Goddess Lakshmi
Goddess Lakshmi Devi
Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. The word ''Lakshmi'' is derived from the Sanskrit word Laksme, meaning "goal." Lakshmi, therefore, represents the goal of life, which includes worldly as well as spiritual prosperity. In Hindu mythology, Goddess Lakshmi, also called Shri, is the divine spouse of Lord Vishnu and provides Him with wealth for the maintenance and preservation of the creation.

In Her images and pictures, Lakshmi is depicted in a female form with four arms and four hands. She wears red clothes with a golden lining and is standing on a lotus. She has golden coins and lotuses in her hands. Two elephants (some pictures show four) are shown next to the Goddess. This symbolism conveys the following spiritual theme:
  • The four arms represent the four directions in space and thus symbolize omnipresence and omnipotence of the Goddess. The red color syinbolizes activity. The golden lining (embroidery) on Her red dress denotes prosperity. The idea conveyed here is that the Goddess is always busy distributing wealth and prosperity to the devotees. The lotus seat, which Lakshmi is standing upon, signifies that while living in this world, one should enjoy its wealth, but not become obsessed with it. Such a living is analogous to a lotus that grows in water but is not wetted by water.
  • The four hands represent the four ends of human life: dharma (righteousness), kama (genuine desires), artha (wealth), and moksha (liberation from birth and death). The front hands represent the activity in the physical world and the back hands indicate the spiritual activities that lead to spiritual perfection.
  • Since the right side of the body symbolizes activity, a lotus in the back right hand conveys the idea that one must perform all duties in the world in accordance with dharma. This leads to moksha (liberation), which is symbolized by a lotus in the back left hand of Lakshmi. The golden coins falling on the ground from the front left hand of Lakshmi illustrate that She provides wealth and prosperity to Her devotees. Her front right hand is shown bestowing blessings upon the devotees.
  • The two elephants standing next to the Goddess symbolize the name and fame associated with worldly wealth. The idea conveyed here is that a true devotee should not earn wealth merely to acquire name and fame or only to satisfy his own material desires, but should share it with others in order to bring happiness to others in addition to himself.
  • Some pictures show four elephants spraying water from golden vessels onto Goddess Lakshmi. The four elephants represent the four ends of human life as discussed above. The spraying of water denotes activity. The golden vessels denote wisdom and purity. The four elephants spraying water from the golden vessels on the Goddess illustrate the theme that continuous self-effort, in accordance with one's dharma and govemed by wisdom and purity, leads to both material and spiritual prosperity.
Goddess Lakshmi is regularly worshipped in home shrines and temples by Her devotees. A special worship is offered to Her annually on the auspicious day of Diwali, with religious rituals and colorful ceremonies specifically devoted to Her. 

For obvious reasons, Lak~mI, the goddess of fortune, is more sought after than SarasvatI, the goddess of learning. Being the power and consort of Vi~Qu, the preserver, she is
represented as the power of multiplicity and the goddess of fortune, both of which are equally necessary in the process of preservation.

'SrI' or 'Lak~ml', as depicted in the Vedas, is the goddess of wealth and fortune, power and beauty. Though there is scope for the supposition that SrI and Lak~mI are two separate deities, the descriptions of them are so identi¬cal, that we are tempted to conclude that they represent one and the same deity. Some scholars opine that 'SrI' was a pre-Vedic deity connected with fertility, water and agricul¬ture. She was later fused with Lak~mI, the Vedic goddess of beauty.

In her first incarnation, according to the PuraQas, she was the daughter of the sage Bhrgu and his wife Khyati.

She was later born out of the ocean of milk at the time of its churning. She, being the consort of Vi~l).u, is born as his spouse whenever he incarnates. When he appeared as Vamana, Parasurama, Rama and Kr~l).a, she appeared as Padma (or Kamala), Dharal).l, SUa and Rukmil).l. She is as inseparable from Vi~l).u as speech from meaning or knowledge from intellect, or good deeds from righteous-ness. He represents all that is masculine, and she, all that is feminine.

Lak~~l is usually described as enchantingly beautiful and standing on a lotus, and holding lotuses in each of her two hands. It is because of this, perhaps, that she is named as Padma or Kamala. She is also adorned with a lotus garland. Very often elephants are shown on either side, emptying pitchers of water over her, the pitchers being presented by celestial maidens. Her colour is vari¬ously described as dark, pink, golden yellow or white. While in the company of Vi~l).u, she is shown with two hands only. When worshipped in a temple-separate temples for Lak~ml are rather rare-she is shown seated on a lotus throne, with four hands holding Padma, Sankha, Amrtakalasa (pot of ambrosia) and Bilva fruit. Sometimes, another kind of fruit, the Mahaliilga (a citron) is shown instead of Bilva. When shown with eight hands, bow and arrow, mace and discus are added. This is actually the Mahalak~ml, an aspect of Durga.

