In all our life, in every activity, we look for companionship. It can be parents for a baby, a friend for a child, a very intimate person for a youth, spouse when married, children when in parenthood, grand-children in old-age. In professional life, it could be one’s fellow-students, employees etc. From time-to-time, we substitute a human companionship by getting engrossed in animals like dog, cat, horse etc. or in inanimate objects like computer, phone, television, etc. Of course, we all choose the company that suits our tastes.
This striving for companionship to suit our temperament is seen in great saints too. There are many notable examples, such as when Sri Ramakrishna prayed for Keshab Chandra Sen’s recovery. Sri Ramakrishna said: “‘Mother, please make Keshab well again. If Keshab doesn’t live, whom shall I talk with when I go to Calcutta?”  His fervent cry to the Mother asking him to send disciples: “In those days there was no limit to my yearning. During the day time, I could keep it under control though the talk of worldly people tormented me. I would yearn for the time when my beloved companions would come to me. I kept thinking what a relief it would be to talk freely and openly to them about my experiences. When the evening worship started, ….I would … cry at the top of my voice in the anguish of my heart: ‘Come to me, my boys! Where are you all? I cannot bear to live without you!'”. Other instances suggest this too, like Shams-e Tabrizi’s craving for a worthy companion that led him to Jalāl ad-Dīn Rūmī and later Rumi’s bereavement of Shams’ death through his poems Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi.
It always makes me wonder: Why there is this drag of need for companionship? It is so ingrained that we even fail to recognize it. When two friends watch a humorous scene in a movie, they look at each other and then laugh. It is a surprise to see the need to resonate this humor with another person. The same holds for music concert, sports event or a beautiful scenery etc. With any information that is exciting for one, a need to share it with other is felt – the growing traffic in social forums is a testimony to this. Ironically this blog also fits in as a solution to this need. In any such company, all that the mind is looking for is some reactive impulse from the world for the thoughts and words that are generated within it. Is it possible to create these reactive impulses within one’s own mind, thereby obviating the need for any external company? It may sound as though I’m advocating for Multiple Personality Disorder which is characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities that alternately control a person’s behavior. But that is not the case.
The saints overcame this affliction of need for company by absorbing themselves in God. Until that state of mind is reached, the need for company does not vanish. Switching back to the examples given above: Sri Ramakrishna, later on in his life, had the company of Divine Mother with whom he could talk to whenever he wanted to. This mental state of his is very different from a personality disorder (or any human relationship for that matter) as this companionship with Mother is always blissful. Rumi also, later in his life, composed this poem after Shams’ death:
“Why should I seek? I am the same as He. His essence speaks through me. I have been looking for myself!”
There are of course saints who denied all worldly and human connections forcibly like Sri Ramana Maharshi. But for almost all spiritual aspirants, the need for companionship is felt always until the goal of Self/God realization is reached. Hence the advice given to us is to keep holy company so that the thoughts dwell on God rather than on any worldly object. When the bliss from within dawns upon us, the need for a companion is permanently gone.
 The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by M. Translation by Swami Nikhilananda
 Ramakrishna and His Disciples by Christopher Isherwood
 The Essential Rumi. Translations by Coleman Barks