How Does Keeping A Good Company Benefit A Person?

good companyThey say “keeping a good company” is extremely important for a person. All my life, I have heard the advice – “you are known by the company you keep.” It is a standard advice given by parents to their children that they should always keep good company and make “good” friends. Good being defined as intelligent, studious, courteous, polite, knowledgeable etc.

And I had always wondered why it is important to have good friends. As if in answer to this question, about 35 year ago I came across a story in Chandamama –a children’s magazine, which went something like this…

Sage Narad Too Wanted To Know The Benefits Of Good Company

Once upon a time, long ago, Sage Narad went to meet Lord Vishnu to understand the importance of good company. “O Lord, everyone says that you should always make good friends and be in the company of good people. Please tell me what are the benefits of a good company?

Lord Vishnu smiled and said, “O learned one, if you would like to know the answer to this excellent question of yours, please go down to the earth. Go to the dandak forest. There you will find a banyan tree in the centre of this forest. Under that banyan tree, you’ll find a newborn cockroach. Go and ask the baby cockroach this question. I am sure you will be able to get an answer.”

Sage Narad though a little surprised, did what he was advised. He went to the dandak forest, and found the baby cockroach under the banyan tree. On finding the new-born cockroach, he asked the insect, “O cockroach, I am Narad. I would like to know what the benefit of good company is. How does it help a person to have good friends and live in the company of good people?” The baby cockroach opened its eyes, looked at Narad and died!

benefits of good companySage Narad was totally taken aback by this sudden turn of events and rushed back to Vaikunth Dham (Lord Vishnu’s abode) and narrated the sequence of events to Lord Vishnu. “O great Lord, I did as you asked me to do, but I have not got an answer to my query. The baby cockroach instead of answering my question actually died and did not reply to me. So I am still perplexed and would like to know what is so great about good company. At least give me an answer now.”

Lord Vishnu smiled and said, “Narad I would suggest that you go back to earth. Find your way to house of a Brahmin called Devdutt in the Vijaynagar Kingdom. In his house a cow has just given birth to a calf. Go and ask your question to this new-born calf. I am certain that you will get your answer.”

Narad could not disobey Lord Vishnu and therefore did as he was told. He went to Vijaynagar and found Brahmin Devdutt’s house. He was heartily welcomed by the humble Brahmin and shown the calf. Sage Narad asked the calf, “O holy calf, can you please tell me what the benefits of good company are. Everyone says that you must always have good friends and keep the company of good people. Why?”

The baby calf opened his eyes, looked at Sage Narad, smiled and died!!

Narad was petrified. He was certain that he will be held guilty of the highest sin – killing of a cow. He ran back to see Lord Vishnu as fast as he could. Reaching Lord Vishnu’s home, Narad complained, “O lord, you have put me in such trouble. I asked the baby calf to tell me the benefits of good company and instead of answering me, it died. Now I will be called a cow murderer. Please save me.”

Lord Vishnu was his usual self – smiling and calm. He said, “O great sage, just relax. No one is going to blame you for the death of the calf. I also see that you have still not received the answer to your question regarding the benefits of good company. I would suggest that you go back to Vijaynagar. Only, this time you should go and meet the king in his palace. The king has been blessed with a baby boy. Go and meet the new-born prince with your question and I am certain that this time you will get your answer.”

Narad was not inclined to do Lord Vishnu’s bidding but he was eager to get answer to his question and therefore grudgingly he went back to Vijaynagar and met the king in his palace. When the king came to know that the great sage Narad wanted to see the baby prince, he was delighted. Narad was taken to the new-born prince. Narad blessed the prince and asked him, “O prince, I have been trying to understand the benefits of good company. So can you please tell me how does one benefit if you have good friends and keep the company of good people.”

The new-born prince opened his eyes, looked up at Sage Narad, smiled and replied:

”O most learned of Sages, good company and friendship of good people is one of the greatest boons that you can have. Some days back, I had the great fortune of being in your company for a few moments when you met me in the dandak forest under the banyan tree. I was then a new-born cockroach. The benefit of those few seconds of good company of yours was so great that in my next birth I was born as a calf at Brahmin Devdutt’s house. Again I had the great fortune of being in your company for a few moments only, when you came to see me and now you can see that the benefit of those few second’s company of yours has given me the privilege to be born in this birth as a prince and the future king of the mighty Vijaynagar kingdom. Surely you will agree with me that being in the company of good people is a great boon.”

reading and comprenshion skills

You Are Known By The Company You Keep

Sage Narad was satisfied and he went back to Lord Vishnu to thank him for having provided him an invaluable insight into the everyday saying – you are known by the company you keep.

Lord Vishnu said, “Narad, good company and friendship of good people is what everyone must strive for. When you keep glass beads amongst gold, people take them to be diamonds. No wonder you are the company you keep – that is how powerful a good company is.

I would like to know what do you think about the old wisdom of keeping good company. Please let me have your views on the comments panel below. Also if you liked the story, do share it with friends, family both in the real and the virtual world!


