Lakshmi

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Lakshmi
goddess of wealth and beauty
Raja Ravi Varma's Lakshmi
Devanagari लक्ष्मी
Sanskrit Transliteration lakṣmī
Affiliation Devi (Tridevi)
Abode Vaikuntha, Ksheera Sagara
Mantra Om Hrim Shri Lakshmibhyo Namaha
Consort Vishnu
Mount Elephant, Owl

Lakshmi (Sanskrit: लक्ष्मी lakṣmī, Hindi pronunciation: [ˈləkʃmi]) is the Hindu goddess of wealth, love, prosperity (both material and spiritual), fortune, and the embodiment of beauty. She is the wife and active energy of Vishnu.[1] Her four hands represent the four goals of human life considered proper in Hindu way of life – dharma, kama, artha, and moksha.[2][3] Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments. In Buddhist sects of Tibet, Nepal and southeast Asia, goddess Vasudhara mirrors the characteristics and attributes of Hindu goddess Lakshmi, with minor iconographic differences.[4]

Lakshmi is also called Sri[5] 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 (Rama's wife),[5] Radha (Krishna's lover),[6][7] Rukmini and Satyabama are considered forms of Lakshmi.[8] In ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi.[9] The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband, states Patricia Monaghan, is "the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings".[10]

Archeological discoveries and ancient coins suggest the recognition and reverence for goddess Lakshmi, in Scytho-Parthian kingdom and throughout India, by 1st millennium BC.[11][12] Lakshmi's iconography and statues have also been found in Hindu temples of southeast Asia, estimated to be from second half of 1st millennium AD.[13][14]

In modern times, Lakshmi is worshipped as the goddess of wealth. She is also worshipped as the consort of Vishnu in many temples. The festivals of Diwali and Sharad Purnima (Kojagiri Purnima) are celebrated in her honour.[15]

Etymology[edit]

Lakshmi (Lakṣmī) is one of many Hindu deities whose meaning and significance evolved in ancient Sanskrit texts.[16]

Lakshmi is mentioned once in Rig Veda, but the context suggests that the word does not mean "goddess of wealth and fortune", rather it means "kindred mark or sign of auspicious fortune".[5][16]

भद्रैषां लक्ष्मीर्निहिताधि वाचि
"an auspicious fortune is attached to their words"

—Rig Veda, x.71.2, Translated by John Muir[16]

In Atharva Veda, composed about 1000 BC, Lakshmi evolves into a complex concept with plural manifestations. Book 7, Chapter 115 of Atherva Veda describes the plurality, asserts that a hundred Lakshmis are born with the body of a mortal at birth, some good, punya (virtuous) and auspicious, while others bad, paapi (evil) and unfortunate. The good are welcomed, while the bad urged to leave.[16] The concept and spirit of Lakshmi, her association with fortune and the good, is significant enough that Atharva Veda mentions it in multiple books, for example in Book 12, Chapter 5 as punya Lakshmi.[17] In chapters of Atharva Veda, Lakshmi connotes the good, an auspicious sign, good luck, good fortune, prosperity, success and happiness.[5]

Goddess Lakshmi
YosriLakshmi.jpg
India
Azilises Gaja Lakshmi standing on a lotus 1st century BCE.jpg
Coins of Gandhara, 1st century BC
Prasat Kravan 0637.jpg
Cambodia
Sandstone Lakshmi statue (10th century), Museum of Vietnamese History, Ho Chi Minh City - 20121014.JPG
Vietnam, 10th century
Ganesha Saraswati Lakshmi in Hindu Temple Malaysia.jpg
Malaysia
Goddess Lakshmi inside a home for Diwali Puja.jpg
Diwali home temple, USA
Lakshmi is one of the trinity of Hindu goddesses. Her iconography is found in ancient and modern Hindu temples.

