Gold can never be tainted by forces of the outer environment. It has the quality of the pure state which is achievable through tapas, following several purification rituals to reach this level. On Akshaya Tritiya, many people purchase gold. However, this is the day for antah or inner purification, to become Hirnya or of gold ourselves.
By Mala Kapadia, Professor, Director of Centre for Wellbeing & Resident Mentor
The third day of the Lunar month of Vaishakh Shukla paksha is considered a very auspicious day and has many stories connected to it. This year, it falls on 14th May 2021. The word Akshaya has its origin in Sanskrit and its closest English translation is – something that does not decay, or which never diminishes. A is ‘not’ and Kshay is ‘to decay or diminish’.
We know that the entire Universe is in flux and there is constant decay and renewal of everything, like a churn. However, some days have Energy that stops the process of decay. Hence, these days are known to be auspicious for projects to begin, for conducting spiritual practices, and for body-manas detoxes. The significance of Akshay Tritiya is connected with many stories from our civilisation – The river Ganga, one of our holiest rivers, descended from the heavens into the mortal realms on this day. Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Shree Vishnu, was also born on this very day. Sudama visited Shree Krishna, his childhood friend on this day when his lack of material abundance was reversed by Krishna. Also on this day, Rishi Veda Vyas had started writing the Mahabharata. The construction of the chariot of Shree Jagannath in Puri begins on this day too, when Lord Jagannath celebrates Chandanotsava.
Three more associations are significant and they are closer to my heart than the others. This is the day when Draupadi received Akshay Patra from Shree Krishna. The Panadavas along with mother Kunti and wife Draupadi were in vanavas when they received the news that Rishi Durvasa was going to visit them. Durvasa is known for his anger, and hence everyone was anxious as to how to welcome him with their meagre resources. This is when Krishna gifted the Akshaya Patra to Draupadi, giving her a boon that whatever she may cook in this vessel will never be exhausted as long as she wouldn’t consume food. So she had to feed everyone first and then eat herself. Now, the waves of feminist thoughts from the West will see this as gender injustice and therefore question the age-old tradition. However, when we go into deeper analysis, we see – it’s always women who are expected to dutifully hold a family together and are held responsible for providing care and nourishment to each of the family members. The ecological dharma taught us to fulfil the needs of others before one’s own, and hence, the blessing of Akshaya Patra was given to Draupadi and not to her husbands. This is an exemplary case of invoking an abundance mindset, as opposed to arousing the sense of victimhood.
According to the Puranas, Akshaya Tritiya also marks the end of suffering and the beginning of Satya Yuga– time for an epochal as well as an internal beginning when we detox, practice spiritual rituals and become pure as Gold through our inner alchemy. Unfortunately, we have largely externalised this significance of Akshay Tritiya and reduced it to the ritual purchase of gold only.
Makarand Dave, one of the saint poets from Gujarat, in a personal conversation with the author had explained three kinds of people. The first kind is like copper, a metal which needs cleaning every day. This kind of people gets contaminated easily from external contact. The second kind is like silver. The outer environment does affect them, but they get contaminated slowly over time and does not need cleansing every day. The third category of people is like Gold. Gold can never be tainted by forces of the outer environment. It has the quality of the pure state which is achievable through tapas, following several purification rituals to reach this level. On Akshaya Tritiya, many people purchase gold. However, this is the day for antah–shuddhi or inner purification, to become Hirnya or of gold ourselves. One of the key significant rituals of this day is to plant Peepal, Banyan, Tulsi, Guduchi, and other large trees for restoring purity in our physical body and in our surroundings, making the practice highly relevant for the pandemic times we are living through. Lately, have we not realised the extent to which our immunity has been compromised and made us susceptible to deadly contagions? Grasping for oxygen and struggling to find artificial oxygen support should awaken us to the importance of planting more trees for health and ecology. Medicinal plantations done today will have Akshaya qualities in them due to the inherent energy of this tithi.
लोका: समस्ता: सुखिनो भवन्तु