  1. Nice one and for thought…I really wish such folklore comes to the forefront for this generation and coming one’s too…

    • Thanks Rachna, I am glad that you liked the story. This is also one of my favorite stories.

  2. Dear Sir
    Great story. Lot of message & moral in the story. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Vedantam for your message and encouragement. I agree with you that the story has a great moral and message – no wonder I remember it even after 35 years! In fact that is what is so good about the folklores, stories and fables – they are simple and yet convey powerful messages.

  3. Dear Sir,
    A nice story with a great message.
    Thank you

    • Dear Indhu, I am glad that you liked the story. I hope to have you revisit the blog.

  4. Sanjeev,

    I was actually pretty disappointed by the story! To be honest, if such a story is told to a child (9years or younger) I am sure he/she will not understand this at all.

    The same applies to me as well! I mean, this folklore actually makes it much more complex that it should really be.

    The end message “When you keep glass beads amongst gold, people take them to be diamonds.” is clear, but the way it is explained (reincarnation, hierarchy of the various life forms etc) is really complex and not relevant to teach the moral!

    My 2 cents since you asked for it 🙂

    Happy to discuss further with you!

    – Anand S

    • Hi Anand, It is quite possible that what you are saying is true. Maybe a child of 9 or less may not understand it. I myself read this story when I was around 10 or 11 and it left an impression on me.

      I’ll try and do better the next time! I hope to see you around again.

  5. sanjeev ji,
    very nice story ,in this digital era you are providing moral and hitipadesh story for children it’s great i will surely tell these story o my kids.

    • Dear Gopal, thanks a lot for the encouraging words. I am glad that you liked the story.

  6. Cool it was really nice .
    Glass beads with gold are taken as diamonds was Cherry on top .

    Very good like it .

    • Hi Sudhir, I am glad that you liked the story. Glass beads with gold are taken to be diamonds is part of a Sanskrit verse which my father had taught me. I thought it went very well with the story and hence added it here – as “cherry on top!”

  7. Dear Sanjeev,

    Good thoughts for a new day.

    Enriching story mate.


    • Dear Rajiev, thanks for the kind words. I am glad that you liked the story.

  8. Dear Sanjeev,

    its really nice story. it really teaches one.



    • HI Karan, I am glad that you liked it. Thanks for the encouragement.

  9. My parents never really instilled in me that I needed to hang around with certain people but I did learn at an early age the type of people I wanted to have in my life. I have actually ended 3 friendships because of their negativity and their desire to continue to drag me down to their level.

    My nephew is 22 and he took a job on a cruise ship last year. He was gone for 6 months and upon his return I had lunch with him. He told me that he had never met so many positive people in his life. He actually for the first time was not interested in visiting some of his old friends once he got home. He now has a different outlook on life due to having been around those people. I’m thankful that at his age, he’s learned this valuable lesson.

    Enjoyed the post even though I’ve never heard that children’s story. Thanks for sharing.


    • I am glad Adrienne that you liked the story.

      Even though your parents may not have told you what kind of people you should hang around with, you instinctively knew the benefits of good company and having positive people as friends. And so is the case with your nephew.

      Company of good people always acts as a positive catalyst in life.

  10. Thanks for sharing a wonderful story which took us back to our childhood days of story telling by parents/grand parents.
    Most of us will have experienced the company and its influence on us…tx once again.
    Keep us posted with your interesting blogs 🙂

    • Hi Srikant, thanks for your encouragement. I am glad that you liked the story.

      And yes many of the stories that we have grown up with have been told to us by our parents / grandparents. Today, many of those stories I tell my children and when they were younger they used be so amazed, “daddy, how do you know so many stories? We never see you read such story books!”

      I hope that you will keep visiting here and share your ideas with us.

  11. Good Story, Sanjeev. Will share with my family and other contacts. Keep them coming.

    • Thanks Ravi, I am glad that you liked the story. I have many more such lovely stories and will definitely keep them coming.

      I hope to meet you often here.

  12. A real nice story. Sets you thinking. Thanks very much for bringing back the memories of Chandamama.


    • Thanks Nageshwa. I am glad you liked the story. Will add more from my memory.

  13. Sir ,story is very nice, but one thing is not clear to me.
    you said “when you keep glass beads amongst gold ,people take them to be diamond”
    Sir people take glass beads to be diamond, but glass beads will not become diamond

    • Hi Rashmi, I am glad that you like the story.

      Even though glass does not become diamond in the company of gold, people do think of them as diamonds. That is why it is said that you are known by the company you keep. If I live with good people, everyone will think that I must be good. And if I have the company of the criminals, people will take me to be a criminal.

      The difference between us humans and inanimate objects like glass is that we CAN change and become good or bad depending on the company we have. Remember the dacoit Angulimal who became a monk in the company of Buddha? Or Valmiki who again from being a dacoit became one of the most celebrated authors in Indian culture by writing the Ramayan.

      And that is why in most classes in schools, the teacher makes the boisterous children sit with the quiet and studious ones – in the hope that they will also become studious! Of course only time tells who is able to change whom!

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