Legend has it that a young man named Kautsa in Ayodhya once after attaining education from Guru Varatantu asked his Guru to accept a Guru Daskhina. Guru Varatantu at first said he did not want any Dakshina. But young Kautsa insisted that He should take a Dakshina. Guru Varatantu to get rid of Kautsa asked him for 14 crore (140 million) gold coins. One hundred million for each subject taught.
The student then went to Lord Ram who was ruling Ayodhya and asked for the gold coins needed to pay his Guru Dakshina. Lord Ram promised to help Kautsa and asked him to wait near the Apta (Bauhinia Racemosa) Tree in his village. In three days time, Lord Ram with the help of Lord Kuber, the God of Wealth, showered gold coins from the leaves of Apta Tree. The leaves of the trees became gold coins.
Kautsa collected the coins and gave 140 million gold coins to Guru Varatantu. The rest of coins were distributed to the needy by Kautsa.
This happened on a Dussehra day. To commemorate this event even today people , particularly in Maharashtra, collect leaves of Apta tree and present it as ‘sona’ or gold to elders, relatives and friends !
So, yesterday my wife went around in the neighborhood market in Mumbai looking to buy some ‘Apta’ leaves but she could not get them anywhere after a couple of hours of search. Given the pandemic situation, the leaves were not available in the market and most of the sellers promised her to get some stock today. She was left distraught that may be this Dussehra the tradition would be broken with no ‘gold’ leaves to offer.
Today morning my daughter, who is at home on a break after her COVID ward doctor’s duty in a state hospital, took out the book ” A Prayer That Never Fails ” by Sadhvi Vrinda Om to read and out fell the ‘Apta ‘gold leaves from the book (i guess i had kept a few of the leaves received by me last Dussehra in the book) leaving all of us speechless !!
Best wishes to all on this Durgashtami Day !!