The problem of procrastination is as old as humanity
Ravan, King of Lanka is one of the mightiest characters in Indian mythology. Ravan was an all powerful king who was feared even by the Gods. He derived his immense power from Lord Shiva whom he had pleased through his devotion and worship. Ravan had been given the elixir of life by Lord Shiva and it was said that he could not be killed till this nectar or elixir of life remained in Ravan’s stomach. That is why Lord Ram could finally kill Ravan only by shooting his divine arrow in Ravan’s navel.
This story however is not about the power of Ravan. It is about an all powerful life lesson on procrastination that Ravan learnt when his end was near. And this is the lesson he gave to his arch enemy just before he died.
After Lord Ram had vanquished Ravan and he lay mortally wounded in the battlefield, Lord Ram told his brother Laxman, “Dear brother, whatever Ravan may have been and irrespective of all misdeeds he might have committed in his life, he is undoubtedly still a great scholar who can teach us a few things. Therefore, go and meet Ravan and learn something useful from him.”
Laxman was loath to go to Ravan for anything, and least of all to learn something. However, he could not disobey his elder brother and so he went see where Ravan lay on the battlefield. Ravan saw Laxman and turned his head away without saying anything. An angry Laxman went back to Lord Ram and said, “Even though Ravan has lost and is about to die, he is unrepentant and full of himself. I went to meet him as you had instructed, but he turned his head away and did not speak to me.”
Lord Ram knew that his younger brother was no less arrogant and short tempered. He smiled and asked him, “brother, when you went to meet Ravan where were you standing.”
“I stood near his head”, replied Laxman.
Lord Ram smiled and said, “My dear Laxman, You went to meet Ravan to learn something from him. That means in this interaction, you are a student and he a teacher. So you must not stand near his head. Go and stand near his feet and salute him and give him the respect that is due to a teacher. I am sure he will have something valuable to teach you.”
Laxman did as he was told. He went and stood near Ravan’s feet and greeted him with folded hands, “O Lankeshwar, I am told that you are a great scholar. I’d be thankful if you could teach me something from your vast pool of wisdom.”
Ravan looked at Laxman and smiled. He said, “I was the all powerful king of Lanka. Even Lord Indra, the king of Gods was scared of me. No one could defeat me or say ‘No’ to me. I could do anything I wanted.
“All my life I had three desires that I wanted to fulfill.
“One, I wanted to make the sea water sweet.
“Two, I wanted to make a golden stairway to heaven so that one could climb to heaven when ever one wanted to. And
“Three, I wanted to conquer death.
“Such was my power that I could have done theses three thing any time I wanted to.
“And therefore, I always procrastinated. Everyday, I’d think that I’ll do these later. May be tomorrow. And look where it has got me. I am here lying fatally wounded in the battlefield and now however strongly I wish, I am unable to fulfill these three things. I wish I could somehow end this bad habit of procrastination.
“I’d like to only give you one advice. Never postpone something to tomorrow that you can do today. Procrastination is one of the biggest enemies of human beings.”
How true. Many centuries later Kabir said the same thing as follows about the ills of procrastination:
Kaal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab
Pal mein parlay hoygi, bahuri karega kab?
What you’ll do tomorrow, do it today.
What you’ll do today, do it now.
In a split second the world will end.
When will you do the rest.
We’d like to know your views on Procrastination. Do use the comment box below to tell us ways you’d recommend a person to end the killer habit of procrastination. What time management skills would you like to recommend.