“Lakshmi’s themes are devotion, luck, wealth, relationships, prosperity, love, the harvest and autumn. Her symbols are a lotus, rice, coins and basil.  A favorite Goddess in the Hindu pantheon, Lakshmi brings devoted love into our lives, along with a little luck and extra pocket change to help things along. When called upon, Lakshmi opens the floodgates of heaven to meet our heart’s or budget’s needs.

The annual Lakshmi Puja festival celebrates Lakshmi and honors Her ongoing goodness, which manifests in an abundant autumn harvest.

If you are a merchant or store owner, it’s customary to appeal to Lakshmi today for the ongoing success of your business. You can do this by placing a few grains of rice, some basil, or a coin in your daily tally sheets. This neatly tucks Lakshmi’s fortunate nature into your finances.

For those wishing luck in love, gather a handful of rice cooked in basil water (the cooking process adds energy and emotional warmth). Sprinkle this on the walkway leading up to your home and your preferred vehicle, saying:

‘Lakshmi, let true love find its way to my home;
Let me carry luck with me wherever I roam.’

Keep a pinch of this in an airtight container and carry it with you into social situations. It will act as a charm to improve your chances of meeting potential mates.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Patricia Monaghan tells us that “ancient India did not erect temples to this Goddess, for why try to contain the one who embodies Herself in all forms of wealth? Lakshmi is everywhere: in jewels, in coins, in rare shells, in every child born to welcoming parents, and particularly in cows. The well-known reverence for cows in Hindu India is based on the worship of this Goddess, called the Shakti of life-preserving Vishnu. Hindu philosophy defined male godhead as passive and abstract, distant and powerless, unless activated by the Goddess. In Vishnu’s case, his power to maintain and enrich life only functions when Lakshmi inspires it. Therefore it is thought good policy to bestow reverence on those embodiments of wealth-the cows who in some parts of India are simply called ‘lakshmi’ after their owner.

“Laksmi” by Hrana Janto

Some myths say that Lakshmi existed from all time, floating before creation on a lotus; for this She is called Padma (‘lotus-Goddess’), whose symbol became the sign for spiritual enlightenment throughout Asia. Some stories say that Lakshmi sprang up from the ocean when it was churned by the gods, emerging like a jewel in all Her beauty and power, covered with necklaces and pearls, crowned and braceleted, Her body fat and golden [Hhmm, kind of reminds me of someone else I know - Aphrodite or Venus perhaps?]. Many interpreters see the variant legends as recording Lakshmi’s preeminence in pre-Aryan India, where She was Goddess of the earth and its fructifying moisture, and Her later incorporation into Vedic theology when Her worshipers would not abandon their devotion to the lotus Goddess. Once established in the religious amalgam called Hinduism, Lakshmi grew to symbolize not only the wealth of the earth but of the soul as well, becoming a magnificent symbol of the delights of spiritual prosperity” (p. 190).

“Also called Mahalakshmi, She is said to bring good luck and is believed to protect Her devotees from all kinds of misery and money-related sorrows.  Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments.

Lakshmi is called Shri or Thirumagal because She is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or Gunas, and also because She is the source of strength even to Vishnu. When Vishnu incarnated on earth as avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi incarnated as his consort. Sita (Rama’s wife), Radha (Krishna’s lover) and Rukmini and the other wives of Krishna are considered forms of Lakshmi.

Lakshmi is worshipped daily in Hindu homes and commercial establishments as the Goddess of wealth. She also enjoys worship as the consort of Vishnu in many temples. The festivals of Diwali and Kojagiri Purnima are celebrated in Her honor.” [1]

Gyan Rajhans breaks down and explains Her iconography and their symbolism:

“The Four Arms & Four Hands

In Goddess Lakshmi’s case upper left back hand represents Dharma (duty). The lower left frontal hand represents Artha (material wealth). The right lower frontal hand represents Kama (desire) and the upper back right hand representsMoksha (salvation).

Half open Lotus (Upper left hand)

In the upper left hand Goddess Lakshmi holds a half-blossomed lotus, which has a hundred petals. In philosophical terms, the number 100 represents the state of Sadhana. Notice that this lotus is basically red. It is not in full blossom. It has streaks of whiteness. The red in it represents Rajoguna, the functional aspect, and the white represents Satoguna, the purity aspect. In other words this symbolizes progress in both mundane and spiritual walks of life side by side.

Gold Coins (Lower left hand)

Invariably this hand of the Goddess is shown dropping gold coins on the ground, where we find an owl sitting. The dropping of coins represents prosperity in all directions, or total prosperity. The gold coins do not only represent money; they also symbolize prosperity at all levels.

Abhaya Mudra (Right lower hand)

Now we come across the right lower hand, which is held in Abhaya Mudra (the pose signifying assurance of freedom from fear). The Gita says fear is caused by unfulfilled desires. The ultimate gift of the Goddess is the blessing of deliverance from fears.

