by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Greatness of Akshaya Tritiya which is chapter 23 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the twenty-third chapter of the Vaishakhamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
All those who take the holy bath early in the morning at sunrise on that day, shall be rid of sins. They will go to the great region of Viṣṇu.
Men who worship Madhusūdana and listen to the (divine) story on the Akṣayatṛtīyā day are partakers of salvation.
If people make charitable gifts on that day for the propitiation of the Slayer of Madhu, it will have auspicious and inexhaustible benefit at the bidding of the Slayer of Madhu (Viṣṇu).
7. I shall tell, O tiger among kings, the reason for which this Tithi has become famous. Listen to it with great mental concentration.
9-14. After defeating Bali and forcing him to stay in the nether worlds, he (Indra) came to the earth once again. He went to the hermitage of (Bṛhaspati’s brother) Utathya. There he saw his wife who was pregnant and hence could walk only very slowly. She was well adorned with a girdle tied to her tremulous hips. The sweet jingling sound of the bangles surpassed that of the inebriated bees and cuckoos. She had beautiful garments of various colours. The beautiful lady was sweet-voiced with beautiful smiles. Her pair of breasts resembled a pair of very fine pitchers. Her eyes were like blue lilies. When she laughed her face resembled a lotus. She appeared very charming with her pale cheeks resembling the interior of a Ketakī flower-bunch. On account of weariness she took deep breaths. Her eyes indicated her pitiable plight. She lay somewhere near the entrance to the hut. She was asleep on her bed. On seeing her, Indra became enamoured and raped her though she was pregnant.
15. The foetus in the womb became miserable and feared that it might fall out. Hence, it closed the vaginal passage by means of its foot.
16. Thereupon, the seminal fluid of the enemy of Bali became scattered on the ground. Therefore Lord Indra became furious with the foetus.
17-19. With the edge of the eyes turned red like copper, he furiously cursed him: “O wicked one, become blind at the very birth, since you have insulted me by closing the vaginal passage.” Thereafter, the son named Dīrghatapas was born. (Defective Text) Jālata (?) was born from the seminal fluid that was scattered (on the ground) by the foot. Afterwards Indra was afraid of the curse of the sage and he went away. All the religious students laughed on seeing Indra running.
20. Thereupon he became ashamed and went to a splendid cave of Meru. Remaining concealed there, he performed a great and fierce penance.
21-26. When Devendra resided on Meru, lying concealed there on account of shame, Bali and other Daityas came to know of it through spies. They attacked Suras and rejoiced at Amarāvatī. Bali became Indra. The powerful ones including Śambara enjoyed the prosperity and riches of the Guardians of the Quarters, when the kingdom of the heaven-dwellers became devoid of a lord. Unable to know where their protector was, Devas with Agni at their head asked holy Lord Dhiṣaṇa (i.e. Jupiter or Bṛhaspati), the sinless preceptor of Devas. They asked him about Indra: “Where does our lord stay? This kingdom of the heaven-dwellers is devoid of its leader (and hence) it is attacked by Daityas. Why does the lord not return? A great deal of time has elapsed. O holy lord, O Dhiṣaṇa, we shall go to him at the place where he is (now). We shall request him.” On being asked thus by Devas, Dhiṣaṇa said to them:
27-28. “After conquering Bali in Rasātala (nether worlds), he went to the hermitage of Utathya. He forcibly enjoyed (the sage’s) wife and was censured by his disciples. He is ashamed to come back to heaven. So he has entered a cave of Meru. The Lord continues to stay there accompanied by Śacī. He is thinking about his own (shameful) act.”
29-30. On hearing these words of his, Devas with Agni as their leader, hurriedly went to the cave of Mountain Meru in order to see the lord and request him. On seeing Devendra, the chastiser of Pāka, remaining hidden in the cave they eulogized him by means of eulogies extolling his vigour and exploits as well, well-known in the worlds.
31. “O Indra, obeisance to you, the lord of all the Devas. We are harassed by the Daityas. Without you we are extremely afflicted and dejected.
