We celebrated Nirjala Ekadashi, otherwise known as Bhima Ekadashi, two days ago. Why am I writing about a past event? Because there is an interesting principle behind it. Nirjala Ekadashi is supposed to be the most difficult Ekadashi fast. It is a 24-hour fast where you don't even drink water. That's why it's called Nirjala, without water.
Traditionally, Hindus fasted — and fast — on Ekadashi day. The Pandavas also would keep a fast but Bhima always found it difficult to fast despite being a great warrior. He went to Rishi Veda Vyaasa and asked him what could be done. Veda Vyaasa gave him a simple solution. He said that while most people keep a one day fast on every Ekadashi, it is mild but spread out over the whole year. Since that seems difficult for you, you who hold the name Bhima, the one that is great, your karma too should be on a grand scale. So, on this Ekadashi day, keep a complete fast. Do not touch food or water. Since this idea appealed to Bhima, every year from that day onwards he would fast very intensively on this Nirjala Ekadashi also known as Bhima Ekadashi.
What is the point behind it? A principle that can be used in very many areas of life – an extensive or intensive approach. As a trader in the market, one can extensively invest in 20 different shares, spreading your risk and getting small profits out of it. Or as an entrepreneur you can be very intense about your idea, and make it work. With respect to exercise, one can have an extensive moderate workout, one hour four days a week or do an intense high intensity workout for half an hour, four days a week. One will get the same benefit, if not more.
In the study of philosophy as an academician, it is extensive. As a sadhu, the study is very intensive. The question that comes up is: Can one be both extensive and intensive in a given subject matter? One can, provided one has a huge amount of time and dedication.
The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at email@example.com.