Did you know that today is celebrated as the National Ayurveda Day?
Mostly not. We have come to associate this day with buying gold or silver or something valuable, because well, Dhan means wealth na?
धन्वन्तरि – Dhanavantari
dhanu = “science of [extracting] arrows” (surgery)
dhanu + anta = dhanvanta = “the end (complete knowledge) of surgery”
dhanvanta + ri = dhanvantari = “he who has the knowledge of surgery”
Generally known to be the Deva of healing.
When did this become God of Wealth??
Anyways, as mentioned last year on this occasion, we have come to associate dhan with wealth.
Dhan in Sanskrit is not wealth. It is something or someone invaluable. For instance,
विद्याधनं सर्व धनं प्रधानम् – the greatest dhan is knowledge. Dhan here refers to knowledge.
Daan again is not donation. Vidyadaan – the gift of learning, jeevandaan – the gift of life – these have much deeper meanings than the literal translations that often accompany them.
And so Dhantrayodashi, or Dhanteras, is about celebrating the gift of health. Not of gold and silver, for health cannot be bought and is therefore priceless.
So this Dhanteras, pray for good health, and then work towards it. Gold and silver will come in due course:)
Here is what I wrote last year…
धनत्रयोदशी (Dhanatrayodashi) is the Sanskrit name of Dhanteras, which is celebrated on Ashwin Krishna Trayodashi, or the thirteenth day of the Krishna Paksha in Ashwin masa, one day before Diwali.
Dhanteras is usually marked by people making a beeline to jewellery stores to purchase gold and silver, as it is considered auspicious to purchase these metals on this day. Ayurvedic doctors celebrate this day as the janma tithi of Sri Dhanavantari – the vaidya of the devas. There are a lot of stories associated with this day, and multiple reasons to celebrate it.
The following day is spent in celebration, a lot of sweets and firecrackers, and in many households, playing of cards, which somehow has become associated with Diwali.
And so it can be confusing – is this a spiritual festival, or a materialistic one? We pray for more wealth, more prosperity, so it surely is associated with “Artha” and not “moksha”, isn’t it?
The good thing about us is that we humans can choose a narrative that best suits us. Wealth is good, and so let’s think of this as material wealth. Buying gold will lead to more gold, more money, since Sri Lakshmi will be pleased if we do so on this day…
But does buying gold and silver guarantee the presence of Shri Lakshmi in your house all the year round?
What is wealth? Money, precious metals, or good health and peace of mind? But wait, aren’t we speaking to the other devas for all that? Aren’t we practicing meditation and yoga for mental and physical health?
So many questions, but only you can find the answers. I can just tell you what I think about it:)
Wealth here, in my opinion, means well-being. Money is not a bad word in Sanatana Dharma, but only if it is used to further a purpose, rather than for addition to accumulating it. True wealth is happiness and peace of mind, physical and mental health. That is when you can make more money, and also spend it judiciously. Dhanatrayodashi is all about wealth – thanking Sri Lakshmi for having blessed you with it, and promising to put it to good use. Dhanteras cannot be about a display of wealth.
So today, on Dhanatrayodashi, spend some time in thankfulness, and a promise to work hard to earn what you rightfully deserve – not less, not more. And put it to good use. Celebrate, but with a sense of responsibility. If you have to purchase gold, do it. But not for the sake of it. Most of the WhatsApp messages that you may have received today centered on gold coins – don’t get carried away by them.
The gold is in your heart, your mind…a noble metal shines and does not tarnish, and a noble soul spreads light and joy. Increase that – it is usually free, but it is also priceless…choose wisely:)
Wish you a very happy Dhanteras!