Dhanteras is the combination of two root words, Dhan and Teras, meaning Wealth and the Thirteenth Day of the lunar cycle. It ushers the first day of the five day long traditional festival of Deepawali.
On the auspicious occasion of Dhanteras, the modern Hindu flocks to buy gold, utensils and the like. There is nothing wrong with this. However by focusing only on this, modern Hindu misses an opportunity to access an even greater wealth available to them.
The next time you say or hear “Health is Wealth”, do remember that the primal day of Deepawali festivities is the day of the manifestation of Dhanvantari. He emerged on this day in the midst of the great Samudramanthan, holding a kalash full of Amrit (the nectar of immortality) in one hand and the Sacred texts containing the Sciences of Ayurveda in the other.
The neglect of this dimension of Dhanteras is matched by the general apathy towards Ayurveda among the general public. Today, the opposition to Ayurveda is voiced by a segment of people who denounce it viscerally without presenting any evidence or fact-based justification for their stand. This includes many modern medical professionals. Equally, many who support Ayurveda also support it vocally without adequate knowledge of their stand. Ayurveda, like many Hindu Knowledge Systems, has become a tug of war in the realm of faith of non-believers versus believers.
Knowledge is not just power. Like Health, it is also a form of Wealth. Let us, this year on the occasion of Dhanteras in Vikram Samvat 2076, resolve to examine Ayurveda in the light of Knowledge. May the debate on Ayurveda shift from being a matter of mere faith to an understanding based on Knowledge, Truth and our quest to live in the domain of Immortality.
The great work of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad traces the beginnings of the Limitless Cosmos, and among its many pearls, drops us a framework to re-examine our greatest source of wealth in three terse lines followed by the invocation of Shaantih. I quote these timelesss lines:
In the context of Ayurveda, I paraphrase this as follows:
May our understanding of Ayurveda move from the realm of Untruth to Truth
May our adoption of Ayurveda shift from a mode of darkness to acts of Enlightenment
And may we in the process, shift our mode of living from a zone of mortal fear to the bliss of immortality.
May the Wealth of Dhanvantri be enjoyed in the Aura of Knowledge. The inheritors of the knowledge systems of Bharat owe this much to their ancestors.
Wish you and your family a happy and prosperous Deepawali.
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