In later mythology, Lakshmi is referred to as the goddess of fortune and beauty, identified with Śrī and regarded as the wife of Viṣṇu (Nārāyaṇa).[5] For example, in Shatapatha Brahmana, variously estimated to be composed between 800 BC and 300 BC, Śrī (Lakshmi) is part of one of many theories, in ancient India, about the creation of universe. In Book 9 of Shatapatha Brahmana, Śrī emerges from Prajāpati, after his intense meditation on creation of life and nature of universe. Śrī is described as the beautiful, resplendent and trembling woman at her birth with immense energy and powers.[16] The gods were bewitched, desire her and immediately become covetous of her. The gods approach Prajāpati and request permission to kill her and then take her powers, talents and gifts. Prajāpati refuses, tells the gods that males should not kill females, and that they can seek her gifts without violence.[18] The gods then approach Lakshmi, deity Agni gets food, Soma gets kingly authority, Varuna gets imperial authority, Mitra acquires martial energy, Indra gets force, Brihaspati gets priestly authority, Savitri acquires dominion, Pushan gets splendor, Sarasvati takes nourishment and Tvashtri gets forms.[16] The hymns of Shatapatha Brahmana thus describe Śrī as a goddess born with and personifying a diverse range of talents and powers.

According to another legend, she emerges during the creation of universe, floating over the water on the expanded petals of a lotus flower; she is also variously regarded as wife of Sūrya, as wife of Prajāpati, as wife of Dharma and mother of Kāma, as sister or mother of Dhātṛ and Vidhātṛ, as wife of Dattatreya, as one of the nine Śaktis of Viṣṇu, as a manifestation of Prakṛti, as identified with Dākshāyaṇī in Bharataśrama, and with Sītā, wife of Rāma, and with other women.[5][19]

In the Epics of Hinduism, such as in the Mahabharata, Laksmi personifies wealth, riches, beauty, happiness, loveliness, grace, charm and splendour.[5] In another Hindu legend about the creation of universe, described in the Ramayana,[20] Lakshmi springs with other precious things from the foam of the ocean of milk when churned by the gods and demons for the recovery of the Amṛta. She appeared with a lotus in her hand, whence she is also called Padmā.[5][21]

Root of the word

Lakshmi in Sanskrit is derived from the root word lakṣ (लक्ष्) and lakṣa (लक्ष), meaning "to perceive, observe, know, understand" and "goal, aim, objective" respectively.[22] These roots give Lakshmi the symbolism – know and understand your goal.[23] A related term is lakṣaṇa, which means "sign, target, aim, symbol, attribute, quality, lucky mark, auspicious opportunity".[24]

Symbolism and iconography[edit]

The iconography of Lakshmi carries symbolism.

The image, icons and sculpture of Lakshmi is represented with symbolism. Her name is derived from Sanskrit root words for know the goal and understand the objective.[23] Her four arms are symbolic of the four goals of human being that are considered good in Hinduism - dharma (pursuit of ethical, moral life), artha (pursuit of wealth, means of life), kama (pursuit of love, emotional fulfillment), and moksha (pursuit of self-knowledge, liberation).[3][25]

In Lakshmi's iconography, she is either sitting or standing on lotus, and typically also carries lotus in one or two hands. Lotus carries symbolic meanings in Hinduism and other Indian traditions. It symbolically represents reality, consciousness and karma (work, deed) in Sahasrara context, and knowledge and self-realization in other contexts.[26] Lotus, a flower that blossoms in clean or dirty water, also symbolizes purity and beauty regardless of the good or bad circumstances in which its grows. It is a reminder that good and prosperity can bloom and not be affected by evil in one's surrounding.[27][28] Below, behind or on the sides, Lakshmi is sometimes shown with one or two elephants, and occasionally with an owl. Elephants symbolize work, activity and strength, as well as water, rain and fertility for abundant prosperity.[29] The owl, called Pechaka in eastern regions of India, signifies the patient striving to observe, see and discover knowledge particularly when surrounded by darkness. Owl, a bird that becomes blind in daylight, is also a symbolic reminder to refrain from blindness and greed after knowledge and wealth has been acquired.[30]

Wealth symbolically pours out from one of her hands in some representations, or she simply holds a jar of wealth in some representations. This symbolism has multiple meanings. Wealth manifested through Lakshmi means both material as well as spiritual wealth.[26] Her face and open hands are in a mudra that signify compassion, giving or daana (charity).[25]

Lakshmi typically wears a red dress embroidered with golden threads, symbolism for beauty and wealth. She, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, is often represented with her husband Vishnu, the god who maintains human life filled with justice and peace. This symbolism implies wealth and prosperity is coupled with maintenance of life, justice and peace.[26]

Names[edit]