We can now attempt an explanation that is behind this highly symbolical picture. If Lak~ml is pictured as dark in complexion, it is to show that she is the consort of Vi~l).u, the dark god. If golden yellow, that shows her as the source of all wealth. If white, she represents the purest form of

Pralqti (nature) from which the universe had developed. The pinkish complexion, which is more common, reflects her compassion for creatures, since she is the mother of all.
Her four hands signify her power to grant the four Puru~arthas (ends of human life), Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (pleasures of the flesh), and Mok~a (beatitude ).

The lotuses, in various stages of blooming, represent the worlds and beings in various stages of evolution.

The fruit stands for the fruits of our labours. How-ever- much we may toil and labour, unless the Mother is gracious enough to grant the fruits of our labour, nothing will be of any avail. If the fruit is a coconut-with its shell, kernel and water-it means that from her originate the three levels of creation, the gross, the subtle and the extremely subtle. If it is a pomegranate or a citron, it signi¬fies that the various created worlds are under her control and that she transcends them all. If it is a bilva fruit¬which, incidentally, is not very tasty or attractive, but which is extremely good for health-it stands for Mok~a,the highest fruit of spiritual life.

Am~takalasa also signifies the same thing, viz., that she can give us the bliss of immortality.

In some of the sculptural depictions of Lak~ml, the owl is shown as her carrier-vehicle. It looks rather odd and strange that the goddess of fortune and beauty should have an ugly bird, the very sight of which is considered inauspicious, as her carrier! Once the symbolical significance of this oddity is unravelled, we will be in a better position to appreciate the poor bird and its compassionate mistress!

The word is Sanskrit for the owl is Uluka. Uluka is also one of the names of Indra, the king of gods! Hence Lak~m! being the goddess of fortune could not have found a better person to ride on, than the king of gods, who personifies all the wealth, power and glory that a living being can aspire for in life. At the same time, here is a warning administered to the seekers of secular wealth, instead of spiritual wealth, by comparing even the glory of Indra to the ugliness of an inelegant and partially blind bird.

Based on the beautiful description given in the Bhagavadgita (2.69) we can be generous enough to com¬pare our owl to the Sthitaprajiia, the man of steady wisdom. Then, the symbol would mean that Mother Lak~m! is the mistress of spiritual wisdom. If we are not so generous, then, we can learn a lesson from it in another way, viz., 'Do not shut out your eyes to the light of wisdom coming from the sun of knowledge!' Out of consideration for man¬kind, the all-compassionate Mother has kept this personification of ignorance under her control.

GODDESS LAKSHMI MANTRA :- 
* 'Avidyaya m~tyuriJ. tirtva vidyayam~tamasnute'.
         
              :: 90 NAMES OF GODDESS LAKSHMI ::

  1. Aditi 
  2. Ahladajanani
  3. Amrutha
  4. Anagha
  5. Ashoka
  6. Bhaskari
  7. Bhuvaneshwari
  8. Bilvanilaya
  9. Buddhi
  10. Chanda
  11. Chandrarupa
  12. Chandrasahodari
  13. Chandravadana
  14. Chaturbhuja
  15. Daridriya Dhwamsini
  16. Daridriyanashini
  17. Deepa
  18. Deepta
  19. Deetya
  20. Devi
  21. Dhanadhanyaki
  22. Dhanya
  23. Harini
  24. Harivallabhi
  25. Hemamalini
  26. Hiranmayi
  27. Hiranyaprakai
  28. Hymavathy
  29. Indira
  30. Indusheetala
  31. Jaya
  32. Kamakshi
  33. Kamala
  34. Kamalasambhava
  35. Kantha
  36. Karuna
  37. Lakashokavinashini
  38. Lakshmi
  39. Lokamatri
  40. Mahalakshmi
  41. Navadurga
  42. NityaPushta
  43. Padmahasta
  44. Padmakshya
  45. Padmamaladhara
  46. Padmamukhi
  47. Padmanabhapriya
  48. Padmapriya
  49. Padmasundari
  50. Padmini
  51. Padmodbhava
  52. Paramatmika
  53. Prabha
  54. Prakruti
  55. Prasadabhimukhi
  56. Prasannakshi
  57. Pushti
  58. Ramaa
  59. Sanghavi
  60. Sanvi
  61. Samudratanaya
  62. Sarvapadravanivarini
  63. Satya
  64. Shiva
  65. Shivakari
  66. Shraddha
  67. Shubha
  68. Shubhaprada
  69. Shuchi
  70. Siddhi
  71. Straina Soumya
  72. Sudha
  73. Swaha
  74. Udaranga
  75. Vachi
  76. Varalakshmi
  77. Vararoha
  78. Vasudha
  79. Vasudharini
  80. Vasundhara
  81. Vasuprada
  82. Vibha
  83. Vibhuti
  84. Vidya
  85. Vikruti
  86. Vimala
  87. Vishnupatni
  88. Vishnuvakshah
  89. Vishwajanani
  90. Yashaswini
::Shri Lakshmi Ashtottara Shatanaamavali::

