Akshay Trutiya was the day when Satyayuga ended and Tretayuga began. Let’s learn the importance of this Indian festival of Akshay Trutiya alongwith its method of celebration, significance of “Til-tarpan” and “Udak-kumbh” that are performed on this auspicious day and much more through this comprehensive article.
The science of spirituality (Adhyatmashastra) is to be followed during regular time, that is, when all conditions are conducive and one is able to perform all actions as prescribed by Dharma.
It is important to note that Hindu Dharma has made provisions on how to follow Dharma even during apatkaal (times of severe adversity). It is known as Apaddharma. Apaddharma comes from ‘Aapadi kartavyo Dharmah |’, which means Dharma which needs to be practised in adverse times. Currently, the entire country is under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival of Akshay Trutiya is also coming up at the same time, hence we will not be able to follow some of the actions prescribed by Dharma. This article explores the various acts of Dharma that one can follow even during such times. This shows the extent to which Hindu Dharma is prepared to face any eventuality. This also shows the uniqueness of Hindu Dharma.
Videos on Akshaya Tritiya
Vaishakh Shukla Trutiya (Third day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Vaishakh) is known as Akshay Trutiya. This day is celebrated as festival and is observed as vrat also. The day of Akshay-Trutiya has several other importance aspects associated with it.
It has been stated in an ancient Sanskrut Holy text named Madanratna that Bhagavan Shrikrushna has narrated importance of this day to Yudhishthir. He says,
अस्यां तिथौ क्षयमुर्पति हुतं न दत्तं । तेनाक्षयेति कथिता मुनिभिस्तृतीया ।।
उद्दिश्य दैवतपितृनि्क्रयते मनुष्यैः । तत् च अक्षयं भवति भारत सर्वमेव ।। – मदनरत्न
Meaning : (Shrikrushna says) O Yudhishtir, the offerings made and the oblations offered in the sacrificial fire on this day never go in vain. Hence, Sages have imparted the name Akshay Trutiya to this day. Everything done on this day for the sake of Deities and ancestors is Akshay, meaning they are imperishable.
In every Yuga (Era), with passage of time, sattvikata goes on decreasing, meaning the effect of Raja-Tama goes on increasing. Capacity of human beings to perform spiritual practice decreases and they do not abide by Dharma. This destroys righteousness. In such situation, God incarnates for the purpose of establishment of Dharma and creates appropriate means of spiritual practice which can be followed by human beings. It helps in increasing sattvikata and beginning of Satyayuga of the next Era. This transition period is known as Shunya-kal or Kalah-kal. As per Hindu Scriptures, the Day marking the ending of one Era and beginning of the other is considered to be very important. It marks the end of Kalah-kal of one Era and commencement of the Satyayug of the next Era. This period, meaning the muhurta or the auspicious time lasts for a few moments; but its effect lasts for next 24 hours. Therefore, the whole day is considered to be auspicious.
On the day of Akshay-Trutiya, incarnations of God like Hayagreeva, Parashuram and Naranarayana manifested.
Akshay Trutiya is also considered to be one of the 3-1/2 auspicious muhurtas. To be precise, the 3-1/2 auspicious muhurtas are – Chaitra Shukla Pratipada, meaning the New Year, Vijaya Dashami and Akshay Trutiya. These are the 3 muhurtas and Bali Pratipada is taken as half muhurta.
On the day of Akshay Trutiya, the Brahma and Shrivishnu Principles jointly descend to Earth. It increases the sattvikata of the Earth by 10 %. So far, we have learnt about various reasons associated with the importance of Akshay Trutiya.
Since Bharatiyas always consider the first day of any time period to be auspicious, the scriptures prescribe rituals like ritualistic bathing, donations etc. on such days. The ritual performed on this day includes a bath with sacred water, puja (Ritualistic worship) of Shrivishnu, chanting, a hom (Fire-sacrifice performed to appease Deities), donations and pitrutarpan (offerings to ancestors). It is recommended that Apindak shraddh (rite for departed ancestors) be done on this day and if this is not feasible, then at least an offering of sesame seeds should be made. Offerings should be only to the deserving. Offering to Saints or spiritual Organisations spreading righteousness in society is an offering to the deserving. By offering to the deserving, the act of donating becomes akarma-karma (An act, action which despite being a karma bestows the benefits of akarma [An act, action which does not give rise to destiny]). The account of merits-sins is not applicable to an akarma-karma. Therefore, the donor is not entrapped in any kind of attachment and this helps his spiritual progress.
Akshay Trutiya has a special significance for women in Maharashtra. On this day, they are supposed to immerse Chaitragouri (the female Deity Gouri) worshipped by them in the Hindu lunar month of Chaitra. They also arrange ‘Haldi-kumkum’ ceremony (where a married woman applies haldi (turmeric powder) and kumkum (vermilion) to other married women) on any Tuesday or Friday between Chaitra Shukla Trutiya and Vaishakh Shukla Trutiya.
