IST stands for Indian Standard Time. Yet to the average Indian this acronym means Indian Stretchable Time. We have accepted this anomaly unabashedly and continue to procrastinate.
Yet, as all famous Indian contradictions go, the very same people are particular about executing auspicious things during the right Muhurath.
Rahu Kalam, Yama Gandam, Gulika, periods of eclipses, solstices among others are followed with alacrity to the last second. Hence it is easy to infer that we are not ignorant about the value and the fleeting nature of time. On the other hand, we are selective about the way we perceive it, based on the place and situation.
An Upakatha from Mahabharata illustrates this point well. After the Kurukshetra war, Yudhishtira, the eldest Pandava took charge of Hastinapura. He held court every single day and resolved the conflicts and petty cases of his subjects. One evening, the sovereign felt extremely tired because the proceedings went well beyond the twilight hours. He stifled a yawn and bid the petitioners to come the following day.
Bheemasena, the second Pandava brother quickly went out of the court and entered the royal kitchen. He instructed the head cook to hand over all the sweets prepared in the kitchen to him and placed an order for more sweets to be made. Bheema started distributing sweets to the public with immense joy.
Yudhishtira and the other Pandavas were bemused by his strange behaviour, so were the denizens. After a bout of prolific enthusiasm, Bheema stopped to explain the reason for his joy.
Apparently, he was very happy because his brother, the emperor was certain that he would be alive the following day. When everyone heard the reason for his explicit joy, they were struck by the infinite wisdom of his words.
Bheemasena had used a fun gesture to reiterate the truth that time and tide wait for none. It will be in the best interests of people to complete whatever they have set out to do because no one has
Eons later, Kabirdas also encapsulated this sentiment when he said: “kal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab” which when translated means, “Do what you plan to do tomorrow, today itself and what you have planned today should be done now itself.”
It is interesting to note that the word Kala in Sanskrit is a pun. It connotes both Time and Death. If man understands the importance of time and his own nature of mortality and uses it wisely he will excel in his designated role and in turn make difference to the world we live in.