Akshata is a Sanskrit word, which means 'whole.' In Hinduism, Akshata refers to the unbroken and uncooked rice grains offered to the deity during pujas and other such religious ceremonies. Akshata is known to bring prosperity, fertility, and bounty to the devotee's life. Before making an offer to the deity, the devotee mixes kumkum or turmeric along with ghee or oil to the unbroken rice grains.
Ashata can retain the Chaitanya of a religious ritual for an extended period. They are the finest offerings any devotee can make during a puja. Puja offerings have five layers of articles to be used. They include -
1. A plate of offerings,
2. Aptattva (Absolute Water principle),
3. Tejtattva (Absolute Fire principle),
4. Vayutattva (Absolute Air principle), and
5. Akshtattva (Absolute Ether principle).
A devotee needs to have these articles while performing puja. But in the absence of other things, especially flowers, Akshata is an alternative. It is a boon that could aid us in our prayers.
Significance of Akshata: Devotees sprinkle Akshata on auspicious occasions. It is also used in marriage ceremonies to bless the bride and groom. Devotees store Akshata in a clean place, where no one can step, especially in a home altar. It is because Akshata can attract positive energy. It possesses the vibrations of the deity worshipped. Devotees place Akshata when they cannot offer daily offerings to the lord as well. It is because they are equal to flowers and can absorb, retain, and emit Chaitanya for a long time. There are many religious and scientific significances of using Akshata in prayer as well.
Religious Significance: In Sivapurana, there is a mention of Akshata as an offering while worshipping the Parthva-linga or the Earthen Phallic image. In Vedic rites, devotees can offer Akshata with the mantra, " Namastaksabhyah" There are other religious significances of Akshata as well.
1. Akshata can attract the frequencies of five principal deities of Hinduism - Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga, Lord Ganesha, Sri Ram, and Lord Krishna. Their vibrations are akin to each other. So, they can provide us with Sattvic principles.
2. Devotees can place Akshata in their palms during Sankalpa as it improves their confidence and allows the flow of energy. They can also imbibe the Chaitanya from the deity.
3. There are three actions in prayer:
a) Firstly, Manasika is the concentration of Linga.
b) Secondly, Vachika is the recitation of mantras.
c) Third, Kayika is the worshipping of the Linga. For Kayika, devotees offer Akshata along with other items like Bhasma, Deepa, Gandha, Pushpa, Bilwapatra, Samarpana, and Dhoopa. Devotees perform Pradikshna and Namaskara as well.
4. The rice grains of Akshata contain the vibrations of a deity, and devotees can consume them along with their food. Many store Ashata in their granaries as well.
5. Akshata can transmit the frequencies to the surroundings and the devotees via Pruthvitattva ( Absolute Earth principle) and Apatattva (Absolute Water principle).
These are some of the religious benefits of using Akshata in a religious ceremony. They can provide positive energy and also give blessings to everyone in a family.
Scientific Significance: Akshata has many scientific benefits as well. Once mixed with kumkum or turmeric paste inthey became more potent.
Both kumkum and turmeric have many health benefits. They have the ability to cure different ailments, as well. Akshata is known to attract positive energy and can aid us in improving our mind-body connections. The consumption of these unbroken rice grains and using them for prayers or pujas can give us positivity.
Why is unbroken rice used for Akshata?: Devotees use Akshata made from unbroken rice for several reasons. Broken rice pieces can reduce the power to attract positive energy from the deity. In Hinduism, wholeness is an essential factor for different rituals. Brokenness represents Tama's attitude, which can attract negative energies. Akshata is offered to a deity in its unity due to the same reason. When we give it as broken particles, it accepts Raja Tama, which can cause the person to suffer from negativity.
Types of Akshata offered to the deity: There are mainly two types of Akshata commonly used in the invocation of the deity. Red Akshata and white Akshata are the two types of Akshata used..
1. White Akshata - Devotees offer white Akshata to Lord Satyanarayan (Shri Vishnu) and Lord Shiva. They have the non-materialized or Nirgun principle and the savior energy or Tarak Shakti. They can attract waves of superior deity, which are subtler streams of power from the Universe.
2. Red Akshata - Devotees tint them with kumkum or vermilion. They are known to represent the materialized or Sagun principle and the destroyer energy or Marak Shakti. Devotees offer them to Shri Ganapati, Goddess Durga, and other deities. They can attract subtle streams of force from the Universe as well.
These are the two types of Akshatas used in pujas and rituals. Akshata, thus, is a source that worshippers can use in Upasanas, Pujas, and other auspicious religious occasions. Devotees place it below oil lamps or on the Aarati plate. They can retain their Chaitanya or Shakti for a long time. You can invoke the blessing of the deity with Askhata as an alternative for flowers.