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The day when many changes took place

india Updated: May 13, 2010 22:27 IST
Devdutt Pattanaik
Devdutt Pattanaik
Hindustan Times
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Akshaya Tritiya, also known as Akha Teej, which falls on the third day of the waxing moon of the month of Vaishaka in summer(on Saturday) is a day of transition, of movement.

It is the day that marks the commencement of the building of the juggernaut chariots of Jagannath of Puri. It is the day when Ganga moved from the sky to the earth.

It is the day when an era changed — from Krita yuga to Treta yuga. Hindus believe that all life forms go through the cycle of birth and death. So does the universe. Just as a human has four stages of life, so does the universe.

These are the four yugas of samsara — Krita, Treta, Dvapar and Kali. Traditionally, on Akshaya Tritiya, the Krita Yuga came to an end and the Treta Yuga began.

Krita Yuga was the perfect age, when people did not want/need anything. All things that people wanted were available easily and things were exchanged generously.

All this changed when a King called Kritarjuna forcibly took away a cow that belonged to a sage called Jamadagni. Sages or Rishis were peaceful people and Jamadagni could protest but do nothing as the king being a Kshatriya possessed the strength of military might.

Rishi Jamadagni had a son called Rama. He refused to accept this animal-like barbaric behaviour of the king lying down. The king was supposed to defend and protect his people, not steal from them. Enraged, he picked up an axe and did the unthinkable. He hacked the king to death.

Akshaya Tritya is also called Parashurama Jayanti, to celebrate victory over Kritarjuna and the return of the Rishi’s cow. In a way, this day serves the same purpose in summer as Diwali in autumn, which marks the return of Raghava Rama after the killing of another avaricious king, Ravana.

Just like Diwali, it too is associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.