As soon as he became the principal of Sanskrit College, Iswarchandra Vidyasagar made drastic changes in the college’s rules and regulations. Before him, the rules were lax. The teachers and even the students would come very late to the college or would arrive whenever they wished.
Vidyasagar earnestly desired that the teachers should come to the college in time. But he was unable to express his wishes to the teachers, being taught, once upon a time, by almost all of them. How could he ask his own teachers to be punctual? But he devised a way to solve this problem. Whenever a teacher arrived late, Vidyasagar would immediately accost him and humbly ask, “Have you come just now?”
No expression of anger, no issuing of orders, only a simple question and that did the trick! Within a few days, the teachers began to reach the college in time.
But there was one teacher — Jaynarayan Tarkapanchanan — who would not come early even after this. In fact he was a notorious late-comer who would arrive later than everyone else. But Vidyasagar could not tell him anything as Jaynarayan babu was once his teacher. Vidyasagar could not even ask this teacher of his that polite question: “Have you arrived just now?”
So Vidyasagar had to devise some other way to convince this particular teacher that punctuality is important. Vidyasagar would wait quietly near the entrance of the college expecting Jaynarayan’s arrival. Jaynarayan would come late, would pass by his principal who would remain standing quietly. This went on for a few days. Then, one day, Jaynarayan could no longer hide his irritation. He said to his erstwhile student, “Your quiet presence near the door is dangerous! If you had spoken, had said something to me, I would have an opportunity to explain my delayed arrival. But what do I do now? Okay, from tomorrow, whether I live or die, I’ll come in time.”
[Translated excerpts from Indramitra’s Karunasagar Vidyasagar]