May 072019

Today is Aksaya Tritiya. In May 2003 I wrote Deena Bandhu Prabhu, my godbrother based in Vrindavan, about the occasion, and his reply follows:

My dear Giriraj Swamiji,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I’m not sure of the history of Aksaya Tritiya. But ksaya means to diminish, so aksaya means that which never diminishes, or which goes on increasing. So, this day is considered a very auspicious day to start anything from which you want the fruits to never diminish.

I see that people start their businesses on this day, do griha-pravesha on this day, start their journeys on this day. And there is a big festival in Nandagram on this day. But if you want to come and see it, you have to book your taxi well in advance, because on this day there are a lot of marriages and all the taxis will be booked up!

The festival in Nandagram celebrates Pavana Sarovara. When Nanda Maharaja established his residence in Nandagram, he excavated a huge lake, and it became known as Nanda Sarovara. He and his family and other Brijbasis would bathe in this lake. Sometimes, he and his family would bathe at one end and Vrishabhanu Maharaja with his family would come and bathe at the other end of the lake. The Brijbasis say that Radha and Krishna used to swim underwater to the middle of the lake and have underwater pastimes.

One day, Nandanandana saw that Mother Yasoda was making very strange types of prasadam—not the everyday rice, dal, subji, and chapatis. But she was making fried dal, little fried noodles, and little fried cracker-like things we call muttry. She was cooking so many fried things.

So Nandalala came and asked, “Oh, Meiya, what kind of funny prasada are you making today?”

She replied to her darling little son, “Lala, today your baba is going on pilgrimage, so I’m making all these fried things, so they will last for several days and he will eat them along the way.”

“And where’s Baba going, Meiya? Tell me, Meiya, where’s Baba going?”

“Lala, Baba is going to Prayag.”

“And where is that, Meiya? Tell me, Meiya.”

“Oh, Lala, I’m busy cooking and you ask so many questions. Go ask you ask your baba, Lala.”

So Nandanandana went to his baba and pulled on his cloth, repeatedly asking, “Where are you going, Baba? Oh, Baba, where are you going? Tell me, Baba, where are you going?”

Nanda Maharaja smiled at the beautiful face of his inquisitive son and replied, “I’m going to Prayag.”

“And where is that, Baba? Tell me, Baba, where is that?”

“Lala, that is a very sacred place where Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati join in sangam. So I’m going there to take my bath, Lala.”

“But, Baba, today is a very inauspicious day to start a journey. You should go tomorrow. It’s Aksaya Tritiya tomorrow, and that is a very auspicious day to start your journey.”

“Ok, Lala, since you are asking, I will go tomorrow. Is that ok, Lala?”

So the next morning Nanda Maharaja got up early like he does every day to take his bath in Nanda Sarovara. When he got there, however, he saw some important big man like a king or something rolling in the dust of Braja and laughing, “Ho, ho, ho! Ah, hah, hah!” Then he would bathe in Nanda Sarovara. Then again he would come out and roll in the Braja raja and laugh, and again bathe in the sarovara.

Nanda Maharaja had never seen a personality like this before in Nandagram, so he asked that person, “Maharaja, who are you?”

“Baba, I’m Prayag.”

Baba in his simple Brijbhasa said, “Pryag? Prag? I don’t know anyone in Nandagram with that name?”

Arey, Baba! I’m not from here. I’m Prayagraj, king of all the tirthas!”

“And why have you come here today, Maharaja?”

“Oh, Baba! All year long people come and put their papa on me. So one day in the year, on Aksaya Tritiya, I come here, roll in the dust of Braja, and bathe in this sarovara and become pavana.”

Pavana means pure, or purified.

Accha? Is it?” Nanda exclaimed.

Then on the other side of the lake, Nanda saw so many beautiful ladies bathing, but not like his Nandagram ladies—with beautiful silk saris with gold and silver threads. He never saw ladies like this in Nandagram.

Approaching them very respectfully, Nanda asked, “Who are you, ladies?”

“Baba, I’m Ganga.” Another said, “I’m Sarasvati.” And yet another said, “I’m Godavari.” They all responded with the names of different holy rivers—Kurujangala, Kaveri, Narmada, Brahmaputra, Mahananda, etc.

Then Baba asked, “And why have you come here today? I’ve never seen you all before.”

Arey, Baba! All year long people put their papa on us. On one day, this Aksaya Tritiya day, we come here, roll in the dust of Braja, bathe in this sarovara and become pavana.”

Accha? Is it?”

Then Baba took his bath and went up the hill to Nandagram. By this time Nandalala was awake. Coming before his father, he asked, “Baba, now you’re going? Yes, Baba? Now you’re going?”

Arey, Lala! Now I’m not going!”

“And why is that, Baba?”

Arey, Lala! All the places I wanted to go, they all came here today to take bath and become pavana. So why should I take the trouble to go to all these places when they all came here?”

So from that day, the sarovara became known as Pavana Sarovara.

In the service of Sri Sri Krishna-Balaram,
Deena Bandhu dasa

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