I say that you are all my friends, you must consider my meaning to be like that. I try to do good for you all, as best as possible by me, and I ask that you all try to accept that and behave like that with me.
Actually, we are all coming from Lord Krishna’s power, and He is the creator of all the universes, not only the jiva-souls. So, when our father is the same, then we are all friends, brothers, and very close relatives.
The demoniac and illusory mentality has captured the whole world due to maya. Through that, we are sometimes becoming enemies, sometimes becoming friends, sometimes becoming relatives, sometimes becoming this, that, and so on. But Prahlad Maharaj said in Srimad Bhagavatam to Hiranyakasipu, his father, “You are differentiating between me, yourself, and others, but I do not see like that. I see that Krishna is living everywhere and Krishna is the friend of everyone. The tendency to analyse in a differential, inimical way comes from maya.”
Prahlad Maharaj says in Srimad Bhagavatam,
sa yadanuvratah pumsam pasu-buddhir vibhidyate
anya esa tathanyo ’ham iti bheda-gatasati
[“When the Lord favours a soul, the animalistic mentality that, ‘He is separate and I am separate’ is destroyed.”]
When Krishna mercifully gives His divine rays of mercy upon us, we will understand what is what.
Spoken in August 2000.