The third night crescent moon in the month of Vaisakha
Yesterday was Akshaya Tritiya, the ‘Day for New Beginnings.’
I’ve always liked the idea of having a special day to start something new. Projects, businesses, relationships; a day on the calendar to get things off to a good start. We all make new beginnings in life, and its helpful to have a sense of occasion for them. India’s Vedas explain that it’s also crucial to minimise any effects of inauspicious timings.
Akshaya Tritiya is a date in the Vaishnava lunar calendar and falls on the third day of the waxing moon in the month of Vaisakha. It’s an important day for a good reason. Normally, according to astrological calculations, there are right times on any given day for officially marking the beginning of anything new. The signing of a document; the uttering of a public promise; laying the cornerstone of a new building. It may be early morning, at a time inconvenient to you or your friends and witnesses, or it might be later in the evening; still, someone who follows the Vedic customs will observe the correct timing in order to attract all the advantages offered by the auspicious hour. On this day, however, there are no inauspicious times, and so anything begun at any time on this day will continue to be blessed with full strength.
So yesterday I was active in the new beginnings department. I had given directions to a devotee couple getting married in New York; I gave a six month old baby his first grains in an Annaprashna ceremony under a tree in my garden; and I attended a Vag-danam or engagement at the temple in the evening.
Akshaya Tritiya is marked by a three-night crescent moon and it is a day when many other important events happened back in history. It is the day when the Ganges River flowed for the first time; when barley grew for the first time; and it marks the date of the commencement of Treta Yuga. The sixth incarnation of Krishna – Parasurama – was also born on this day. The word akshaya means unlimited, or ever-abundant, and there is a story of the Pandavas wife Draupadi connected with this word. Yudhisthira was given the Akshaya-Patra by a deva, a cooking pot which could serve as many guests as required with delicious food until it was turned upside down.
One afternoon a great guru, Durvasa Muni, came to Draupadi while she was living in the forest with her husbands. He had with him many disciples and expected to receive food in alms from the princess. But the pot was finished for the day and, while Durvasa and his disciples went to wash in a nearby river, Draupadi began to panic. When she called out to Krishna she did so with such intensity that He appeared before her. She explained her predicament and the Lord looked in the pot and found the smallest morsel of food. He placed it within His mouth and instantly all the disciples and their guru felt as bloated as if they’d had a grand feast. Puzzled, but not wishing to embarrass anyone by not eating, they departed.
But if you missed Akshaya Tritiya don’t worry; any day becomes auspicious if you invoke the holy names of Krishna, His incarnations and great devotees; and ask for their blessings in your new endeavour.