Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of wealth, love, prosperity (both material and spiritual), fortune, and the embodiment of beauty. She is the wife of Vishnu. Also known as Mahalakshmi, she is said to bring good luck and is believed to protect her devotees from all kinds of misery and money-related sorrows.

Lakshmi is called Shree 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 the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi took incarnation as his consort. Sita, Radha, Rukmini and Satyabama are considered forms of Lakshmi

As per Devi, the Supreme power, is called Durga or Shakti. The abstract power has been imagined by the Hindus as Durga Shakti. Both Lakshmi and Saraswati are forms of Durga or Shakti or Tridevi the eternal consort power of Parabrahman the Trimurti. By the help of the Supreme soul (Adi Purusha) to create the Supreme Power (Adi-shakti), three other shapes have been created from the Supreme Power.

She is seen in two forms, Bhudevi and Sridevi, both either side of Sri Venkateshwara or Vishnu. Bhudevi is the representation and totality of the material world or energy, called the aparam Prakriti, in which she is called Mother Earth. Sridevi is the spiritual world or energy, called the Prakriti. Most people are mistaken that they are separate beings although they are one, that is, Lakshmi. Lakshmi is the power of Vishnu.

Mahalakshmi's presence is also found on Sri Venkateswara (at Tirumala) or Vishnu's chest, at the heart. Lakshmi is the embodiment of love, from which devotion to God or Bhakti flows. It is through Love/Bhakti or Lakshmi that the atma or soul is able to reach God or Vishnu. Lakshmi plays a special role as the mediator between her husband Vishnu and his worldly devotees. Lakshmi represents a more soothing, kind, warm and approachable mother figure who willingly intervenes in the lives of devotees. When asking Vishnu for grace or the forgiveness, the devotees often approach Him through the intermediary presence of Lakshmi. She is also the personification of the spiritual Fulfillment.Also, she embodies the spiritual world, also known as Vaikunta, the abode of Lakshmi-Narayana or Vishnu, or what would be considered Heaven in Vaishnavism. She is also the divine qualities of God and the soul. Lakshmi is the embodiment of God's superior spiritual feminine energy, Param Prakriti, which purifies, empowers and uplifts the individual. Hence, she is called the Goddess of Fortune. She is believed to be the mother of the universe.

Creation and legends

Devas (gods) and asuras (demons) were both mortal at one time, in Hinduism. Amrit, the divine nectar that grants immortality, could only be obtained by churning the Kshirsagar (Ocean of Milk). The devas and asuras both sought immortality and decided to churn the Kshirsagar. The samudra manthan commenced with the devas on one side and the asuras on the other. Vishnu incarnated as Kurma, the tortoise, and a mountain was placed on the tortoise as a churning pole. Vasuki, the great venom-spewing serpent, was wrapped around the mountain and used to churn the ocean. A host of divine celestial objects came up during the churning. Along with them emerged the goddess Lakshmi. In some versions she is said to be the daughter of Varuna, the sea god since she emerged from the sea.

In the Vishnu Purana, Garuda Purana, Linga Purana and Padma Purana she is said to have been born as the daughter of the divine sage Bhrigu. In the Vishnu Purana, she was born to Bhrigu and his wife Khyaati and was named "Bhargavi". According to the Vishnu Purana, once when the sage Durvasa was once traversing the earth he saw a celestial garland in the hands of a celestial maid and requested her to give it to him. The nymph agreed and gave the garland to Durvasa who placing it on his head yielded to its influence and wandered about inebriated. While wandering he met Indra who was acoompanied by the Devas and gave the garland to him. Indra then placed the garland on his elephant Airavata where it shined brightly and blinded Airavata who seized the garland with his trunk and threw it to the ground. Durvasa on seeing this becomes infuriated and curses the whole universe to be devoid of "Shri". The Devas unable to bear this told about the matter to Brahma and he instructed them to request Vishnu to help them solve this situation. Vishnu agreed and instructed them to seek the help of the Asuras and churn the Ksheera Sagara in order for the effect of Durvasa's curse to be removed. The Devas and the Auras together churned the cosmic ocean. First to come out of the ocean was the divine cow Kamadhenu, then Varuni, then the tree Parijat, then the Apsaras, then Chandra (the moon), then Dhanvantari with Amrita (nectar of immortality) in his hand. Then Lakshmi appeared seated on a lotus and placed herself on the chest of Vishnu.

Lakshmi in Sanskrit is derived from its elemental form lakS, meaning "to perceive or observe". This is synonymous with lakṣya, meaning "aim" or "objective". 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, Aishwarya, Lalima, Kalyani, Nandika, Rujula, Vaishnavi, Samruddhi, Narayani, Bhargavi, Sridevi, Chanchala, Jalaja, Madhavi, Sujata, Shreya. She is also referred to as Jaganmaatha ("Mother of the Universe") in Shri Mahalakshmi Ashtakam. Rama and Indira are popular.

Iconography

Lakshmi is described as bestowing coins of prosperity and flanked by elephants signifying her royal power. However, in some texts, she has an owl as her vahana. Her expression is always calm and loving. The lotus also symbolizes the fertile growth of organic life, as the world is continually reborn on a lotus growing out of Vishnu's navel.

Secondary manifestations

Ashta Lakshmi

Ashta Lakshmi are a group of eight secondary manifestations of Lakshmi, who preside over eight sources of wealth and thus represent the powers of Shri-Lakshmi. Actually, Mahalakshmi presides over eighteen forms of wealth, ten of which are the eight great siddhis called AshtaSiddhis, the spiritual knowledge or Gnana, and teaching or imparting the spiritual knowledge to the entire world without any class difference.

Mahalakshmi is also known to preside over 16 forms of worldly wealth excluding Ashta siddhis, gnana and imparting gnana. They are as follows: Fame; Knowledge; Courage and Strength; Victory; Good Children; Valor; Gold, Gems and Other Valuables; Grains in abundance; Happiness; Bliss; Intelligence; Beauty; Higher Aim, High Thinking and Higher Meditation; Morality and Ethics; Good Health; Long Life.

Mahalakshmi is said to exist in several other forms. The most famous amongst them are Sridevi, Bhoodevi, and Neeladevi. The famous Vaishnavite saint Aandaal, who was born in Srivilliputhur in Tamil Nadu, about 5050 years ago, is an incarnation of Mahalakshmi herself. Sridevi represents moveable assets, called Chanchala in Sanskrit. Bhoodevi represents immoveable assets (Achanchala). It is because of this that mountains in India are prefixed with Achanachala, for example, Arunachala, Himachala etc. The term chanchala also denotes fickleness, which is why people are not always wealthy. Everything in this world operates only with the grace of Mahalakshmi.

In addition, according to the Kalki Purana, when Vishnu incarnates as Kalki, she will appear as his wife in the form of Padma and give birth to two sons.

Celebration in Hindu society

Hindus worship Lakshmi the most on Diwali, the festival of lights. According to tradition, people would put small oil lamps outside their homes on Diwali in hopes Lakshmi will come to bless them.

Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakshmi

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