Akshaya Tritiya

Greetings to you all on this auspicious Akshaya Tritiya day.( 29st April 2017,Saturday).An impressive array of planets greets us with Sun with Mercury in Aries, Venus in Pisces.Moon in Taurus and Saturn in Sagittarius.This would be the harbinger of boundless prosperity and happiness.

Akshaya Tritiya on the third day of the bright half of the lunar month of Vaisakha of the traditional Hindu calendar is auspicious for the Hindus. Akshaya, a Sanskrit word, means one that never degrades. The day is believed to bring good luck and success. It is widely occasioned in all parts of India. By doing a good deed on this day one can earn punya for one’s entire life. It is said that Satya Yuga (Krita yuga) started on this day. On this day the Sun and Moon are at their peak of auspiciousness. Veda Vyasa started dictating the Mahabharata to Ganesha on this day. Any venture commencing on Akshaya Tritiya would grow and bring prosperity. Weddings, business ventures and trips would be fruitful if either conducted or commenced, respectively, on this day. Purchase of valuable items, such as gold jewelry, on this day, would usher in prosperity.

Akshaya tritiya, is generally observed by fasting, worship of Vishnu as Madhusudana, and feeding the poor. The day gains greater importance when it falls on either a Wednesday or under Rohini star. A dip in the Ganges on this day is considered auspicious.  

Surya gave Yudhishtira an akshaya patra on Akshaya Tritiya. It was a wonderful vessel, which supplied food endlessly to the Pandavas every day. On the commencement of exile by the Pandavas, Yudhishtra was desperate of his inability to feed the sages and others who accompanied him. At this, Dhaumya, the priest of the Pandavas, counseled him to pray to Surya. Pleased with Yudhishtira’s prayers, Surya blessed him with the akshaya patra on a condition that this vessel would offer unlimited food every day until Draupadi had her meal. When Durvasa visited the Pandavas with his disciples, no food was left to serve him and his entourage, since Draupadi had her meal earlier. The Pandavas turned anxious wondering how to feed Durvasa and his entourage. When Durvasa and his disciples were away bathing, Draupadi prayed to Krishna seeking help. Krishna saved the Pandavas by eating a grain of rice that was sticking to the akshaya patra and announced that He was satisfied with that. This event satiated the hunger of Durvasa and all of his disciples, since the satisfaction of Krishna meant satiation of hunger of the whole Universe. Akshayapatra, in current usage, refers to any store that is inexhaustible.

The Ganga, the most holy and sacred river of India, descended to earth from Heaven on Akshaya Tritiya. There are several Hindu beliefs that explain the origin of Ganga. According to one version, the sacred water in Brahma’s kamandalu (water-vessel) became personified as a maiden, Ganga. According to one Sri Vaishna legend, Brahma had reverently washed the feet of Vishnu and collected this water in his kamandalu… Nonetheless, every version declares that she was raised in the heavens, under the tutelage of Brahma. Several years later, a king named Sagara magically acquired 60,000 sons. One day, King Sagara performed a ritual for the good of the kingdom. One integral component of the ritual was a horse, which was stolen by jealous Indra.

Sagara sent his sons all over the earth searching the horse. They found it in the nether-world (or underworld) next to a meditating sage Kapila. Believing that the sage had stolen the horse, they insulted him disturbing his penance. Kapila opened his eyes for the first time after several years of meditation, and looked at Sagara’s sons, who were charred to death. The souls of Sagara’s sons wandered as ghosts, since their final rites had not been performed.

When Bhagiratha, one of the descendants of Sagara came to know about these events, he vowed to bring Ganga to Earth so that her waters could cleanse their souls and send them to heaven. Bhagiratha prayed to Brahma that Ganga should descend to Earth. Brahma agreed, and he ordered Ganga to go down to the Earth and then on to the nether regions so that the souls of Bhagiratha’s ancestors would go to heaven. Ganga felt that this insulting and decided to sweep the entire earth away as she dropped from the heaven. Alarmed, Bhagiratha prayed to Shiva that he regulates Ganga’s descent. Ganga arrogantly fell on Shiva’s head. But Shiva calmly trapped her in his mats of hair and let her out as a slim stream. The touch of Shiva further sanctified Ganga. As Ganga travelled to the nether-worlds, she created a different stream to remain on Earth to help purify unfortunate souls there. She is the only river to follow from all the three worlds – Swarga (heaven), Prithvi (earth) and, Patala (netherworld or hell).Thus is called Tripathagā, who travels the three worlds in Sanskrit. Because of Bhagiratha’s efforts Ganga descended on to earth and hence the river is also known as Bhagirathi, and the term “Bhagiratha prayatna” is used to describe valiant efforts or difficult achievements.
Akshaya Tritiya is the marriage day of Madurai Minakshi and Sundareswara. To respond to the prayers of Malayadwaja Pandia and his wife Kanchanamalai, Parvati appeared out of the holy fire of the putra kameshti yagna performed by Malayadwaja. According to another legend, Minakshi herself had granted a boon to Kanchanamalai in one of her previous births that she will have the privilege of mothering Her. This girl, who came out of the holy fire, had three breasts, to the king’s surprise. A heavenly voice announced that the third breast would disappear when Minakshi meets her fiancé. The happy king named the girl as Tadatagai, who grew up as a normal human girl. Being the heir to the Pandia throne after Malayadwaja, Tadaatagai was trained in all the 64 sastras, which included warfare. As the time came when Tadatagai should be crowned, according to the tradition, she had to wage war on the three worlds across eight directions (dikvijayam). After conquering Satyaloka (Lord Brahma’s Abode), Vaikuntha (Lord Vishnu’s Abode) and Amaravati (the abode of the Devas), she advanced to Kailas (Shiva’s Abode). She easily defeated the bhoota ganas and nandi, and headed to attack Shiva No sooner than she looked at Shiva, she shyly bowed her head; the third breast disappeared. Tadatagai realized the reason and understood that Shiva was to be her husband. She also realized that she was the incarnation of Parvati. Both Shiva and Tadatagai returned to Madurai and the king arranged the coronation ceremony of his daughter, followed by her marriage to Shiva, the next day. The marriage was the biggest event on earth, with the whole earth gathering in Madurai.