Lakshmi has numerous names, and numerous ancient Stotram and Sutras of Hinduism recite her various names.[9][31] She is 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:[9] Ambika, Manushri, Mohini, Chakrika, Kamalika, Aishwarya, Lalima, Indira, Kalyani, Nandika, Nandini, Rujula, Vaishnavi, Samruddhi, Narayani, Bhargavi, Sridevi, Chanchala, Jalaja, Madhavi, Sujata, Shreya, Maheshwari, Madhu, Madhavi, Paramaa, Janamodini, Tripura, Tulasi, Ketaki, Malati, Vidhya, Trilochana, Tilottama, Subha, Chandika, Devi, Kriyalakshmi, Viroopa, Vani, Gayatri, Savitri, Apara or Aparajita, Aparna, Aruna, Akhila, Bala, Tara, Kuhu, Poornima, Aditi, Anumati, Avashyaa, Sita, Taruni, Jyotsna, Jyoti, Nimeshika, Atibha, Ishaani, Kalyani, Smriti and Sri.[31] She is also referred to as Jaganmaatha ("Mother of the Universe") in Shri Mahalakshmi Ashtakam.[citation needed]

Ancient literature on Lakshmi[edit]

Upanishads[edit]

Shakta Upanishads are dedicated to the trinity of goddesses - Lakshmi, Saraswati and Parvati. Saubhagya Lakshmi Upanishad, estimated to be composed before 300 BC, describes the qualities, characteristics and powers of Lakshmi.[32] In second part of the Upanishad, the emphasis shifts to the use of yoga and transcendence from material craving in order to achieve spiritual knowledge and self-realization, the true wealth.[33][34] Saubhagya-Lakshmi Upanishad synonymously uses Sri to describe Lakshmi.[32]

Stotrams and Sutras[edit]

Numerous ancient Stotram and Sutras of Hinduism recite hymns dedicated to Lakshmi.[9] She is a major goddess in the Puranas and Itihasa of Hinduism. In ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. For example,[9]

Every woman is an embodiment of you.
You exist as little girls in their childhood,
As young women in their youth,
And as elderly women in their old age.

—Sri Kamala Stotram[9]

Every woman is an emanation of you.

—Sri Daivakrta Laksmi Stotram[9]

Ancient prayers dedicated to Lakshmi seek both material and spiritual wealth in prayers dedicated to her.[35]

Puranas[edit]

Lakshmi features prominently in the Puranas of Hinduism. Vishnu Purana, in particular, dedicates many sections to her and also refers to her as Śrī.[36] J. A. B. van Buitenen translates passages describing Lakshmi in Vishnu Purana as, "Śrī, loyal to Vishnu, is the mother of the world. Vishnu is the meaning, Śrī is the speech. She is the conduct, he the behavior. Vishnu is knowledge, she the insight. He is dharma, she the virtuous action. She is the earth, he earth's upholder. She is contentment, he the satisfaction. She is wish, he is the desire. Śrī is the sky, Vishnu the Self of everything. He is the moon, she the beauty of moon. He is the ocean, she is the shore".[36] This unified, complementing and integrated image of Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband, notes Patricia Monaghan, is "the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings".[10]

Subhasita, gnomic and didactic literature[edit]

Lakshmi, along with Parvati and Saraswati, are subjects of extensive Subhasita, gnomic and didactic literature of India.[37] Composed in 1st millennium BC through the 16th century AD, these are short poems, proverbs, couplets or aphorisms in Sanskrit, written in precise meter. They sometimes take the form of dialogue between Lakshmi and Vishnu, or highlight the spiritual message in Vedas and ethical maxims from Hindu Epics through Lakshmi.[37] An example Subhashita is Puranarthasamgraha, compiled by Vekataraya in South India, where Lakshmi and Vishnu discuss niti (right, moral conduct) and rajaniti (statesmanship, right governance) - covering in 30 chapters, ethical and moral questions about personal, social and political life.[38]

Manifestations and aspects[edit]

Lakshmi with Vishnu in Paramaribo Hindu temple, Suriname.