Til-tarpan means offering til (sesame seeds) and water to Deities and ancestors. Meaning of tarpan is offering water to Deities and ancestors; meaning, offering water through thumb side of the palm of right hand to make them happy. Water offered for ancestors is called as Pitru-tarpan. Ancestors expect from their descendants offering of Pinda and Brahman-bhojan (offering meal to Brahman); similarly, they expect to get water. By doing tarpan, ancestors are satisfied. Til symbolize sattvikata and water symbolizes pure bhav. Deities are offered white til and ancestors are offered black til. Black til emit frequencies of Raja/ Tama components; with the help of which insatiate souls of ancestors can easily come to the place on Earth where such rite is being performed. They have part of offering made in such rite and they are satisfied.
Position of palm while performing Til-tarpan to Deities
A. First hold a round, shelving metal dish of copper in hand.
B. Remember Brahma and Shrivishnu and their joint form Shri Dattatreya and pray to them to descend to that dish.
C. Have the bhav that Deities have descended to the copper dish in their subtle form.
D. Take white til and with a bhav of offering them to Deities, let them flow from palm through fingers into the copper dish below by pouring water on the palm, so that they fall in the dish.
E. Fold hands and pay obeisance to Deities.
This is the method of til-tarpan for Deities. When til and water are offered with bhav to Deities, individual making such offering can imbibe sattvikata of the Deities to larger extent.
On this day, sattvikata from higher regions reaches earth to a greater extent. Many souls from Nether region come close to earth on this day to imbibe this sattvikata. This can cause distress to human beings. Distress due to insatiate ancestors’ souls is about 30 to 40%. As their souls come close to earth, they get energy through the til-tarpan and also attain momentum for further journey.
Performing til-tarpan for departed ancestors
A. Take a round, shelving metal dish of copper and pray to departed ancestors to come to the dish.
B. Maintain bhav that ancestors have descended in subtle form into the dish.
C. Take black til (Sesame seeds) in hand.
D. Pray to Shrivishnu and Brahma for til to get charged with their Principles.
E. Then, such til charged with the Principles of Deities, should be offered in the round, shelving metal dish of copper along with water may through the space between thumb and index finger. Have the bhav that you are offering til and water to ancestors.
F. Pray to Deity Dattatreya, Brahma or Shrivishnu for smooth onward journey of ancestors’ souls.
Ancestors love til (Sesame seeds) and negative energies do not create obstacles in the ritual performed for the sake of ancestors when til are used. Til have greater capacity to imbibe sattvikata and destroy Raja/Tama. Upon invoking the subtle-bodies of the ancestors while performing til-tarpan, they enter the copper shelving dish as per the bhav of the individual performing the ritual. These subtle-bodies have a distressing covering around them. Upon performing the til-tarpan, these subtle-bodies imbibe sattvikata. The subtle-body that is satisfied with the ritual, starts losing the distressing covering and a protective covering of chaitanya begins to get formed around the subtle-body. It also acquires energy and vital energy necessary for its onward journey. As a result, the subtle-body losses its grossness, becomes light in weight and acquires momentum. Owing to til-tarpan, distress caused by ancestral problems reduces by about 5 to 10%. By performing til-tarpan on the day of Akshay Trutiya, the individual performing it is able to repay his debt unto the Deities and ancestors to some extent.
The offering made on this day is everlasting. It has been stated in Puranas to make offerings of good raw grain, udak-kumbh, meaning a pot filled with water, fan made of khus (Root of Andropogon muricatus grass), umbrella, shoes/ footwear etc. on the day of Akshay Trutiya for the sake of ancestors.
Offering udak-kumbh to Brahmans
Udak-kumbh is termed as a nirguṇ (Non-materialised) pot that is at all encompassing level. When udak-kumbh is offered for the sake of ancestors, they eliminate our desires. So also the God’s blessings obtained through the act help eliminate our demerits generated through our karmas. Our subtle desires generated due to our karmas are offered at the Holy feet of God in the form of this offering. The meaning of offering udak-kumbh filled with water is by treating the water filled in the pot as sacred, immersing all kinds of our desires related to body and karma into that pot, purifying our body by destroying desires with karma performed without any expectations, and then offering all such desires at the feet of a Brahman through the medium of udak-kumbh treating him as a form of Deity and ancestor.
In the kalash (pot) kept for Deities, Shrivishnu is instated by the name of Vasant-Madhav and puja is performed; however, all the ancestors are invoked in the kalash kept for ancestors, and puja is performed.
