Lakshmi is known as the Mother Goddess. She is
the master and commander of fortune, wealth, beauty, prosperity, abundance, and
Maya (or illusion, the force that
keeps incarnated beings from seeing the true nature of reality).
Lakshmi: Goddess of Peace, Prosperity, and Good Luck
The goddess (or Devi) is one of the most frequently depicted and worshiped of all
the Hindu deities. The colorful stories of her deeds and the exquisite art
reflecting her image are a phantasmagoria of endless pleasure.
Her influence has spread to religions across
the continent, beginning in Hinduism and entering Jainism and Buddhism. But it
is the Hindu version of Lakshmi that has made the most lasting and important
impression on the spiritual development of humanity.
To understand Lakshmi in all her infinite
variety, we must take a tour through many of the most powerful strains of Hindu
thought. And we must come to appreciate and recognize what is, perhaps, the
founding archetype of all human spirituality. When we take the time to do this,
Lakshmi acts as a portal to riches both material and immaterial, gold of the
earth and of the soul.
20" Goddess Lakshmi | Brass Goddess Lakshmi | Handmade | Made In India
Before we can grasp the full meaning of
Lakshmi, we must get to the source of her meaning. The Divine Mother acts as
the perfect entry point to read the symbolism and attributes of the goddess,
and it helps to generalize the idea of Lakshmi as a force in the world that
goes beyond anything that could be given a single name.
Across the known mythologies and religious
faiths — both alive and long-abandoned — the image of the Divine Mother recurs
in nearly all. She is the feminine force that gives birth to existence. This
spiritual impulse to worship the female who goes through the labor of
childbirth to produce all of creation has compelling psychological roots, as we
are all made and nurtured by a Mother.
But beyond psychology, it also has resonance
with our experience of the divine. The comfort, order, and serenity that
mystical events create in us feel as if all things come together as a Mother
to us, but such breakthroughs also give us the insight and bravery to mother
the world ourselves. In such ultimate care and love, we find it in our own
hearts to provide care and love. That is the essence of the Divine Mother.
Sometimes referred to as Mother Earth, this
archetype serves as a powerful reservoir of spiritual insight and comfort. The
goddess acts as an infinite source of tenderness, pleasure, and all the
fecundity of the natural world. Just as she creates, however, she can (and
sometimes will) take it away. It is here that she becomes the Devouring Mother
— alas, to be an image of the infinite, you must contain all.
The primordial creative spark and maker of
existence, Lakshmi is often referred to as the Divine Mother, sometimes
This framing helps us understand the many
realms that she is said to control across all the different versions of her
that appear in the various denominations of Hinduism and religions beyond. But
they all connect to this view of Lakshmi as a Divine Mother.
The Divine Glamour Of Devi Lakshmi
In the history of Hinduism, many sects have
held a place of reverence for Lakshmi in their pantheon, sometimes placing her
as the ultimate embodiment of god herself. Across three millennia, the
traditions and practices have no doubt changed, but today we have the result of
hundreds upon hundreds of generations. Their devotion to Lakshmi continues to
influence and guide us today.
Lakshmi is most commonly worshiped on Diwali —
a five-day festival of lights. The reasoning is clear. Diwali is a joyful,
ecstatic celebration heralding the victory of light over dark. Held in autumn,
it comes just before the Winter Solstice when the days finally begin to grow
lighter and lighter.
But it is not only about physical lightness
and darkness, nor only the literal length of the day. It goes much deeper —
light as a symbol of understanding, knowing, and being. Light is, across
virtually all cultures, a metaphor for spiritual wisdom and truth. And this
universal connection between the literal and figurative light lends Diwali its
special importance on the Hindu calendar.
Lakshmi, as a goddess of both material
abundance and wisdom, serves both purposes of Diwali. As the days lengthen, the
crops grow and there is plenty. But as spiritual light grows, we pull ourselves
deeper into the truths of Lakshmi.
Puja (or prayers) during Diwali are mostly made directly to Lakshmi, and
celebrants often get in the spirit through shopping — tasting some of that
prosperity that Lakshmi rules over.
Lakshmi is also worshiped during the harvest
festival of Gaja Lakshmi Puja, which comes at the end of the monsoon season. As
the divine mother, the goddess is seen as the ultimate source for the harvest
itself. And again, many Hindus worship Lakshmi during the first week of the new
For year-round worship, many great temples
have been erected with idols of Lakshmi inside. Here, devotees may come into
direct contact with the goddess and make offerings. Because she is such an
ancient deity, there is no shortage of hymns, songs, and prayers to exalt the
great and powerful Lakshmi once inside her temple.
Beyond these general celebrations, there are
major denominations of Hinduism that place special significance on Lakshmi.
Though countless sects have their own variations on the goddess, perhaps the
most important to understand are Shaktism and Vaishnavism.
Shri Mahalakshmi Kubera Yantra (Yantra For Good Luck, Money, Wealth, Prosperity and Good Fortune)
Shaktism and Lakshmi
Shaktism is a form of Hinduism that depicts
the higher, metaphysical reality of a woman. Shakti is the godhead — the all-powerful feminine force that pervades all levels of existence. In this
venerable religious tradition, entire hosts of goddesses are used to describe
different aspects of the one Shakti. And so for believers, Lakshmi is an
all-important element of the Mother goddess.