  • Om Prakruthyai namaha
  • Om Vikruthyai namaha
  • Om Vidyayai namaha
  • Om Sarva-butha-hita-pradayai namaha
  • Om Shradhayai namaha
  • Om Vibhutyai namaha
  • Om Surabyai namaha
  • Om Para-matma-kayai namaha
  • Om Vache namaha
  • Om Padma-layayai namaha
  • Om Padmayai namaha
  • Om Suchayai namaha
  • Om Swahayai namaha
  • Om Swadayai namaha
  • Om Sudhayai namaha
  • Om Dhanyayai namaha
  • Om Hiranyayai namaha
  • Om Lakshmyai namaha
  • Om Nitya-poostayai namaha
  • Om Vibha-varyai namaha
  • Om Adityai namaha
  • Om Dityai namaha
  • Om Dhiptayai namaha
  • Om Vasu-dayai namaha
  • Om Vasu-dharinyai namaha
  • Om Kama-layai namaha
  • Om Kanthayai namaha
  • Om Kamakshmyai namaha
  • Om Kroda-sambavayai namaha
  • Om Anugraha-paradayai namaha
  • Om Budhaye namaha
  • Om Anaghayai namaha
  • Om Hari-vallabayai namaha
  • Om Ashokayai namaha
  • Om Amrutayai namaha
  • Om Loka-shoka-vinasinyai namaha
  • Om Dharma-nilayayai namaha
  • Om Karu-nayai namaha
  • Om Loka-mathre namaha
  • Om Padma-priyayai namaha
  • Om Padma-hastayai namaha
  • Om Padma-kshemyai namaha
  • Om Padam-sundaryai namaha
  • Om Padmod-bhavayai namaha
  • Om Padma-mukyai namaha
  • Om Padma-naba-priyayai namaha
  • Om Ramayai namaha
  • Om Padma-mala-darayai namaha
  • Om Devyai namaha
  • Om Padminyai namaha
  • Om Padma-gandinyai namaha
  • Om Punya-gandayai namaha
  • Om Supra-sannayai namaha
  • Om Prasadabi-mukhyai namaha
  • Om Prabhayai namaha
  • Om Chandra-vadhanayai namaha
  • Om Chandrayai namaha
  • Om Chandra-sahodaryai namaha
  • Om Chatur-bhujayai namaha
  • Om Chandra-roopayai namaha
  • Om Indirayai namaha
  • Om Indu-seethalayai namaha
  • Om Ahloda-janyai namaha
  • Om Pustyai namaha
  • Om Shivayai namaha
  • Om Shivakaryai namaha
  • Om Satyai namaha
  • Om Vimalayai namaha
  • Om Vishwa-jananyai namaha
  • Om Tustayai namaha
  • Om Dharidhrya-nashinyai namaha
  • Om Preeti-phuskarinyai namaha
  • Om Shantayai namaha
  • Om Shukla-malyam-barayai namaha
  • Om Shriyai namaha
  • Om Bhaskaryai namaha
  • Om Bilva-nilayayai namaha
  • Om Vara-rohayai namaha
  • Om Yashasvinyai namaha
  • Om Vasundarayai namaha
  • Om Udarangayai namaha
  • Om Harinyai namaha
  • Om Hema-malinyai namaha
  • Om Dhana-dhanya-karyai namaha
  • Om Sidhaye namaha
  • Om Srainya-saumyayai namaha
  • Om Shubha-pradhayai namaha
  • Om Nrupa-veshma-gatha-nandhayai namaha
  • Om Varalakshmai namaha
  • Om Vatsu-pradhyai namaha
  • Om Shubayai namaha
  • Om Hiranya-prakarayai namaha
  • Om Samudra-tanayayai namaha
  • Om Jayayai namaha
  • Om Mangalayai namaha
  • Om devyai namaha
  • Om Vishnu-vaksha-stala-stitayai namaha
  • Om Vishnu-patnai namaha
  • Om Prasanakshyai namaha
  • Om Narayana samashritayai namaha
  • Om Daridhrya-dvamsinyai namaha
  • Om Dhevyai namaha
  • Om Sarvo-padrava-varenyai namaha
  • Om Nava-durgayai namaha
  • Om Maha-kalyai namaha
  • Om Bramha-vishnu-shivat-mikayai namaha
  • Om Tri-kala-gnyana-sampannayai namaha
  • Om Bhuwa-neshwaryai namaha
Iti Shree Lakshmi Ashtottara Shatanamavali Samaptam


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