The Buddha on Friends and Friendship

What the Greeks called philia is what the Buddha called mittata. Both words mean loving friendship or brotherly love. Until recently, even in Western societies, friendships were much closer and deeper than is expected today. The friendships between Achilles and Patroclus and those from the Bible between Saul and Jonathan and Ruth and Naiomi are well-known in the West. In India the mutual devotion of Ajuna and Krishna as depicted in the Mahabharata has long been celebrated as the ideal friendship. Krishna said of Arjuna: “My wives, my kinsmen and my relatives, none amongst them is dearer to me than Arjuna. I shall not be able to cast my eyes, even for a single moment, on the earth bereft of Arjuna … Know that Arjuna is half my body.” Saying this to someone of the same gender might sound inappropriate to the modern Western ear but similarly expressed sentiments were common in our culture until the beginning of the 20th century.



Leave a Reply