Have you ever heard of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi? Take a comfy seat, a beverage and let me introduce you to her.
Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess whose attributes are many. Wealth, not just in coin, but also spiritual wealth. Fortune, compassion, charity and giving. She also represents beauty, not always of the physical but the beauty of nature and in the thoughts, we have. She shows courage, great strength, well-being and a sign of future success.
Lakshmi is part of the three-principal deities/goddesses of Hinduism: Parvati consort to god Shiva (the Destroyer); Lakshmi consort to Vishnu (the Sustainer) and Sarasvati consort to Brahma (the Creator).
In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband is the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings.
Lakshmi is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, property-showering golden-coloured woman with an owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness. She typically stands or sits like a Yogi on a lotus flower pedestal and holds lotus in her hand, a symbolism for fortune, self-knowledge and spiritual liberation. Her iconography shows her with four hands, which represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life. Those being dharma (pursuit of ethical, moral life), karma (pursuit of love, and emotional fulfil), artha (pursuit of wealth, means of life), and mok (pursuit of self-knowledge, liberation).
When Lord Vishnu stirred the ocean of milk for Indra, King of the gods, he was trying to make a magic potion that would bestow eternal life. As he stirred, many wonderful things came out of the ocean, including a wishing cow and tree, an elephant, a white horse and matchless jewels. The most beautiful thing that came out of the ocean was the Goddess Lakshmi.
Lord Vishnu created Lakshmi from the ocean of milk. She emerged sitting on a Lotus flower. She is often called “Padma – lotus lover” because of this Lakshmi immediately announced that her place was right next to Vishnu's heart. Vishnu and Lakshmi got married and soon after had a son. They named him Kama, God of Romantic love.
Vishnu requires material abundance to carry out his various duties and to preserve and protect creation. Hence, Lakshmi is always found in his company. On the human plane, similar duties are assigned to householders. Hence, householders have a duty and obligation to earn wealth to maintain dharma upon the earth.
In Hinduism, worship of Lakshmi is considered a suitable remedy for the alleviation of suffering. The regular chanting of her name, remembering her in bringing good luck and prosperity to people is a reminder to be humble yet prosperous. As the Goddess of Wealth - Lakshmi rightfully fulfils her duties as the nourisher, preserver and provider.
I hope you enjoyed this introduction of Lakshmi. I will be continuing blogs of other Hindu Gods/Goddesses in future.
Image - Raja Ravi Varma's Gaja Lakshmi