No one saves us but ourselves

  • Renuka Narayanan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 26, 2015 12:02 IST

There's been such sad news of people giving up on life last week because of frustrated hopes and overwhelming losses that the Buddha's words come to mind: "No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path."

This sounds like grim consolation. But it is the stark truth, which is powerful mind-medicine. Facing facts can help us find the emotional endurance to somehow get past our sorrows to another phase of life and 'win'. The holy day of Akshaya Tritiya or Akha Teej that occurred last Monday reminded us of this truth. But its message, like other messages from antiquity, culturally coded through story, seemed lost in the clamour of weddings and buying gold.

Akshaya means 'never-decreasing'. If we examine our tradition we find that Akshaya Tritiya marks the coming of important messages for humanity. Firstly, it is the 'birthday' of Mahavishnu's sixth avatar Parshuram, 'Rama of the Axe', whose mission was to lighten earth's burden of unethical and self-indulgent controllers. He never really went away; his lingering presence comes up dramatically in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and he is still revered as the creator of Goa and Kerala, for having claimed these lands from the sea. At a symbolic level, Parshuram represents the indomitable human spirit, infused with intense energy to fight humanity's biggest battle: the battle of our 'good' self with our 'bad' self. This struggle between light and dark in our own minds and the huge effort we must each make within ourselves is poetically symbolised by wrathful Rama of the Axe who was never too proud to admit he was wrong when faced with the truth. Perhaps that's why Parshuram is believed to be amongst us even now, meditating in a Himalayan cave - the cave of the human heart?

Happiness lies within: The fight between good and bad is within ourselves and onus to do something about it is our own. (Photo: Thinkstock images)

Akha Teej is also said to be the day that Veda Vyasa and Sri Ganesha began to write down the Mahabharata. As all know, the agony and ecstasy of human life is detailed on a scale like nowhere else in this epic of epics and an invaluable emotional road map is drawn by Sri Krishna.

Tradition further tells us that Ganga came to earth on Akha Teej (through Bhagirath's untiring effort) and most significantly that Devi appeared as Annapoorna in Kashi on Akha Teej to feed the hungry and prove to Shiva that 'maya' was all very well but since creation had a physical form, 'God' must first and foremost appear to earthly beings as sustenance.

Rather than gold or rituals, the best merit on Akha Teej seems to come from feeding the hungry and helping someone to a livelihood (the deeper meaning of 'food'). When we crack its code, we find that Akha Teej wants to embolden us in our lives through the stories of those who were staunchness personified, fought worthwhile battles against the odds, created assets for the greater good - Parshuram, Vyasa, Bhagirath, the Devi; that its 'never-decreasing' message was, 'Life is challenging, things don't always happen the way we want but other good things can happen - don't give up, walk the path'.

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