Ekadashi is observed on the 11Th day of the Full Moon day and No Moon day and fasting on the day takes one to Vaikundam.
March 8th happens to be Ekadashi falling in the waxing period of Moon and it is known as Amalaki Ekadashi.As the name denotes, this Ekadashi is marked by offerings to the tree of gooseberry (Amalaki). Amalaki tree’s scientific name is Phyllanthus emblica. People offer their worship to Lord Parashurama on this day.
It is also known as Aanwala, Rang Bari Ekadashi and Kunj Ekadashi signifying the commencement of the celebrations of the Holy festival. This is also referred as Papmochani Ekadashi since it clears one’s sins and gets him moksha through Ekadashi fasting on the day. This Ekadashi is called Thirunavaya Ekadashi in Kerala and Pankoddhar Ekadashi in Orissa.
Maharishi Vashishta has narrated the greatness of Amalaki Ekadashi in Brahmanda Purana. Maharishi Vasishtha narrated the greatness of Amalaki Ekadashi to King Mandhata through the following story.
Amalaki Ekadashi Story
There was a kingdom called Vaidisha which was ruled by King Chaithraratha. The king was an epitome of royalty and power and his kingdom was noted for prosperity, dharma and vedic observances. Everybody followed his particular dharma and there was no sinner in his regime.
On the Amalaki Ekadashi in the month of Phalguni, the king went with his followers to the Vishnu temple and that particular Ekadashi had the convergence of Dwavdashi and was considered very auspicious. After doing poojas and paying offerings to the Amalaki tree and praying to Lord Parashurama, the king spent the night on praying to Lord Vishnu through devotional singing and listening to Vishnu kathas.
There was a hunter in the kingdom and he chanced upon the prayers and Ekadashi observance of the king and others. In his amazement, he hid himself nearby and was watching the happenings. Though he was not aware of the greatness of Amalaki Ekadashi, he was watching everything out of curiosity. He did not eat anything that day and was keeping vigil overnight. The next morning, he went away and in the next birth, he was born as a king.
The hunter was the king Vasuratha, the son of Viduratha and was noted for his strength and fearless nature. He possessed every good quality possible on earth and was extremely charitable in nature.
One day, the king while hunting in the forest lost his way and started sleeping under a tree out of fatigue. He was seen by some tribal men. Recognising him as their enemy, they were torturing him with spear and sword. To their surprise, their weapons did not harm them and a fierce woman with chakra arose out of the sleeping king and slew all the tribesmen.
When he awoke, the king saw the dead tribal men around him and recognised them as his enemies. He was wondering who could have saved him. At that time, he heard a voice from the sky stating that who could help him in distress but for that Keshava, Lord of benevolence. The astonished king was overwhelmed by the benevolence of Vishnu and was praying ardently to him.
Do you know, why the hunter was given such a reward of being a king in his next birth? It is because he listened to the Vishnu katha and songs on Amalaki Ekadashi night though he was not aware of its significance. Out of hunger he fasted and kept vigil throughout the night out of curiosity. So, he was given the royal birth and was granted everything good on earth by Lord Vishnu. You can read Amalaki Ekadashi vrat katha in Tamil here.
Not only this, Vasishta also said that observing Amalaki Ekadashi vrata is more purifying than donating one thousand cows to a Brahman. This Ekadashi fasting relieves one of sins, brings enormous wealth and eternal bliss not only in this birth but in every successive birth.
Perform amla tree puja on this day. If Amalaki tree is not available, we can pray to Tulsi plant.
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