Lakshmi - Goddess
of Wealth & Prosperity
Lakshmi is the consort of Lord Vishnu (Lord of Protection Maintenance &
Preservation). To go hand in hand with Lord Vishnu's act of maintenance
and preservation, Goddesses Lakshmi is the possessor of every form of wealth.
"Sri" is consdiered to be a pre-vedic deity associated with fertility,
water and this deity was later merged with the vedic deity of beauty, Lakshmi.
The word Lakshmi could have its origin
from the sanskrit terms
lakShyam meaning goal
lakShaNaM meaning aspect; characteristics
lakSha meaning Lakh, 100,000 in number,
lakShaM meaning target
Thus Goddess Lakshmi is the source of
wealth, fortune, prosperity, love and beauty. In the avatarams of
Lord Vishnu, Lakshmi took various forms to accompany him - Sita with Rama,
Rukmini with Krishna.
She is the possessor of great beauty
and is depicted in standing as well as in the seated postures, always on
a lotus. In her hands she holds two lotuses and wears a garland of lotus.
She is often depicted clad in a red saree.
She is accomapnied by two (sometimes
four) elephants on either side either garlanding her or spraying water
from pitchers. She has four arms. The two upper arms are holding
lotuses, while the lower arms are normally in abhaya and varada mudras.
She has on her lap, a pot overflowing with gold and other riches.
She is also depicted sometimes holding the amirtha kalasam (pot of ambrosia)
and bilva fruit.
Ashta Lakshmi are her eight forms
which are the commonly worshipped aspects. In each form, she bestows one
form of wealth to her devotees.
Temples exclusively for Lakshmi
is not very common in the South. In all Vaishnavite temples, there is a
separate shrine for Lakshmi (Thaayaar) apart from the idol seen in the
main sanctum. Lakshmi resides in the heart of all Perumal idols, remaining
inseparable. The Lakshmi temples in Maharashtra & the Chennai
Ashta Lakshmi temple
are shrines dedicated mainly to Goddess Lakshmi.
There are numerous poojas and festivals
which are performed to invoke her blessings such as on Deepavali, Varalakshmi
Viratham. During Navarathiri (9 nights) special prayers are offered to
Sakthi, Lakshmi and Saraswathi - 3 nights for each goddess.
arms represent the four directions and her willingness and availability
to help and assist in all directions in space. They also signify
the boons she bestows - the four ends of human life, dharma, wealth, pleasure
The lotus has
an exclusive quality. Though the plant & flower dwells in water,
water tends to roll of the surface. Lord Krishna says in his Bhagavad
Gita, ‘live life like a lotus that is untouched by water even when it dwells
in it". Goddess Lakshmi is the deity most associated with the lotus
to indicate that while we should enjoy the wealth & prosperity showered
by her we should try not to be too attached to material wealth.