Generally known as a Hindu auspicious day, akshaya tritiya holds a much greater significance for the entire human society. Due to this, many great personalities in the past chose this day to perform special acts. Also known as Akshay Trutiya, Akha Treej, Akti and a few other names, this special day falls on the third lunar day (tithi) ) of bright half (shukla paksha) of the Vedic month of Vaishakh. The word “akshaya” means imperishable, and tritiya means third day.
We mention here a few historical events that took place on this day.
Akshaya tritiya marks the beginning of Treta yuga
There are four yugas, or primary eras; Satya yuga or Krita yuga, Treta yuga, Dvapara yuga and Kali yuga. We are now in Kali yuga, which has the shortest lifespan of all and lasts for 4,31,000 earthly years. Dwapara yuga is two times longer, Treta yuga is three times and Satya yuga is four times longer than Kali yuga. All four yugas combined make one divya yuga and 1000 such divya yugas make one day on Lord Brahma’s planet, known as Brahma loka, or Satya loka. Lord Brahma lives there for 100 years, which is the lifespan of this particular universe.
Akshaya tritiya is the day when Treta yuga begins. Keep in mind that there are 1000 Treta yugas in one day of Lord Brahma and every Treta yuga beings on akshay tritiya day.
Akshaya tritiya is the appearance day of Lord Parashurama
Lord Parashurama is a shakyavesh avatar, or an empowered incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is famous for His role in Ramayana when He came to the Sita svayamvara ceremony. He was extremely angry to see the Shiv Dhanush (the formidable bow of Lord Shiva) broken by Lord Rama but was pacified and humbled when Lord Rama revealed to Him that He was Vishnu Himself. Lord Parashurama is also known through out the universe for having destroyed ksatriya kings from the surface of the Earth for 21 times! He did it to teach that although endowed with strength, the kings are also bound to follow rules and regulations set for them in the Vedic scriptures and that misuse of their strength will cause their own destruction.
Mother Ganga descended to Earth on Akshaya tritia day!
In previous ages mother Ganga, the river, did not flow on the Earth. It was king Bhagirath who requested her to come down from the heavenly planets for a specific purpose. This is why Ganga is also known as Bhagirathi. Due to her immense force, Ganga thought that the Earth will not be able to hold her stream. Then Lord Shiva told her to land on his Jata (matted hair). Later on Ganga water was released by Lord Shiva and she touched the Earth, purifying billions of people since then. Akshaya tritiya is the day Mother Ganga descended.
One important thing is, since the cosmos is unimaginably huge, naturally majority of cosmic events seem mind-boggling to human brain. But this does not make them mere imaginations. They are historical events and should not be mistaken as myths. Vedic scriptures are filled with descriptions of cosmic events.
Maharshi Veda Vyasa began to write Mahabharat on Akshay tritiya day
Containing 1,00,000 verses, Mahabharat is one of the biggest compilations of historical events during Vedic era. It was Lord Ganesh who first assisted Maharshi Veda Vyasa by writing down what he dictated. Akshaya tritiya was the day when this massive project was initiated.
Pandavas received Akshaya patra from Sun god on this day
When Pandavas were cheated by Shakuni and team and sent to exile, king Yudhisthira became anxious about providing food to visiting guests and brahmanas while in the forest. He was advised by the brahmanas to worship the Sun god. Seeing King Yudhisthira’s devotion the Sun god appeared to him and gifted him the akshaya patra, a container or pot that supplied unlimited food. Although uncommon, such events did take place during previous ages when human beings were highly pious and demigods, or devas, the managers of universal affairs, were pleased with them. The boon was, until queen Draupadi finished honoring prasadam, the akshaya patra would keep supplying food for the entire day. The day when king Yudhisthir received this boon was akshya tritiya day.
Kubera was made the treasurer of heaven on this day
God’s kingdom is not whimsical. He has appointed various personalities in charge of universal affairs. One such office bearer is Kubera. He, as the treasurer, is entrusted with the responsibility of managing heavenly wealth. Akshaya tritiya was the day when he was honored with this responsibility.
Sudama visited His childhood friend Krishna in Dwarka on this day
Sudama and Krishna are well known childhood friends. Sudama was a simple-hearted, austere brahmana. The glory of his reunion with Krishna after many years is sung through out India even today. In Dwarka, Lord Krishna welcomed his childhood friend with great affection and honored him by washing his feet along with queen Rukmini. He then seated him on His throne and offered worship as Sudama was a brahmana. Later they discussed beautiful childhood memories. This happened on the day of Akshaya tritiya.
Lord Jagannath chariot construction begins on Akshaya tritiya day
Since thousands of years, Lord Jagannath comes out from the Temple on a particular day of the year to give darshan to one and all without discriminating who is qualified and who is not. The Lord comes out along with His elder brother Balaram and younger sister Subhadra Devi, who all ride on three gorgeous chariots. In Jagannath Puri, every year a new chariot is constructed for the Lord. The construction of this chariot begins on Akshaya tritiya day.
The present day Jains commemorate Tirthankara Rishabanatha’s ending of one year fast on this day. This Rishabhanatha is the same Rishabha Deva, the son of King Nabhi mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam. Rishabha deva is considered an empowered incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Apart from this, akshaya tritiya is said to be the appearance day of goddess Annapurna Devi. Also, Adi Shankaracharya composed Kanakadhara strotram on Akshaya tritiya day.
In Orissa, in the famous Khira chora Gopinath temple, all the three Deities- Madana mohan, Govinda ji and Gopinath- are smeared with sandalwood pulp for 21 days starting from Akshaya tritiya. Similarly Lord Jagannath in Puri also gets the same cooling treatment. Following this tradition, ISKCON and other Gaudiya temples around the world also celebrate a festival called chandan yatra when the Deities are smeared with sandalwood pulp for 21 days starting from this day.
Matsya puran chapter 65 describes of glories Akshaya tritiya. The Lord says that this is the tritiya that grants all desires. What one has given in charity, in oblations or in japa on this day has inexhaustible merits. It becomes even more worshipable specifically when it is endowed with the naksatra krutika. Those who engage in fasting, the result of all pious activities attain inexhaustibility.
Lord Visnu is worshipped by akshata, unbroken seeds, and by that activity, this tithi is also known as aksaya. After offering the aksatas to Lord Vishnu and when human beings are blessed with it, they also attain inexhaustible piety. Just by observing akshaya trtiya, one gets the benefit of observing all trtiyas. With upavasa, if one worships Lord Janardana on this trtiya, he attains the highest goal of life.