Lotus in The Right Upper Hand

This hand is holding a lotus, which is fully opened; a lotus with one thousand petals (in contrast to the upper left hand holding half open lotus having a hundred petals), which is synonymous with sahasra-ra-chakra (the highest point in the evolution of the Kundalini Shakti). This lotus has a red base, with a blue tinge. The red in it represents ‘Rajas‘ and the blue represents ‘Akasha‘ (space). They signify total evolution.

The Red Sari (dress)

Lakshmi is shown wearing a red sari. It is again the colour of Rajas, which means creative activity. The golden embroidery indicates plenty. This re-affirms the idea of prosperity in general. This is in keeping with Her being the Goddess of prosperity.

Sitting on Lotus

The Goddess is shown sitting on a lotus. This posture means ‘Live in the world, but do not be possessed by the world’. The lotus keeps smiling on surface of water. Its origin is in mud, deep under water but its flowering is above the water-surface. Detachment and evolution is the message of this poetic symbol.

The Owl

The owl sitting on the left side of Lakshmi, where gold coins are falling, represents darkness.

An owl, generally speaking, is a night bird. It is very clever. It can’t see clearly in the daytime.

It represents perversion of attitudes in material prosperity. Undue attachment to wealth shows ignorance (darkness) and disturbs the economic balance in society. If man does not keep his balance when he gets a lot of material resources, he is bound to become a nuisance to himself and to others around him.

Four Fair Elephants Pouring Water (From Golden Vessels)

In common pictures of Lakshmi, we see four whitish elephants pouring water drawn from the ocean on the Goddess. This water is contained in golden vessels. Those four elephants represent the four directions—North, South, East, and West. The white hue here means purity. Wisdom has been occasionally represented in Hindu mythology by the form of an elephant.
The symbol of four elephants pouring water from golden vessels on the Goddess suggests that the chain of Purushartha (endeavour), dharma, artha, kama and moksha has to be continuously strengthened with wisdom, purity and charity.

Thus, we see that the idol or picture of Goddess Lakshmi represents prosperity and activity for achievement of liberation and attainment of self-realization.” [2]

“Lakshmi has many names. She is known to be very closely associated with the lotus, and Her many epithets are connected to the flower, such as:

  • Padma: lotus dweller
  • Kamala: lotus dweller
  • Padmapriya: One who likes lotuses
  • Padmamaladhara devi: One who wears a garland of lotuses
  • Padmamukhi: One whose face is as beautiful as a lotus
  • Padmakshi: One whose eyes are as beautiful as a lotus
  • Padmahasta: One who holds a lotus
  • Padmasundari: One who is as beautiful as a lotus

Her other names include:

  • Vishnupriya: One who is the beloved of Vishnu
  • Ulkavahini: One who rides an owl

Her other names include: Manushri, Chakrika, Kamalika, Lalima, Kalyani, Nandika, Rujula, Vaishnavi, Samruddhi, Narayani, Bhargavi, Sridevi, Chanchala, Jalaja, Madhavi, Sujata, Shreya and Aiswarya. She is also referred to as Jaganmaatha (‘Mother of the Universe’) in Shri Mahalakshmi Ashtakam. Rama and Indira are popular.” [3]

 

Lakshmi Chalisa is a forty verse prayer dedicated to Maha Lakshmi. Verses are usually dedicated to praise the goddess. The acts and deeds of Goddess Lakshmi are recalled in these verses to aid the devotee to meditate on virtuous and noble qualities.

 

 

I also really liked this video too.  This is Lakshmi Ashtottara Satha Nama Stotram – 108 names of Goddess Lakshmi Devi and is a Hindu devotional mantra.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Lakshmi”.

Rajhans, Gyan. Gyansrajhans.blogspot.com, “Ma Lakshmi’ Symbols explained“.

Wikipedia, “Lakshmi“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Andromeda. Order of the White Moon, “Lakshmi“.

Barkemeijer de Wit, Rhiannon. Pyramidcompany.com, “Who Is Goddess Lakshmi?

Blue, Nazarri. Order of the White Moon, “Lakshmi“.

Brockway, Laurie Sue. Goddessgift.com, “Lakshmi, Hindu Goddess of Good Fortune“.

Das, Subhamoy. Hinduism.about.com, “Lakshmi: Goddess of Wealth & Beauty!“.

Exotic India, “Lakshmi: The Lotus Goddess“.

Gil / Govinda. Myspace.com, “Symbolism of Lakshmi devi: Very Important!

Kumar, Nitin. Exoticindiaart.com, “Hindu Goddesses – Lakshmi and Saraswati“.

Omgan.com, “Goddess Lakshmi Worship“.

Pandit, Bansi. Koausa.org, “Goddess Lakshmi“.

Sai MahaLakshmi.com, “Goddess Lakshmi Maha Lakshmi“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Sri Lakshmi“.