In eastern India, Lakshmi is seen as a form of one goddess Devi, the Supreme power; Devi is also called Durga or Shakti. Lakshmi, Saraswati and Parvati are typically conceptualized as distinct in most of India, but in states such as West Bengal and Odisha, they are regionally believed to be forms of Durga.[39]

Lakshmi 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. Lakshmi is the power of Vishnu.[1]

Inside temples, Lakshmi is often shown together with Vishnu. In certain parts of India, Lakshmi plays a special role as the mediator between her husband Vishnu and his worldly devotees. When asking Vishnu for grace or forgiveness, the devotees often approach Him through the intermediary presence of Lakshmi.[40] She is also the personification of the spiritual fulfillment.[41] Lakshmi embodies the spiritual world, also known as Vaikunta, the abode of Lakshmi-Narayana or Vishnu, or what would be considered heaven in Vaishnavism. Lakshmi is the embodiment of God's superior spiritual feminine energy, Param Prakriti, which purifies, empowers and uplifts the individual.[citation needed]

Secondary manifestations[edit]

Main article: Ashta Lakshmi

Ashta Lakshmi (Sanskrit: अष्टलक्ष्मी,Aṣṭalakṣmī, lit. "eight Lakshmis") are a group of eight secondary manifestations of Lakshmi, who preside over eight sources of wealth and thus represent the powers of Shri-Lakshmi. Temples dedicated to Ashta Lakshmi are found in Tamil Nadu such as the Ashtalakshmi Kovil near Chennai, and in many other states of India.[42]

Gaja Lakshmi at Shravanabelagola Temple, Karnataka.
Ashta Lakshmi
आदि लक्ष्मी (ఆదిలక్ష్మి; ಆದಿಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ) Ādi Lakṣmī The First manifestation of Lakshmi
धान्य लक्ष्मी (ధాన్యలక్ష్మి; ಧಾನ್ಯಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ) Dhānya Lakṣmī Granary wealth
धैर्य लक्ष्मी (ధైర్యలక్ష్మి; ಧೈರ್ಯಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ) Veera Lakṣmī Wealth of courage
गज लक्ष्मी (గజలక్ష్మి; ಗಜಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ) Gaja Lakṣmī Elephants spraying water, wealth of fertility, rains and food.[43]
सन्तान लक्ष्मी (సంతానలక్ష్మి; ಸಂತಾನಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ) Santāna Lakṣmī Wealth of continuity, progeny
विजय लक्ष्मी (విజయలక్ష్మి; ವಿಜಯಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ) Vijaya Lakṣmī Wealth of victory
विद्या लक्ष्मी (విద్యాలక్ష్మి; ವಿದ್ಯಾಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ) Aishwarya Lakṣmī Wealth of knowledge and education
धन लक्ष्मी (ధనలక్ష్మి; ಧನಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ) Dhana Lakṣmī Monetary wealth
Ashta Lakshmi murti worshipped in a Golu display during Dusshera.

Other representations of Lakshmi include manifesting in three forms - Sri devi, Bhoo devi, and Neela devi. This representation is found, for example, in Sri Bhu Neela Sahita Temple near Dwaraka Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh and Adinath Swami Temple in Tamil Nadu.[44] Sridevi represents moveable assets (called Chanchala). Bhoodevi represents immoveable assets (Achanchala).[citation needed]

In another representation, Mahalakshmi presides over eighteen forms of wealth, ten of which include the eight great siddhis called AshtaSiddhis, the spiritual knowledge or Jnana (Sanskrit: ज्ञान, jñāna).[citation needed]

In Nepal, Mahalakshmi is shown with 16 hands, each symbolically manifesting her aspects that include those of regular Lakshmi as well as other powers of Durga worshipped in regions southeast and east of Nepal. In sixteen hands, Mahalakshmi holds lotus, a pot, charity gesture (mudra), book, rosary, bell, shield, bow, arrow, sword, trident, admonition gesture, noose, skull cap and kettledrum.[45] Mahalakshmi, in this representation, does not sit on a lotus but on a lion, and she is manifested as a kind, compassionate, tranquil deity.[45]

Jain temples[edit]

Like Hindu temples, some Jain temples depict Sri Lakshmi as a goddess of artha and kama (good wealth, good love). She is, for example, exhibited with Vishnu in Parshvanatha Jain Temple at the Khajuraho Monuments of Madhya Pradesh.[46] Lakshmi is shown being drawn close to Vishnu, pressing against his chest, while Vishnu cups a breast in his palm. This Vishnu-Lakshmi iconography in Jainism religion, built near Hindu temples of Khajuraho, suggests the sharing and acceptance of Lakshmi and other religious concepts across a spectrum of Indian religions.[46] Lakshmi is also praised in the Jain text Kalpa Sūtra.[47]

Creation and legends[edit]

A manuscript depicting Samudra Manthan, with Lakshmi emerging with lotus in her hands.