Vishnu, the brother of Minakshi Adi Sankaracharya during his Brahmacari Bhikshadana, visited once, the house of a poor lady. Nothing was available in that house to offer to the brahmacarin. She was upset and regretted her inability to give anything to the young boy. She found a nelli-k-kai (amla fruit; Indian gooseberry) in her house but was shy to offer it to him. However, she offered it to Sankara in humility and respect. Sankara was touched by the gesture of the poverty stricken woman and immediately started beseeching Lakshmi to be merciful towards the poor lady. He recited 22 verses in praise of Lakshmi, Who appeared before Sankara. Sankara pleaded to Lakshmi to bless the poor lady. Lakshmi replied that the lady did not qualify to get any riches in this life since she was uncharitable in her previous birth, and therefore this is her fate. Sankara while accepting her stand replied that in this life she gave him an Amla fruit (Indian gooseberry) with great reverence in spite of not having anything in her house due to extreme poverty. This gesture of hers alone would justify Laskhmi’s blessings. With the advocacy of Sankara, She showered a rain of golden Amla fruits. Thus the hymn Kanakadhara Stotra of Sankara came into existence. This event happened on an Akshaya Tritiya and the home of that lady is now famous as Swarnathu Mana. Remembering this incident, Akshaya Tritiya Kanakadhara Yagnam is performed on this day at Kaladi, Sankara’s birth place.

Perhaps, the most famous of the Akshaya Tritiya stories is the legend of Lord Krishna and Sudama, his poor childhood friend. On this day, as the tale goes, Sudama came over to Krishna’s palace to request him for some financial help. As a gift for his friend, Sudama had nothing more than a handful of beaten rice. He was thoroughly ashamed to give it to Krishna, but Krishna took the pouch from him and relished eating it. Krishna followed the principle of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ ( Treat the guest as God) and treated Sudama like a king. His poor friend was so overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality of Krishna, that he could not ask for financial favour and returned empty handed. When Sudama reached his place, Sudama’s old hut was transformed into a palace! He found his family dressed in royal attire and everything around was new and expensive. Sudama knew that it was a boon from Krishna, who blessed him with more than the wealth he actually intended to ask for. This event took place on Akshaya tritiya.

A trader by name Mahodayan did lots of charity on Akshaya tritiya. He donated both money as well as food and prayed to Madhusudana on that day. In his next birth he was born as a king whose Treasury was always overflowing. He lived with everlasting fame, according to Bhavishya Purana.

Parasurama is the sixth avatara of  Maha Vishnu and belongs to the Treta yuga. Parasurama was born as the son of Jamadagni. Parasu means axe and Parasurama means Rama with the axe. Parasurama is also one of the seven chiranjeevis (immortals) according to Hinduism. Incidentally Parasurama is the only avatara of Mahavishnu who qualifies as an immortal – all other avatars of Vishnu are Mortals, including Sri Rama and Sri Krishna. It is believed that Mahavishnu incarnated as Parasurama to make the earth free from the burden of cruel Kshatriya kings by avenging them. According to Hindu belief, Parashurama lives on earth, even today. Legends also have it that the state of Kerala was created by Parasurama. The coastal areas of Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra are called Parasurama Kshetra.

One should be careful in knowing the exact time at which the auspicious thithi operates. Sometimes what happens is Akshaya Tritiya might operate till noon so that if some deed is performed in the evening it comes under the inauspicious Chathurti Thithi.However this year ,Akshaya Tritiya operates only till 6.55 AM. This means that we need to wind up the day’s important events by early morning since Chaturthi starts at that time.Also avoid viewing the evening sky today as viewing the Moon on Sukla Chaturthi brings calumny.