The tradition of Shaktism in India helped to
develop the esoteric, occult practices and doctrines of Tantra — one of the
most profound spiritual disciplines ever created on earth. That legacy has
enshrined Lakshmi as a central deity for many Tantric practitioners.
Due to the historic importance of the
denomination, and its continued popularity around the world, Lakshmi’s
prominent role in Shaktism is critical for understanding how this goddess rose
to such auspicious heights in Hinduism.
So then, how does Shaktism portray this
goddess of abundance?
For many in the denomination and beyond, there
is the central idea of the Tridevi — a feminine form of the Trimurti. While the
Trimurti is made up of Brahma (creator), Vishnu
(preserver), and Shiva (Destroyer), the Tridevi gives each role
to a goddess. Here, the duties are taken up by Saraswati (creator), Lakshmi
(preserver), and Parvati (Destroyer).
In many other denominations, this Tiidevi is
seen as a kind of “lower” reflection of the Trimurti that provides assistance,
as it is made up of the wives of the three gods. But for Shaktism, the Tridevi
is the central force of creation.
Here we can see the infinite variation inside
Hinduism. There is no “one” set of beliefs, there is instead a vast
kaleidoscope of perspectives, everyone adding to the whole and helping us see,
with our mortal eyes, how endlessly magnificent reality is.
Vishnu-Lakshmi On The Shoulders Of Lord Garuda
Yet another major Hindu tradition upholds
Lakshmi as a vital element of all creation. Vaishnavism views Vishnu as the
true, ultimate god of all. Lakshmi works as his consort and source of divine
energy, giving her a prominent role for adherents.
In Vaishnavism, Lakshmi’s power is deeply
intertwined in every aspect of Vishnu as he creates, supports, and destroys the
universe across infinite cycles of becoming and undoing. This view of Lakshmi
as a source of creation gives her the title Mahadevi
— the divine mother, as we discussed above.
Because Vaishnavism is by far the largest
Hindu sect in India, its influence is unparalleled. That it upholds Lakshmi as
such a dominant force in the universe attests to her importance in human
Vishnu’s presence in almost all forms of
Hinduism is always accompanied by his wife Lakshmi. So this relationship goes
beyond even the enormous scope of Vaishnavism.
It is interesting, then, to consider the
couple as two sides of this single force. You have the feminine Lakshmi and the
masculine Vishnu, working together in concert to continuously make, destroy,
and remake all things, even being itself.
Goddess Lakshmi Seated on Lotus Tanjore Painting | Traditional Colors With 24K Gold
In the iconography of Hinduism, Lakshmi is
often depicted on a lotus, while also carrying a lotus in her hand. The lotus
is a potent link to the nature of the goddess, as it grows out of the water, no
matter if it is filthy or pristine. What a beautiful flower can be created no
matter the conditions points to our own ability to liberate our souls even
though we find ourselves in an all-too flawed world.
Lakshmi is robed in a red dress with gold
thread, signs of the wealth that pours from her being. For animal companions,
the goddess is typically shown beset by elephants, who are strong and bring
abundance, and at times her familiar is the owl, who is the seeker of wisdom in
She is often depicted with eighteen hands that
hold several items, including:
Her visage implies knowledge and
self-realization. She is a sign of moksha or liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. In the grand Tantric
tradition, Lakshmi’s is used as an image of karma, true reality, and
consciousness as a force in the universe.
This iconography has developed since at least
the first millennium BCE, based on archaeological evidence. That makes her one
of the oldest gods or goddesses still worshipped today. That long legacy of
devotion has carefully crafted the image of Lakshmi that we have.
While there is nowhere near room to describe
all the tales of Lakshmi, one of the most beautiful and colourful is the story
of her birth. There is, as with all ancient tales, an endless variety of
accounts, but the following is fairly common.
The story of Lakshmi’s birth begins with the
gods (devas) and demons (asuras). They were yet still mortal and
sought Amrita, which is the nectar of immortality. To gain it, they churned the
Ocean of Milk (Kshirasagar) using an
enormous mountain. Vishnu helped by morphing into a tortoise so that the
mountain could turn on top of his mighty shell.
As they churned, they continued to produce
great and noble things. And eventually, Lakshmi emerged from the ocean of milk
carrying a lotus in her hand. With her, she brought many boons, including
Amrita, the nectar that the gods and demons wanted so badly.
It was at that point that all the history of
the universe turned. Would she grant immortality to the gods or the demons?
Lakshmi chose to give the nectar of
immortality to the gods. And among them, she chose Vishnu as her husband.
Shri Maha Lakshmi Yantarm (For Worship of Lakshmi ji)
There are some things in life that are truly
good, such as material wealth. But abundance alone can endanger our souls. We
must not become corrupted or overly tempted by acquisition. Thus, as incarnate
beings, we both want this prosperity and must discipline ourselves against its
Lakshmi grants us the keys to understanding how
to do this. She is not only a route to money and fine things, she is also the
bearer of spiritual treasure. This is why it is Lakshmi who brought the nectar
As the Divine Mother, Lakshmi gives us the
milk that we need to live. And she gives us the wisdom to mature into our
independence. It is through this goddess that we both have and understand how
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