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 the sea god since she emerged from the sea.[citation needed]

In the Garuda Purana, Linga Purana and Padma Purana she is said to have been born as the daughter of the divine sage Bhrigu and his wife Khyaati and was named "Bhargavi". According to the Vishnu Purana, the universe was created when the Devas (good) and Asuras (evil) churn the cosmic ocean of milk (Ksheera Sagara). Lakshmi came out of the ocean bearing lotus, along with the divine cow Kamadhenu, Varuni,the tree Parijat, the Apsaras, the Chandra (the moon), and Dhanvantari with Amrita (nectar of immortality). When she appeared, she had a choice to go to Devas or the Asuras. She chose Devas side; and among thirty deities, she chose to be with Vishnu. Thereafter, in all three worlds, the lotus bearing goddess was celebrated.[36]

Celebration in Hindu society[edit]

Many Hindus worship Lakshmi on Diwali, the festival of lights.[48] It is celebrated in autumn, typically October or November, every year.[49] The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.[50]

Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes and offices.[51] On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja (prayers) typically to Lakshmi. After puja, fireworks follow,[52] then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period, since Lakshmi connotes auspiciousness, wealth and prosperity.[53] This festival dedicated to Lakshmi is considered by Hindus as one of the most important and joyous festivals of the year.

Gaja Lakshmi Puja is another autumn festival celebrated on Sharad Purnima, in many parts of India, on the full-moon day in the month of Ashvin (September–October).[15] The Sharad Purnima, also called Kojaagari Purnima or Kumar Purnima is a harvest festival celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu lunar month of Asvin. It marks the end of monsoon. There is a traditional celebration of the moon and is also called the 'Kaumudi celebration', Kaumudi meaning moonlight.[54] On Sharad Purnima night, goddess Lakshmi is thanked and worshipped for the harvests.

Regional variations[edit]

Bengal
Kojagiri Lakshmi puja

In Bengal, Lakshmi is worshiped on Kojagiri Purnima, in autumn when the moon is full, the brightest night of the year. She, riding on her mount-the great white owl, is believed to bless wealth and resources for content lives on this night. The owl symbolically represents penetrating sight in the darkness of night.

During the celebrations, lotus flowers, sandalwood, vermilion, betel leaves & nuts, fruits and various sweet preparations made from jaggery, rice and coconuts are used for her ritual worship.

Apart from the autumnal celebration, Lakshmi, along with Alakshmi (her shadow energy), is also worshipped during Diwali night in some Bengali communities. The goddess Kali of Kalighat in Kolkata is worshipped in Mahalakshmi form during Diwali. Some people observe Lakshmi Vrata/Puja (fasting and prayer). Women sing a string of poems called 'Panchali', narrating the glories of goddess Lakshmi.[citation needed]

Odisha

Lakshmi is the goddess thanked after autumn harvests in the month of Mrigashīrsha. Women celebrate the festival Manabasa Gurubara or Lakshmi Puja. On each Thursday of the month, the houses are cleaned and the floors are decorated with floral designs drawn with rice powder mixed with water, called jhoti. Footprints are painted from the doorstep to the place of worship, to symbolize that Lakshmi has entered the house. The roofs are decorated with flower garlands and festoons woven out of paddy stalks.[citation needed] After a purification bath in the morning, the women of the region symbolically offer prayers to paddy considered a bounty from Lakshmi. Different rice cakes and Khiri (rice soup prepared with milk and sugar) are prepared in households and are offered to the deity and then eaten by all.[citation needed]

People in Odisha also worship Gaja Lakshmi on Sharad Purnima, also known as Kumar Purnima. Children wear new clothes and families celebrate the day with feasts. It is a festival of rejoicing for the girls; all of them sing and dance. The songs are of a special nature. They play a kind of game known as puchi and other country games.[citation needed]

Related goddesses[edit]

Japan[edit]

Goddess Kishijoten of Japan corresponds to Lakshmi. Kishijoten is the goddess of beauty, fortune and prosperity.[55] Kishijoten is considered the sister of the deity Bishamon (毘沙門, also known as Tamon or Bishamon-ten); Bishamon protects human life, fights evil and brings good fortune. In ancient and medieval Japan, Kishijoten was the goddess worshipped for luck and prosperity, particularly on behalf of children. Kishijoten was also the guardian goddess of Geishas. While Bishamon and Kishijoten are found in ancient Chinese and Japanese Buddhist literature, their roots have been traced to deities in Hinduism.[55]

