Amalaki Ekadasi: The day dedicated to Indian Gooseberry!

Amla or Indian Gooseberry is widely known for its medicinal and cosmetic uses. Some of the primary properties and benefits of Amla are as follows:

• Rich in Vitamin C
• Acts as a body coolant
• Flushes out toxins
• Improves skin and hair health
• Slows down ageing
• Powerful antioxidant
• Strengthens eyes, lungs, heart, liver, digestive system and immune system
• Blood purifier
• Enhances brain functioning
• Increases concentration and memory

Due to its multifarious uses, Amla is extensively used in Ayurveda. Apart from its medicinal properties, Amla has great spiritual significance too. It may be surprising to note that one Ekadasi is entirely dedicated to the Amla tree!

When is it celebrated?

Amalaki Ekadasi, also known as Amalaka Ekadasi is celebrated in the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of the moon) in the Phalguna month. The glories of Amalaki Ekadasi are found in Brahmanda Purana in a conversation between King Mandhata and Vasishtha Muni.

Glories of Amalaki Ekadasi:

King Chitraratha, the ruler of Vaidisha was very learned, noble and spiritual. He along with all the citizens of the kingdom sincerely observed all the Ekadasi vrat. Once on the auspicious day of Amalaki Ekadasi, King Chitraratha and all the citizens diligently observed the vrat by taking a bath in the river and by worshipping Lord Vishnu in the temple near the bank of the river. The king also offered water, clothes, shoes, canopy, umbrella and five kinds of jewels to Lord Parashurama and worshipped him.

A hunter who made his living by killing animals happened to witness this wonderful observance of Amalaki Ekadasi vrat. He was wonder-struck looking at the celebration and spent the entire night listening to the glorification of Lord Vishnu. Next morning, King Chitraratha and his citizens completed the observance of Amalaki Ekadasi vrat and returned to Vaidisha. The hunter too left the place and resumed his normal routine.

After several years, the hunter died and due to the merit he gained by fasting on Amalaki Ekadasi, by listening to the glorification of Lord Vishnu and by staying awake the entire night, he was reborn as a great king, Vasuratha, the son of King Viduratha, ruler of the kingdom of Jayanti.

King Vasuratha was very powerful, generous and pious. One day he lost his way while hunting in the jungle. He was fatigued in the process of finding a way out of the jungle. He thus fell asleep beneath a tree. Taking advantage of the situation, a few tribal men attacked him with weapons to no avail. The weapons could not hurt the king even in the slightest. Suddenly, a beautiful woman appeared from the king's body and slew them.

King Vasuratha woke up after a while and was astonished to see his enemies dead. He then heard a heavenly voice announce that it was Lord Keshava (Lord Vishnu) who saved him from the attack of his enemies. King Vasuratha was overjoyed and returned to his kingdom. Thereafter, he continued to rule his kingdom like Lord Indra.

Appropriate way to observe Amalaki Ekadasi vrat and its significance:

• Follow the general rules of the Ekadasi vrat. Please refer to our article, “Ekadasi: What to do and what not to do” for more details.
• Worship Amla tree with incense, fruits and flowers.
• Faithfully worship Lord Parashurama (Lord Vishnu).
• It is believed that Lord Vishnu, goddess Lakshmi, Lord Shiva and Lord Brahma reside in the Amla tree. One obtains great religious merit by touching the tree and by eating the fruit. Therefore, prepare Ekadasi dishes with Amla, offer to Lord Vishnu, distribute the prasad and eat the prasad. We already know the health benefits of Amla!
• Observing Amalaki Ekadasi vrat is more purifying than donating one thousand cows to a pious brahmana.
• The faithful observer is bestowed with immense wealth and is freed from the effects of past sins.
• Ultimately, the observer is blessed with liberation and residence in Lord Vishnu's abode.

This year, Amalaki Ekadasi falls on 12th of March. Please break your fast between 06:33AM and 10:31AM on 13 March 2014. wishes all the devotees a very happy Amalaki Ekadasi. May Lord Keshava bless you with good health, prosperity and success!

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