Akshaya in Sanskrit, means the ‘ever full, the never diminishing’. It is one of the aspects of divinity which is, always infinite never diminishing.
The day is held sacred in Hindu and Jain calendars. There are three auspicious days according to the Hindu calendar when auspicious works can be undertaken. These are Yugadhi, Vijayadashami and Akshaya Thritiya. This day falls on the third day of the bright half of the month of Vaishaka. It is known as Akha Teej. What is the significance of this day? Is it a day for buying gold as newspapers would like us to believe or is there a greater significance to this day.
Maharishi Veda Vyasa began his grand epic Mahabharatha on this day with the primeval lord who removes all obstacles, Lord Ganesh himself becoming the scribe. Puranas describe that Threta Yuga commenced from this day. The mighty river Ganges descended from the heavens on this day to commence her earthward journey. Goddess Annapoorna Devi was born on this day. The Shiva Purana states that Lord Kuber became the lord of wealth on this day. Parashurama Jayanthi is observed on this day. The holy akshaya patra, the wonder vessel that supplied a never ending stock of food, was gifted by the Sun God to the Pandava princes on this day. Kuchelobhagyanam, the visit by the impoverished Sudama to meet his childhood friend Krishna happened on this day. A life transforming visit from rags to riches indeed! The kanakadara stotra that transformed the house of the lady who gave nothing but a gooseberry was recited on this day by sage Adi Sankara blessing her with riches. Any wonder then that this holy day is associated with wealth, prosperity, riches and material gain.
The Tirthankar, Rishabhdeva along with his followers began to beg for food as alms as it was the practice of an ascetic but unfortunately people could not comprehend the rules of ascetism and only offered him gifts as befitting a King. He would then accept nothing and simply proceed. For one year Rishabhdeva continued rigorous spiritual practices without touching food and water. Then he decided to go to Hastinapur town and try begging for alms again. Shreyans Kumar, the son of the King of Hastinapur realised that Rishabhadeva was wandering without food and water. He then offered salutations and requested Rishabhadeva to break his fast with fresh sugar cane juice as he had been offered 108 pitchers of it just at that time. Rishabadeva then agreed and broke his fast. There was a shower of flowers, gems and divine music from the skies. Thus began the tradition of charity and alms giving. The third day of the bright half of the month of Vaisakh is celebrated as Akshaya Tritiya festival in memory of this incident. After the penance of Varshi Thap (Alternate days of one meal and fast for one year), Jains specifically celebrate it as breakfast day.
And now for the esoteric significance of the day- The day is marked by crass materialism with commercial gains taking an upper hand in the present day world. It is not about making a token purchase of gold and silver. It is a day to remind each seeker that this is a day meant for giving in charity, to lead a life of blessedness sharing whatever each one has with the needy for is that not the Upanishadic injunction– thena thyakthena bhunjeethath– enjoy thy wealth by renouncing it. Good luck and success will certainly follow if one adheres to these precepts.