Tibet and Nepal[edit]

Goddess Vasudhara in Tibetan and Nepalese culture is closely analogous to goddess Lakshmi.[4]

Worship[edit]

There are many slokas, songs and legends dedicated to Mahalakshmi. These are recited during Lakshmi worship and ceremonies.[9]

Some stotra dedicated to Lakshmi are[56] "Sri Mahalakshmi Ashtakam", "Sri Lakshmi Sahasaranama Sthothra" by Sanathkumara, "Sri Stuti" by Sri Vedantha Desikar, Sri Lakshmi Stuti by Indra, "Sri Kanaka dhara Sthothra" by Sri Aadhi Shankaracharya, "Sri Chatussloki" by Sri Yamunacharya, "Sri Lakshmi Sloka" by Bhagavan Sri Hari Swamiji and Sri Sukta which is contained in the Vedas. Lakshmi Gayathri Sloka, "Om Mahalakshmichae Vidmahe sri Vishnupathinichae Dhi-Mahi Thanno Lakshmi Prachodayat" is a prayer to Lakshmi contained in the Sri Sukta.[citation needed]

Culture[edit]

Lakshmi is considered auspicious and symbolizes beauty and prosperity. Her name gives the prefix Sri (also spelled Shri, pronounced as shree) common in cultural discourse and human relationships. Sri is considered an auspicious prefix or suffix, and used to imply or mean beauty, wealth, prosperity or auspiciousness. For example, Rajya Lakshmi means "wealth of empire", and Shanti Sri means "wealth of peace". In modern India, common honorific synonymous for the English Mr. and Mrs., are Shri (also Sri or Shree) and Shrimati (also Srimati or Shreemati) respectively.

Archeology[edit]

Gaja Lakshmi, where Lakshmi is flanked by two elephants spraying water on her, is one of the most frequent representations found in archeological sites. One of the oldest sculpture of Gaja Lakshmi is from Mathura, at Sonkh site, dated to be from pre-Kushan Empire era.[11] Similarly, the Atranjikhera site in modern Uttar Pradesh, has yielded terracotta plaque with images of Lakshmi dated to be from 2nd century BC. Other archeological sites with ancient Lakshmi terracotta figurines from 1st millennium BC include Vaisali, Sravasti, Kausambi, Campa and Candraketugadh.[12]

Goddess Lakshmi in frequently found in ancient coins of various Hindu kingdoms from Afghanistan throughout India. Gaja Lakshmi has been found on coins of Scytho-Parthian kings Azes II and Azilises; she also appears on Sunga Empire king Jyesthamitra era coins, both dated to be from 1st millennium BC. Coins from 1st through 4th century AD, found in various locations in India, such as Ayodhaya, Mathura, Ujjain, Sanchi, Bodh Gaya, Kanauj all feature Lakshmi.[57] Similarly, ancient Graeco-Indian gems and seals with images of Lakshmi have been found, estimated to be from the 1st millennium BC.[58]

