Questioner: Namaskaram, Sadhguru. My question is about nellikai (amla or Indian gooseberry). Why do we have it on Ekadashi in the ashram? Is this just for health reasons or is there something else to it?

Sadhguru: If you go to someone’s house for lunch or dinner, and they serve you something sour like lemonade or lemon juice before the meal, it means they are trying to kill your appetite. Drinking lemonade reduces your appetite. We are a 10,000-year-old culture – people are crafty! Certain especially crafty communities will serve a sweet first, which also reduces your appetite by half. They had to evolve strategies because treating a guest is not a choice in India – it is a must. But you can use your intelligence, for your own economic reasons and for your guests’ health. Because if something is free, people will have a little more. Some kill themselves by having too much!

Ekadashi means fasting. When you are fasting, just put a nellikai in your mouth and keep chewing it to ward off hunger. Otherwise, when you fast, your digestive juices will play and after some time, they will build up. And if they spill over, you will puke. If you put puli into the system – puli means sourness – it will settle. There is nothing better than a nellikai for that purpose. This comes from a certain understanding of the human system. Just one nellikai in your mouth will keep you going for three to four hours without feeling hungry, because it will keep the digestive juices down. Even with morning sickness, nellikai helps.

Editor’s Note: Keep track of important days and the phases of the moon with Isha’s Lunar Calendar.

This article is based on an excerpt from the September 2014 issue of Forest Flower. Pay what you want and download. (set ‘0’ for free). Print subscriptions are also available.