“I expect to pass this way but once; any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again”. That was Stephen Grellet.
The resonance of these words has reverberated all through history. Here is a story from the Mahabharat. When the Great War had been won, Yudhistir became the King of the land.
He used to hold court daily and listen to the common people, dispensing justice and providing any help they wanted. One day Yudhistir was busy doing some work. An old man came and asked for some pieces of gold. Yudhistir asked him to come the next day. The man went back a little dejected.
When Yudhistir’s day’s work had been done, Bhima congratulated him. "For what? I have done nothing of note", said Yudhistir. "Maharaj you have conquered Time, the arch enemy of all mortals, today." Yudhistir was baffled. He asked Bhima to explain what he meant.
Bhima replied, "You have defied Kala today. When you asked that seeker of gold to come tomorrow, you ensured at least three things. First, that you will be alive tomorrow. Second, the seeker will also live till tomorrow. Third, that the empire and the treasury will last till tomorrow. Isn't it mastering Time and Death.? Maharaj, you have been through the great war and seen how things changed in a moment and how Time has mastered everything in this world. Even unconquerable Bhisma and Drona had fallen and so many others of mighty strength and fame. They were gone in a split second. No one knew what would happen the next moment."
Yudhistir was shell-shocked but he thanked his brother and called for the man who had asked for the gold. It was immediately given and with profuse apology.
Yudhistir never delayed doing a good deed thereafter.