Lakshmi - The Goddess Of Wealth

lakshmi devi

 

Goddess Lakshmi is one of the most revered deities in Hinduism, and is the Goddess of Wealth, prosperity, and abundance. 

She bestows her blessings on her devotees with riches, success, and fortune. 

Goddess Lakshmi is the consort of Lord Vishnu, and is regarded as the embodiment of divine feminine energy. 

The significance of the goddess lies in her association with wealth, which is seen as an essential aspect of life, necessary for the maintenance of order, harmony, and prosperity.

Her divine presence is invoked through prayers and rituals, seeking her blessings for material and spiritual wealth, success, and happiness in life.

 

Origin of Goddess Lakshmi

Goddess Lakshmi was born during the churning of the ocean of milk.

This event was a joint effort between the Devas and Asuras to obtain Amrita, the elixir of immortality.

As the churning began, a number of precious items emerged from the ocean, including Kamadhenu, the wish-fulfilling cow, and the Kalpavriksha, the wish-granting tree. 

Finally, Goddess Lakshmi appeared, seated on a lotus flower and holding a lotus in her hand.

The Devas recognized her as the goddess of wealth and prosperity. 

Lord Vishnu accepted her as his consort and gave her a place on his chest.

 

Meaning of Lakshmi

The name Lakshmi is derived from the root लक्ष्.

It means that she has manifested all the animate and inanimate beings of the world.

It also means that she is constantly watching over and evaluating them.

Another meaning is that she adorns Sri Hari's body.

 

Lakshmi can be connected to the roots ला and क्षिप् also.

In that sense, Lakshmi means the provider and one who stimulates the mind, speech, and body.

She only is the prompt behind creation, sustenance, and elimination of the universe.

She destroys the sins of good people.

She pardons everyone.

Kindness is in her very nature.

 

Lakshmi and Vishnu

Lakshmi is the feminine power of Vishnu.

Lakhmi is Shakti and Vishnu is Shaktiman.

Lakshmi is the action in Vishnu.

They are inseparable.

Lakshmi can not exist without Vishnu.

Vishnu can not exist without Lakshmi.

They are together called Parabrahma.

Their likes, dislikes, thoughts, etc. are identical.

You can not understand Vishnu, if you don't understand Lakshmi first.

 

Lakshmi Devi in Mahabharata

A conversation between Indra and Lakshmi Devi reveals several important aspects of her.

The context is when Lakshmi left Bali Chakravarthy and went towards Indra.

  • Not even Brahma can keep her at one place.
  • It is Kala or Time that moves her from place to place.
  • She lives where there is honesty, knowledge, discretion, self-control, courage, and generosity.
  • When people turn away from these qualities, she leaves them.
  • Lakshmi doesn't stay for long with people who use harsh words to hurt others.
  • No single divinity or entity can bear her entire weight. Hence she is supported by four entities: earth, water, fire, and noble men.

 

Ashta Lakshmi

They are 8 forms of Mahalakshmi connected to the different aspects of human life. 

  1. Dhanalakshmi - goddess of wealth
  2. Dhanyalakshmi - goddess of grains
  3. Dhairyalakshmi - goddess of boldness
  4. Sauryalakshmi - goddess of bravery
  5. Vidyalakshmi - goddess of knowledge
  6. Kirtilakshmi - goddess of fame
  7. Vijayalakshmi - goddess of victory
  8. Rajyalakshmi - goddess of rulership

Some systems consider Santanalakshmi, the goddess of progeny in the place of Rajyalakshmi.

They are all manifestations of Mahalakshmi.

 

Iconography of Goddess Lakshmi

 

 

In the most popular representation, Goddess Lakshmi has four hands.

The lower hands are held in abhaya (shelter) and varada (blessing) mudras.

Each of the upper hands holds a lotus.

She is seated on a lotus.

On each side stands a white elephant.

Those elephants are watering the lotus flowers in Devi's hands with pots held with their trunks.

Her body is golden in color.

She is wearing invaluable ornaments.

She is also wearing kumkuma on her forehead.

 

How Indra praised Lakshmi Devi

I bow down to Sri, the mother of all beings, seated on her lotus throne, with eyes like full-blown lotuses, reclining on the chest of Vishnu. 

You are Siddhi, superhuman power.

You are Svadha and Svaha, it is through you that Pitrus and Devas receive food.

You are amrita, you impart immortality.

You are the purifier of the universe.

Day, evening, night, and dawn are you.

You are power, faith, and intellect.

You are the goddess of letters.

You are beautiful.

You are knowledge of devotion, mystic knowledge, and spiritual knowledge.

You are only knowledge that confers liberation.

You are the science of reasoning, the Vedas, the arts and science.

You are dharma shastra and neeti shastra.

The world is populated by you with pleasing and displeasing forms. 

Who other than you  goddess, can occupy the heart of that Parama Purusha, the wielder of the mace, who is yajna itself, and who is contemplated by Sages?

Abandoned by you, the three worlds were on the brink of ruin.

But they have been reactivated by you.

From your propitious glance, oh mighty goddess, men obtain wives, children, dwellings, friends, harvests, wealth. 

Health, strength, power, victory, and happiness are easily attained by those upon whom you smile.

You are the mother of all beings, as the god of gods, Sri Hari, is their father.

And this world, whether animate or inanimate, is pervaded by you and Vishnu. 

Please don't forsake  our treasures, our granaries, our dwellings, our dependents, our persons, our wives,  our children, our friends, our lineage, our jewels.

You are seated on the bosom of the God of Gods. 

You desert only those who have turned away from truth, purity, and goodness.

