Lakshmi (Goddess)

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Lakshmi
Lakshmi

Lakshmi or Mahalaxmi (Sanskrit: लक्ष्मी lakṣmī) is the Hindu goddess of wealth, light, wisdom, the lotus flower and fortune, and secondarily of luck, beauty, courage and fertility. Representations of Lakshmi (or Shri) are found in Jain and Buddhist monuments, in addition to Hindu temples. She is also kind to children and gives presents. Due to Her Motherly feelings and being the consort of Narayan (Supreme Being), She is believed as the Mother of the Universe.

She is the consort of Vishnu and married his incarnations Rama (in her incarnation as Sita), Krishna (as Rukmini) and Venkateshwara (as Alamelu). In Vaishnava traditions, She is believed to be the Mother Goddess and the Shakti of Narayan.

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[edit] Legends

The appearance of goddess Lakshmi is related to an ancient story. Durvasa the short-tempered sage once presented Indra, the king of the gods (devas) with a garland of flowers which would never wilt. Indra gave this garland to his elephant Airavata. Sage Durvasa saw the elephant trampling the divine garland and cursed Indra, for he had shown disrespect to the sage. The sage cursed Indra that he and all the gods would lose their power because it had made them so proud and vain. Due to the curse, the demons vanquished the gods out of the heavens.

The defeated gods then went to seek refuge to the Creator Lord Brahma who asked them to churn the ocean of milk, Ksheersagar, to obtain the nectar of immortality. The gods then went to Lord Vishnu, to seek his assistance. Lord Vishnu took the Avatar Kurma (Tortoise) and supported the Manthara Parvata (mountain) as a churning rod, while the king of the serpents, Vasuki, became the churning rope. The gods and the demons (under the leadership of the pious and wise King Bali Chakravarti) both helped each other in churning the ocean of milk.

Amongst the host of divine gifts which appeared from the ocean, goddess Lakshmi appeared and then chose Shri Vishnu as her consort, as only He had the power to control Maya (illusion). Because of this, Lakshmi is also called the daughter of the sea; since the moon also appeared from the ocean during the churning, the moon is called her brother. Alakshmi, the goddess of misfortune, is Lakshmi's older sister. She is said to have also arisen from the sea of milk. According to the Vishnu Purana, Lakshmi is the daughter of Bhrigu and Khyaati and resided in Swarga but due to the curse of Durvasa, she left Swarga and made Ksheersagara her home. The reappearance of Lakshmi after Samudra manthan and her marriage to Vishnu thereafter, remain the same. Laxmi is the power and Maya of Lord Vishnu. In some places She is seen in two forms, Bhudevi and Sridevi, both either side of Vishnu. Bhudevi is the fertility form in which She is Mother Earth. Sridevi is the wealth and knowledge of Her which is seen with Narayan. Most people are mistaken that they are separate beings although they are one, Laxmi.

[edit] Epithets

Lakshmi has many names. She is known to be very closely associated with the Lotus, and her many epithets are connected to the flower, such as:

  • Padma: lotus dweller.
  • Kamala: lotus dweller.
  • Padmapriya: One who likes lotuses
  • Padmamaladhara devi: One who wears a garland of lotuses
  • Padmamukhi: One whose face is as beautiful as a lotus
  • Padmakshi: One whose eyes are as beautiful as a lotus
  • Padmahasta: One who holds a lotus
  • Padmasundari: One who is as beautiful as a lotus

Her other names include:

  • Bhargavi: One who is the incarnation of the daughter of Sage Bhrigu
  • Sridevi: Goddess of wealth
  • Chanchala: One who is fickle and does not stay at one place
  • Bhumi Devi: Earth goddess
  • Indira: Beautiful goddess
  • Rama devi/Vaishnavi: Wife of Vishnu
  • Jalaja: Born from sea.
  • Aiswarya: Wealthy.
  • Adilakshmi: The beginning

[edit] Iconography

[edit] Sculpture of Lakshmi

Physically, goddess Lakshmi is described as a fair lady, with four arms, seated on a lotus, dressed in fine garments and precious jewels. Her expression is always calm and loving. The most striking feature of the iconography of Lakshmi is her persistent association with the lotus. The meaning of the lotus in relation to Shri-Lakshmi refers to purity and spiritual power. Rooted in the mud but blossoming above the water, completely uncontaminated by the mud, the lotus represents spiritual perfection and authority. Furthermore, the lotus seat is a common motif in Hindu iconography.

Goddess Lakshmi's traditionally accepted vehicle, the owl (Ulooka in Sanskrit), is a bird that sleeps through the day and prowls through the night.

[edit] Celebration in Hindu society

Hindus worship Lakshmi the most on Diwali, the festival of lights. According to tradition people would put small oil lamps outside their homes on Diwali and hope Lakshmi will come to bless them.

The prefix Sri (also spelled as Shri, pronounced as shree) renders as 'one who takes delight in Sri' Lakshmi, meaning wealth, wealth of any kind. Primarily eight kinds of wealth are established, associated with goddess Lakshmi. They are:1) आदि लक्ष्मी Ādi Lakṣmī [The main goddess] 2) धान्य लक्ष्मी Dhānya Lakṣmī [Granary wealth] 3) धैर्य लक्ष्मी Dhairya Lakṣmī [Wealth of courage] 4) गज लक्ष्मी Gaja Lakṣmī [Elephants, symbols of wealth] 5) सन्तान लक्ष्मी Santāna Lakṣmī [Wealth of progeny] 6) विजय लक्ष्मी Vijaya Lakṣmī [Wealth of victory] 7) विद्या लक्ष्मी Vidyā Lakṣmī [Wealth of knowledge] 8) धन लक्ष्मी Dhana Lakṣmī [Monetary wealth]


Any thing that need be affluent gets the auspicious prefix or suffix 'Lakshmi', or 'Sri' like Rajya Lakshmi (Wealth of Empire), Shanti Sri (Wealth of Peace), etc. In modern India, common titles standing in for the English Mr. and Mrs. are Shri (also Sri or Shree) and Shrimati (also Srimati or Shreemati), as in "Sri Gupta" or "Srimati Mangeshkar".

Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped by those who wish to acquire or to preserve wealth. It is believed that Lakshmi (wealth) goes only to those houses which are clean and where the people are hardworking. She does not visit the places which are unclean/dirty or where the people are lazy.

In Uttarakhand, after the worship of the goddess on Diwali night, the Shankh or Conch is not blown. This is because the shank is also from the ocean like the goddess herself, so it is given a day of rest.

Laxmi is the patron goddess of Kolhapur city, Maharashtra.

[edit] Worship

Two of the most famous prayers for worshipping Ma Lakshmi are: Sri Lakshmi Stuti By Indra and Sri Sukta. There is another famous prayer pronounced by the great sage Agasti: Agasti Lakshmi Strota

[edit] Temples

Ashta Lakshmi Temples, Chennai and Hyderabad.





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