The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'These two, viz., one that provides for the future, and one possessed of presence of mind, always enjoy happiness. The man of procrastination, however, is lost. In this connection, listen attentively to the following excellent story of a procrastinating person in the matter of settling his course of action. In a lake that was not very deep and which abounded with fishes, there lived three Sakula fishes that were friends and constant companions. Amongst those three one had much forethought and always liked to provide for what was coming. Another was possessed of great presence of mind. The third was procrastinating. One day certain fishermen coming to that lake began to bale out its waters to a lower ground through diverse outlets. Beholding the water of the lake gradually decreasing, the fish that had much foresight, addressing his two companions on that occasion of danger, said, 'A great danger is about to overtake all the aquatic creatures living in this lake. Let us speedily go to some other place before our path becomes obstructed. He that resists future evil by the aid of good policy, never incurs serious danger. Let my counsels prevail with you. Let us all leave this place' That one amongst the three who was procrastinating then answered, 'It is well said. There is, however, no need of such haste. This is my deliberate opinion.' Then the other fish, who was noted for presence of mind, addressed his procrastinating companion and said, 'When the time for anything comes, I never fail to provide for it according to policy.' Hearing the answers of his two companions, he of great forethought and considerable intelligence immediately set out by a current and reached another deep lake. The fishermen, Seeing that all the water had been baled out, shut in the fishes that remained, by diverse means. Then they began to agitate the little water that remained, and as they began to catch the fish, the procrastinating Sakula was caught with many others. When the fisherman began to tie to a long string the fishes they
had caught, the Sakula who was noted for presence of mind thrust himself into the company of those that had been so tied and remained quietly among them, biting the string, for he thought that he should do it to give the appearance of being caught. The fishermen believed that all the fishes attached to the string had been caught. They then removed them to a piece of deep water for washing them. Just at that time the Sakula noted for presence of mind, leaving the string, quickly escaped. That fish, however, who had been procrastinating, foolish and senseless and without intelligence as he was, and, therefore, unable to escape, met with death.
"'Thus every one meets with destruction, like the procrastinating fish, who from want of intelligence cannot divine the hour of danger. That man, again, who regarding himself clever does not seek his own good in proper time, incurs great danger like the Sakula who had presence of mind. Hence these two only, viz., he that has much forethought and he that has presence of mind, succeed in obtaining happiness. He, however, that is procrastinating meets with destruction. Diverse are the divisions of time, such as Kashtha, Kala, Muhurta, day, night, Lava, month, fortnight, the six seasons, Kalpa, year. The divisions of the earth are called place. Time cannot be seen. As regards the success of any object or purpose, it is achieved or not achieved according to the manner in which the mind is set to think of it. These two, viz., the person of forethought and the person of presence of mind, have been declared by the Rishis to be the foremost of men in all treatises on morality and profit and in those dealing with emancipation. One, however, that does everything after reflection and scrutiny, one that avails oneself of proper means for the accomplishment of one's objects, always succeeds in achieving much. Those again that act with due regard to time and place succeed in winning results better than the mere man of foresight and the man of presence of mind.'"
Next: Section CXXXVIII