Keep two short stools, one for Deities and the other for ancestors. Place on them heaps of rice grain as per your capacity and two round, shelving metal dishes of copper. Keep kalash over them. Keep a coconut near the kalash; so also keep couple of betel leaves separately for each kalash. Then keep a betel nut and dakshina (monetary offering) on them. Keep fruit for offering as naivedya. In the kalash, kept for Deities, put a betel nut and white til and black til and betel nut in the kalash kept for ancestors. Before starting kalash-puja, perform achaman, pranayam and pronounce desh-kal and make a resolve. Put a new cloth around the kalash. Pray and invoke Vasant-Madhav in the kalash for Deities and perform its puja. Similarly, perform the puja of kalash for ancestors. After kalash-puja, perform Brahman-puja and kalash for Deities is donated to the Brahman. Pray for welfare of all. Similarly, kalash for ancestors may also be given to Brahman. Pray to God for peace and happiness of the souls of ancestors and for their smooth onward journey.
A. Mantra to be recited while donating an Udakumbha to a brahman
एष धर्मघटो दत्तो ब्रह्मविष्णुशिवात्मकः ।
अस्य प्रदानात् तृप्यन्तु पितरोऽपि पितामहाः ।।
गन्धोदकतिलैर्मिश्रं सान्नं कुम्भं फलान्वितम् ।
पितृभ्यः सम्प्रदास्यामि अक्षय्यमुपतिष्ठतु ।। – धर्मसिन्धु
Meaning : I have donated this dharmaghat (kalash or pot), which contains Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to the Brahman. Let my ancestors and the Deities be satisfied with this act. I am offering this dharmaghat with gandh (sandal), udaka (water), til (sesame seeds), yava (barley) and phal (fruits) to my ancestors. Let this kumbha (kalash) always prove akshaya (imperishable) to me.
A. Chaitanya (Divine consciousness) remains active in the atmosphere in the form of particles.
B. Emotion of gratitude towards the ancestors is generated in individual performing the puja of udak-kumbh and a ring of bhav is generated on his anahat-chakra.
C. A ring of chaitanya keeps on revolving in the udak-kumbh worshipped thus.
D. Upon performing the puja, a ring of Shakti keeps on revolving inside the udak-kumbh.
E. Waves of the ancestors get drawn towards kumbh from Pitru-loka.
F. These waves, owing to the presence of water and black til and the betel nut in the kalash, remain in a ring form and that ring keeps on revolving in activated form.
G. While offering the udak-kumbh to the Brahman, a Sattva-predominant ring gets activated on the anahat-chakra of the individual.
H. A Sattva-predominant flow commences from the individual making the offering towards the Brahman accepting the offerings.
I. A Sattva-predominant ring is generated on the anahat-chakra of the Brahman accepting the offerings.
J. A flow that accommodates the subtle-bodies remains activated from the Bhu-lok (Earth region) to the Pitru-lok (Region of the dead).
K. Dissatisfied ancestors dwell in this flow in the form of subtle-bodies.
L. Distressing covering of un-fulfilled desires on these subtle-bodies is eliminated. They acquire momentum and depart for their onward journey and they go to the next region.
M. A flow of chaitanya in the form of blessings commences from the ancestors to the individual.
N. Distressing covering on the individual gets eliminated.
O. A protective covering is formed all round the individual.
18. Other customs followed alongwith
offering of udak-kumbh and til-tarpan on the day of Akshay Trutiya
On this auspicious day, seeds are sown. Puja of soil is performed and trees are planted. At some places, drinking-water is provided to people.
Due to the lockdown, we are restricted from leaving our homes. In this current situation, we have given the alternatives that Apaddharma prescribes –
1. Pavitra Snan – We can derive the benefit of having a dip in the holy waters of the Ganga if we pray to Goddess Ganga while bathing. So chant the following shloka before bathing –
Gange cha Yamune chaiva Godavari Saraswati |
Narmade Sindhu Kaveri jalesmin sannidhim kuru ||
Meaning : O’ holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswari, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri, please reside in these waters.
2. Satpatre Daan (donating to the worthy) – Today, there are various organizations that accept donations online. So you can utilise these processes to donate online to Saints who are engaged in the spread of Spirituality or such organizations. You need not step out of the house to donate.
3. Donating a kumbh of water – The Shaastras say that on Akshay Trutiya a kumbh (pot) of water should be donated. Since it is not possible to go out now, you can make a resolve (Sankalp) on this day and whenever the travel restrictions end and the Government advises that it is safe to venture outside, you can perform the actual donation.
4. Pitrutarpan – Offering to the departed ancestors. You can pray to your ancestors and offer the tarpan in your house.
5. Rites that are performed according to one’s Kula (lineage) – Kulachar – If you are performing any other rites as part of your kulachar (hereditary rites), please ensure that they do not violate the conditions set by the administration.