The effects of evil company are highly disastrous. The aspirant should shun all sorts of evil company. The mind is filled with bad ideas by contact with evil companions. The little faith in God and scriptures also vanishes. A man is known by the company he keeps. Birds of the same feather flock together. These are all proverbs or wise maxims. They are quite true. Just as a nursery is to be well-fenced in the beginning for protection against cows, etc., so also, a neophyte should protect himself very carefully from foreign evil influences. Otherwise he is ruined totally. The company of those who speak lies, who commit adultery, theft, cheating, double-dealing, who indulge in idle talks, backbiting and talebearing, who have no faith in God and in the scriptures, should be strictly avoided. The company of women and of those who associate with women is dangerous. Vilwamangal attended once the nautch party of Chintamani. His whole Antahkarana was poisoned. He was the virtuous son of a pious Brahmin. All his good traits disappeared. He fell in love with her. He ruined his life. There are thousand and one instances like this. In Andhra Pradesh, Vemanna also was spoiled by evil company in the beginning. There is nothing more dangerous than evil company. If the wife has no religious tendencies and is of a worldly nature, her company also is tantamount to evil company. That is the reason why scriptures speak very highly of solitary places in the Himalayas and on the banks of the Ganga.
What Constitutes Evil Company
Bad surroundings, obscene pictures, obscene songs, novels that deal with love, cinemas, theatres, the sight of pairing of animals, words which give rise to bad ideas in the mind—in short, anything that causes evil thoughts in the mind constitutes evil company. Whatever induces in us evil tendencies, impure ideas, and likewise, is to be considered as Kusanga. Kusanga is an antonym of Satsanga. It means ‘the company of the evil.’
Place, food, water, family, neighbourhood, sight, literature, criticism, livelihood, and the mode of meditation or worship are the ten most important factors which according to their nature either serve for us as Satsanga or Kusanga.
Aspirants generally complain: “We are doing Sadhana for the last fifteen years. We have not made any solid spiritual progress.” The obvious answer is that they have not totally shunned evil company. Newspapers deal with all sorts of worldly topics. Aspirants should entirely give up reading of newspapers. Reading of newspapers kindles worldly Samskaras, causes sensational excitement in the mind, makes the mind outgoing, produces an impression that the world is a solid reality, and makes one forget the Truth that underlies these names and forms.
The So-called Friends
If you put an ounce of alum in ten maunds of milk, the whole quantity of milk becomes unfit for drinking. Even so, evil company, even for a few minutes, will nullify the good effects created by Satsanga for ten years. Evil company is an enemy of devotion. Give up evil company. Take recourse to Satsanga or company of the saints.
The so-called friends are real enemies. You cannot find even a single unselfish friend in this universe. Be careful. Friends come to have idle talks with you and they waste your time. They want to pull you down and make you also worldly. Do not be carried away by the flowery speech of such friends. Cut off connection ruthlessly. Live alone at all times. Trust in that Immortal Friend who dwells in your heart. He will give you whatever you want. If you cannot have positive Satsanga of Mahatmas, have negative Satsanga with books written by realised sages, saints and Bhagavatas.
pgs. 33-35, Satsanga and Svadhyaya