Green Gold

wealthymattersIn Maharashtra there is the practice of offering the leaves of the Aapati tree as sona/gold on Dussehra and saying  “Sona ghya, sonasarkha waga” (take gold and be like gold).There is a deep significance behind doing so.

According to the Puranas,Kautsa, the young son of a Brahmin called Devdatt, lived in the city of Paithan. After completing his education with Rishi Varatantu, he insisted on his guru accepting Guru Dakshina, a present. The guru said, “Kautsa, to give dakshina in return for learning wisdom is not appropriate. Graduation of the disciple makes the guru happy, and that is the real Guru Dakshina.”

Kautsa was not satisfied. He still felt it was his duty to give his guru something. The guru said, “All right, if you insist on giving me dakshina, then give me 140 million gold coins, 10 million for each of the 14 sciences I have taught you.”

Kautsa went to King Raghu. Raghuraja was an ancestor of Lord Rama, famous for his generosity. But just at that time he had spent all his money on the Brahmins, after performing the Vishvajit sacrifice. Raghuraja asked Kautsa to return in three days. Raghuraja immediately left to get the gold coins from Indra,the king of the Gods. Indra summoned Kuber, the god of wealth. Indra told Kuber, “Make rain of gold coins, fall on the Shanu and Aapati trees around Raghuraja’s city of Ayodhya.”

The rain of gold coins began to fall. King Raghu gave all the coins to Kautsa, and Kautsa hastened to offer the coins to Varatantu Rishi. Guru had asked only 140 millions, so he gave the rest back to Kautsa. Kautsa was not interested in money, considering honour to be more valuable than wealth. He asked the king to take the remaining gold coins back. But the king refused, as kings do not take back  daan (gifts).

Finally Kautsa distributed the gold coins to the people of Ayodhya on the day of Ashvin shukla dashami. In remembrance of this event, there has been a custom of plucking the leaves of the Aapati tree, and then presenting them to one another as gold.

The vijay mahurat on Dussehra is considered to be extremely auspicious and one of wish fulfillment. Offering the leaves is symbolic of wishing prosperity and happiness.The correct way is to offer 4 to 5 leaves first to god and then to elders. A son-in-law should offer it to his mother-in-law and she should in turn give him a coconut.

In bygone times, kings used to worship the goddess by performing severe penance and rituals during the navratras. This was done to accumulate strength and blessings,On Dussehra day, they would cross the boundary,simolanghan , of their kingdom to conquer other kingdoms.The Marathas often went raiding after Dussehra,To mount a raid, the leaders raised resources from their followers and promised to pay them back  from the booty captured,Today there is a tradition among the political elite of Maharashtra of offering Sona to leaders/mentors as a promise of service in exchange for a suitable position when the group makes it to power.


About Keerthika Singaravel

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