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True Friendship

A prince and the minister's son were out hunting in the forests. Both were hungry and exhausted after a long day's wandering. They found the cool shade of a tree and sat down to rest. Soon, the prince fell asleep, while the minister's son stayed awake and kept guard.

A while later a snake slithered towards the prince. Hissing furiously, it prepared to bite him. However, the minister's son was quick. He raised his sword. But before he could kill it, the snake spoke up, ''This prince was my enemy in my past life. I cannot rest until I drink blood from his neck.''

The minister's son wanted to save his friend's life and he was also intelligent. "Then, what if I give you some of his blood to drink. Will that quench your hate?'' Saying this, he knew he was saving the life of the prince because if the snake bit him, to draw blood, it would at the same time spit poison that was sure to kill his friend. The snake agreed. He was only after the prince's blood, not his life.

The minister's son made a cup out of dry leaves. He climbed upon the chest of the prince who was still fast asleep. He pulled out his dagger and made a small slit on the side of his neck. The sharp cut suddenly shocked the prince awake. But on seeing that his friend, the minister's son, was holding the dagger, he closed his eyes again. The minister's son filled the cup with enough blood and offered it to the snake, which drank the blood and went its way. Meanwhile, he collected some medicinal herbs and bandaged the wound. A few hours later, the prince awoke and made preparations to proceed further. He said nothing and walked happily as if nothing had happened. Two whole days passed in the forests, yet the prince never reminded him of the event.

It was the minister's son who began to grow impatient, as to why he was not questioned.
He finally said, ''Friend and master, you know that I climbed upon you and slit your throat, drew blood and then bandaged you. You even saw me do it. Still why haven't you yet questioned me or
asked me for an explanation?''

''You are a friend of mine,'' the prince answered. ''I believe that whatever you may have done must have been for my good. This is why I desire no explanation.'' He continued, ''If someone else had attempted this, I would have been suspicious. Does he want to kill me or rob me? But with you, I know you're a very close friend and I have boundless trust in you - that my friend shall never ever do any harm to me.
'' This is the mark of true friendship. A friend is he who is harsh to you if it brings greater good. And in return, he who does not sulk or feel hurt by the actions of his friend is a true friend. One should cultivate such intimate friendship with the True Sadhu.

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© 1999, Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Swaminarayan Aksharpith