Those who you look at favorably become immediately endowed with all excellent qualities, with families, and with power. 

He who receives your blessings becomes  honorable, amiable, prosperous, wise, of exalted birth, and a hero of irresistible prowess; but all his merits and his advantages are converted into worthlessness, if you, the mother of the world,  turn your face away from him. 

Even Brahma can not sufficiently praise you.

Be pleased with me, oh lotus-eyed goddess, and never forsake me.

 

Lakshmi and Sri Suktam

Sri Suktam which is part of Rigveda reveals several characteristics of Goddess Lakshmi.

  • Lakshmi Devi grants all wishes.
  • She satisfies each and every requirement of feminine beauty.
  • Her brilliance is radiating.
  • She removes all sins.
  • Lakshmi Devi wears ornaments made of gold and silver.
  • It is only if Sri Hari blesses, she will come to us.
  • Looking at her beautiful form itself gives happiness.
  • She gives happiness to those burning in the three kinds of miseries - adhyatmika, adhibhautika, and adhidaivika.
  • Wealth science is called Padmini-Vidya in Sanskrit; Lakshmi is the governing goddess of this vidya.
  • She has all kinds of wealth in abundance with her.
  • She gives wealth with her left hand.
  • All kinds of wealth are under her command such as gold, cattlefolk, vehicles, and servants.
  • Her attire,ornaments, and beauty point towards prosperity.
  • Wherever she is present, that place will have a look of abundance and aesthetics.
  • Lakshmi by nature will not stay with someone for long unless he has great qualities.
  • She is omnipresent.
  • Lakshmi Devi only heard the cries of Gajendra and requested Sri Hari to intervene.
  • We are all toys in her hand; when she amuses herself with these toys, wealth is created.
  • Lakshmi is the source of Vishnu's ananda.
  • She sits on a Mani-mandapa whose walls are made of gem-studded gold.
  • She is as brilliant as a thousand Suns.
  • Her beauty is as if a thousand Moons have risen in the sky together.
  • She is always satisfied.
  • She sometimes has the color of lotus.
  • The glory of her name has spread all over the world.
  • She is the shelter for everyone.
  • Even Devas depend on her.
  • She is generous even to them.
  • She destroys Alakshmi (poverty).
  • The Vilwa tree was born from the tapas of Lakshmi Devi.
  • Vilwa fruit represents Lakshmi Devi.
  • Honoring Vilwa fruits and worshiping Lakshmi Devi with them shall remove all obstacles.
  • Alakshmi resides in places that are unclean.
  • Formal worship (bahya puja) is necessary to get the blessings of Lakshmi.
  • She can be accessed only through the prescribed methods of worship.
  • She alone prompts you to perform noble deeds.
  • Lakshmi Devi is fond of the freshly plowed mud in the fields.
  • Kardama (clay represents Kardama Prajapati) is her foster father. Fertile fields is where she grew up.
  • She fulfills even desires unasked for.
  • Chikleeta is the name of her bodyguard.
  • Rose is a flower favorite to her.
  • She wears a garland of lotuses.

 

The antiquity of Lakshmi worship

Lakshmi (Sri) had been an important Goddess right from the Vedic times.

Many references about her can be found in the Vedic corpus.

 

सक्तुमिव तितउना पुनन्तो यत्र धीरा मनसा वाचमक्रत ।

अत्रा सखायः सख्यानि जानते भद्रैषां लक्ष्मीर्निहिताधि वाचि ॥ Rigveda.10.71.2

The Vedic people attributed their success to Lakshmi.

 

Goddess Lakshmi is described as very beautiful.

Several references of connection between 'Sri' and beauty can be seen in the Rigveda.

  • श्रियसे कं भानुभिः सं मिमिक्षिरे - Rigveda.1.87.6 - She is as beautiful as rain falling through sunlight.
  • स्पार्हा यस्य श्रियो दृशे - Rigveda.7.15.5 - Lakshmi is good fortune, well-being, magnificence, glory, and beauty.
  • दृ॒शा॒नो रु॒क्म उ॑र्वि॒या व्य॑द्यौद्दु॒र्मर्ष॒मायु॑: श्रि॒ये रु॑चा॒नः । - Rigveda.1.87.6 - She is glorious.
  • त्वम॑ग्ने॒ सुभृ॑त उत्त॒मं वय॒स्तव॑ स्पा॒र्हे वर्ण॒ आ सं॒दृशि॒ श्रिय॑: - Rigveda.2.1.12 - You are beauties abound, you are wealth.
  •  श्रि॒ये रु॒क्मो न रो॑चत उपा॒के - Rigveda.4.10.5 - You have beautiful radiance like an ornament.

 

According to Taittiriya Upanishad -

 वासांसि मम गावश्च। अन्नपाने च सर्वदा। ततो मे श्रियमावह। - 'Sri' is the source of dwelling places, cows, food, and drink.

In Baudhayana Dharma Sutra, you can find 'श्रियं देवीं तर्पयामि' - I am propitiating Sri Devi.

In the Mahabharata Goddess Lakshmi describes herself - 'I am success, steadfast, prosperity. I dwell in victorious kings.'

She is the Goddess of both luck and fortune.

She is happiness personified.

Who are the incarnations of Goddess Lakshmi?

Seetha Devi, wife of Lord Rama and Rukmini Devi, wife of Lord Krishna are incarnations of Lakshmi.

What is the relationship between Lakshmi and Kubera?

Both Lakshmi Devi and Kubera are deities of wealth. While Lakshmi Devi provides wealth, Kubera protects wealth that is already there.

Quiz

Who is Lakshmi Devi to Kamadeva?
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