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As I discuss in this question, by far the most popular school of Hindu philosophy is the Vedanta school. But there are five other Astika or orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy: Purva Mimamsa, Samkhya, Yoga, Vaisheshika, and Nyaya. My question is about the Yoga school, which had a similar worldview to the Samkhya school except it embraced the existence of a supreme being. The defining text of the Yoga school is Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

In Adhyaya 4 Sutra 1 of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali discusses the various ways you can obtain Siddhis or magical powers:

janma-oṣadhi-mantra-tapas-samādhi-jāḥ siddhayaḥ

Supernatural powers (siddhis) arise from birth, drugs, mantras, austerity, or yoga (samadhi)

In my question here, I asked what drugs or herbs give Siddhis, and I found an answer, namely the Soma plant and the Amalaka plant, as described in this excerpt from Adi Shankaracharya's commentary on the Yoga Sutras:

oṣadhibhir asurabhavaneṣu rasāyanena somāmala-kādibhakṣaṇena pūrvadehānapanayenaiva

"From drugs - such as the elixir of the demon realms": here the original body is not discarded, but by taking drugs such as Soma or the Amalaka plant (some perfection [Siddhi] is attained)

Now the Soma plant is notoriously hard to identify, although scholars today think it's most likely the Ephedra plant. But the identity of Amalaka is well-known; it's the Indian gooseberry. So my question is, what Siddhis does the Amalaka plant give?

Here are the traditional Siddhis described in the Yoga Sutras:

Aṇimā: reducing one's body even to the size of an atom
Mahima: expanding one's body to an infinitely large size
Garima: becoming infinitely heavy
Laghima: becoming almost weightless
Prāpti: having unrestricted access to all places
Prākāmya: realizing whatever one desires
Iṣṭva: possessing absolute lordship
Vaśtva: the power to subjugate all

So which of these Siddhis does the Amalaka plant give? Page 32 of this book describes an Ayurvedic medicine made from Amalaka whose effect is "to transform old men into young, with new hair and teeth, and induce physical power like that of an elephant." It's possible that that's related to a Siddhi.

But what does Hindu scripture have to say on the subject? And does Hindu scripture discuss how to use the Amalaka plant to obtain Siddhis?

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This source states it possibly reduces blood glucose levels and triglycerides, essentially making one more healthy.

https://examine.com/supplements/emblica-officinalis/

it could lower blood glucose in both healthy persons and diabetics with a potency similar to the reference drug glibenclamide. In animal research, amla appears to be able to reduce triglycerides and better the cholesterol profile as well as benefit cardiovascular health (the heart and vessels themselves)

It also backs up the claim from your book about hair and youth and vitality.

a hair growth promoting effect that exceeds that of minoxidil, and a longevity promoting effect in fruit flies that (while not directly compared against other agents) appears to be more effective than other nutraceutical options

The Hindu texts referenced are

Among some ayurvedic texts (Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita), this herb is referred to as the "best among the sour fruits" or "the best among rejuvenative herbs".[4]

The best way to use the plant seems to be to eat the fruits.

I don't see how this correlates with any of the 8 gifts you listed.

  • I'm interested in what Hindu scripture says about the Siddhis obtained from the Amalaka plant, not what scientific research says. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 13 '17 at 17:51
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    If you were really interested, you would see the reference to ayurvedic text and follow the reference #4 to the actual text. – Chloe Apr 13 '17 at 23:17
  • Well, at least based on the quote you gave those Ayurvedic texts don't seem to discuss Siddhis derived from the Amalaka plant. But if you can find references in those texts to Siddhis, I'd be interested in seeing them. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 14 '17 at 1:01

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