Goddess Lakshmi is venerated as both the embodiment of, and also as bestower of prosperity. There are many instructive legends behind her origin. The most popular one, as delineated in the Srimad Bhagavatam, speaks of her having emerged from the ocean when it was being churned for the nectar of immortality (amrit). When she emerged from the ocean, goddess Lakshmi selected Lord Vishnu as the spouse worthy of her. Thus in her representations, the goddess is often shown with Lord Vishnu
does not represent ‘money’ in its literal sense. Actually, she denotes a prosperity which both sustains and nourishes itself, i.e. she symbolizes wealth attained through Dharma, and not through Adharma. Dharma here refers to action as prescribed in the Vedic scriptures, whereby the wealth attained is extremely pure. This is one of the reasons why she is worshipped alongside Lord Ganesha on the festival of Diwali, with the latter signifying an obstacle free life, and she representing the boon of bounty.
The textual description of Goddess Lakshmi starts with the Rig Veda
itself, which is the earliest text in the world. Here, the goddess is described in the famous collection of hymns known as the ‘Shri Sukta’, Shri being another name for goddess Lakshmi. The Upanishads too venerate her, with the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad asking one to identify one’s wife as the goddess Shri. However, it is the numerous Puranas
which describe the goddess in popular detail, making her one of the most famous goddesses of India.
Traditionally her images show the goddess Lakshmi seated on a lotus. Not only that, she also holds lotuses in two of her hand, giving her the epithet of ‘Padmavati
’. This symbolizes her pure nature. Often two elephants may also be seen bathing her with auspicious waters. Additionally sometimes, she may be shown raining a shower of coins from one of her palms. This obviously denotes her status as the ‘Supreme Deity of Wealth.’
Lakshmi - Goddess of Wealth & Prosperity
As has a myth in Vishnu Purana
, Lakshmi was re-born on the earth as the daughter of sage Bhragu, the son of Brahman. Her mother was Khyati, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati. After a period of time she was married to Narayana, an incarnation of Vishnu. She had by Narayana two sons, named Bala and Unmada. Brahmavaivarta Purana attributes her origin to Vishnu. As acclaimed, Lakshmi was born out of Vishnu’s right half, while from his left half was born Radha, Lakshmi’s another incarnation. In Vishnu’s Ardhanarishvara images, which are very rare, Lakshmi is represented as comprising Vishnu’s left half – a visual manifestation of the Brahmavaivarta Purana
myth. Read more...
Hindu Goddesses - Lakshmi and Saraswati
A few texts say that Lakshmi is the wife of Dharma. She and several other goddesses, all of whom are personifications of certain auspicious qualities, are said to have been given to Dharma in marriage. This association seems primarily to represent a thinly disguised “wedding” of Dharma (virtuous conduct) with Lakshmi (prosperity and well-being). The point of the association seems to be to teach that by performing Dharma one obtains prosperity. Read more...
Books on Goddess Lakshmi