32. We are dislodged from our abodes and we wander in different lands in great misery. Hence, O Devendra, come and kill the enemies, O suppressor of enemies.”
33. On being eulogized by Devas thus, he came through the entrance of the cave. Due to sense of shame, he had bent down his head and he remained gazing at the ground with his eyes.
34. He did not say anything, because his speech was choked on account of sadness. On coming to know of it, Dhiṣaṇa spoke to Surendra who was afraid:
35-38. “O lord of Suras, do not be afraid or suspicious. This universe depends upon Karma. Honour and dishonour, happiness and misery, profit and loss and victory and defeat—all these occur to one in accordance with the previous Karmas. There is no doubt about it. The individual soul closely follows the Karmas. Misery is accorded by fate in due course. Wise men do not bewail generally (when there is adversity). They are not elated when there is happiness. Hence, this misery has befallen you on account of the Karma that has started its fruition (effect), O lord. O Maghavan, having attained that misery, it does not behove you to lament over it.”
On being told thus by his preceptor, Indra spoke to the overlords of the Devas:
39-41. On account of the sexual contact with another man’s wife, my strength, vigour, pure reputation, the power of Mantras, the power of scriptural texts and the power of learning—all these have vanished. Hence I remain silent.
On hearing the words of Indra, all Devas accompanied by their preceptor had a confidential meeting to devise means to restore his power once again. Then Guru (Bṛhaspati), the most excellent one among those who are conversant with things, spoke in a piteous tone.
42. This month is Vaiśākha by name. It is liked much by the Slayer of Madhu. In this month all the lunar days are meritorious. It is the most favourite month of Mādhava.
43-45. There too in the bright half of this month (the third day) named Akṣaya (is the most favourite). If anyone performs holy bath, charitable gift, etc. with faith, thousands of his sins do perish. There is no doubt about it. His prosperity will be free from blemishes. He will acquire strength and courage. Hence for the sake of attaining the benefit, we shall make Indra perform all the good holy rites such as holy bath, charitable gift etc. (on the Akṣaya Tṛtīyā day).
47. After conferring thus along with the Devas, Guru (i.e. Jupiter) made Indra perform all these holy rites which delight Hari.
48. He made him perform all those holy rites which yield worldly pleasures, on the third lunar day named Akṣaya. Thereby the courage, strength etc. of the lord attained the previous level.
50-55. Like Viṣṇu he shone amidst the Devas. Afterwards accompanied by Devas he defeated Asuras. It was due to the great potency of the Tṛtīyā that he entered Amarāvatī with all glory and a fanfare of conchs and musical instruments. Permitted by Śakra the Suras went to their respective abodes. Then they got back their shares in the Yajñas as before. Pitṛs got their shares of the rice-balls as before. The sages were contented with the study of the Vedas. The Daityas faced defeat.
Ever since then the Tṛtīyā named Akṣaya became famous in all the worlds. It bestowed satisfaction on the Devas, sages and Pitṛs. Hence this is highly meritorious. It destroys all Karmas. The Tṛtīyā named Akṣaya yields worldly pleasures and salvation to men.
Footnotes and references:
The story of Indra’s rape and subsequent hiding, Asuras’ conquest of Svarga, Bṛhaspati’s attribution of Indra’s act to previous Karmas and request to Indra to rejoin his only post of Indra, is not known to Mbh, BhP and other Purāṇas. This story is found in this Purāṇa only and is meant for the glorification of Akṣaya Tṛtīyā.
As a matter of fact, this Tithi is regarded meritorious as the Kṛtayuga began on this day and this Tithi secures permanency to actions performed on this day.
In VāP 11.37. 37-42, this shameful rape mentioned in v 14 here is attributed to Bṛhaspati who raped his brother Aśija’s wife Mamatā, not that of Utathya. The foetus cursed to be blind by him is Dīrghatamas and not Dīrghatapas as given here.
It may be noted that out of 96 incidents about Indra recorded in the Purāṇic Encyclopedia not a single one mentions this act with reference to Utathya’s wife and his subsequent hiding in Mt. Meru