A 1400-year-old rare granite sculpture of Lakshmi has been recovered at the Waghama village along the Jehlum in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir.[59]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Das, Subhamoy. "Lakshmi: Goddess of Wealth & Beauty!". Hinduism.about.com. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  2. ^ Constantina Rhodes (2011), Invoking Lakshmi: The Goddess of Wealth in Song and Ceremony, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-1438433202, pages 29-47, 220-252
  3. ^ a b Divali - THE SYMBOLISM OF LAKSHMI National Library and Information System Authority, Trinidad and Tobago (2009)
  4. ^ a b Miranda Shaw (2006), Buddhist Goddesses of India, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691127583, Chapter 13 with pages 258-262
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h lakṣmī, Monier-Williams' Sanskrit–English Dictionary, University of Washington Archives
  6. ^ Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses; by Suresh Chandra
  7. ^ Radha in Hinduism, the favourite mistress of the god Krishna, and an incarnation of Lakshmi. In devotional religion she represents the longing of the human soul for God: The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (2006); Elizabeth Knowles |
  8. ^ Essential Hinduism; by Steven Rosen (2006); p. 136
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Constantina Rhodes (2011), Invoking Lakshmi: The Goddess of Wealth in Song and Ceremony, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-1438433202
  10. ^ a b Patricia Monaghan, Goddesses in World Culture, Volume 1, Praeger, ISBN 978-0313354656, page 5-11
  11. ^ a b Upinder Singh (2009), A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century, ISBN 978-8131711200, Pearson Education, pages 438
  12. ^ a b Asha Vishnu (1993), Material life of northern India: Based on an archaeological study, 3rd century B.C. to 1st century B.C, ISBN 978-8170994107, pages 194-195
  13. ^ Vitorio Roveda (June, 2004), The Archaeology of Khmer Images, Aséanie, Volume 13, Issue 13, pages 11-46
  14. ^ O goddess where art thou? S. James, Cornell University (2011)
  15. ^ a b Constance Jones (2011), in Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations (Editor: J Gordon Melton), ISBN 978-1598842050, pages 253-254 and 798
  16. ^ a b c d e f John Muir, Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and History of the People of India - Their Religions and Institutions at Google Books, Volume 5, pp. 348-362 with footnotes
  17. ^ "अप क्रामति सूनृता वीर्यं पुन्या लक्ष्मीः"; अथर्ववेद: काण्डं 12 Atharva Veda Sanskrit Original Archive
  18. ^ Naama Drury (2010), The Sacrificial Ritual In The Satapatha Brahmana, ISBN 978-8120826656, pages 61-102
  19. ^ Monier Williams Religious Thought and Life in India, Part 1, 2nd Edition, pages 103-112
  20. ^ Ramayana, i.45.40-43
  21. ^ Monier Williams Religious Thought and Life in India, Part 1, 2nd Edition, pages 108-111
  22. ^ lakṣ, लक्ष् Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, University of Koeln, Germany
  23. ^ a b Carol Plum-Ucci, Celebrate Diwali, ISBN 978-0766027787, pages 79-86
  24. ^ lakṣaṇa Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, University of Koeln, Germany
  25. ^ a b A Parasarthy (1983), Symbolism in Hinduism, Chinmaya Mission Publication, ISBN 978-8175971493, pages 57-59
  26. ^ a b c A Parasarthy (1983), Symbolism in Hinduism, Chinmaya Mission Publication, ISBN 978-8175971493, pages 91-92, 160-162
  27. ^ R.S. Nathan (1983), Symbolism in Hinduism, Chinmaya Mission Publication, ISBN 978-8175971493, page 16
  28. ^ Lynne Gibson (2002), Hinduism, Heinemann, ISBN 978-0435336196, page 29
  29. ^ Hope Werness (2007), Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in World Art, Bloomsbury, ISBN 978-0826419132, pages 159-167
  30. ^ Ajnatanama (1983), Symbolism in Hinduism, Chinmaya Mission Publication, ISBN 978-8175971493, page 317-318
  31. ^ a b Vijaya Kumara, 108 Names Of Lakshmi, Sterling Publishers, ISBN 9788120720282
  32. ^ a b A Mahadeva (1950), Saubhagya-Lakshmi Upanishad in The Shakta Upanishads with the Commentary of Sri Upanishad Brahma Yogin, Adyar Library Series No. 10, Madras
  33. ^ Saubhagya Lakshmi Upanishad Original text of the Upanishad in Sanskrit
  34. ^ A. G. Krishna Warrier (1931, Translator), Saubhagya Lakshmi Upanishad, The Theosophical Publishing House, Chennai, ISBN 978-0835673181
  35. ^ Constantina Rhodes (2011), Invoking Lakshmi: The Goddess of Wealth in Song and Ceremony, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-1438433202,
    Quote: Through illusion,
    A person can become disconnected,
    From his higher self,
    Wandering about from place to place,
    Bereft of clear thought,
    Lost in destructive behavior.
    It matters not how much truth,
    May shine forth in the world,
    Illuminating the entire creation,
    For one cannot acquire wisdom,
    Unless it is experienced,
    Through the opening on the heart.[...]
  36. ^ a b c J. A. B. van Buitenen (Translator), Cornelia Dimmitt (Editor), Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas, Temple University Press, ISBN 978-0877221227, pages 95-99
  37. ^ a b Ludwik Sternbach (1974), Subhasita, Gnomic and Didactic Literature, A History of Indian literature, Volume 4, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447015462
  38. ^ Ludwik Sternbach (1974), Subhasita, Gnomic and Didactic Literature, A History of Indian literature, Volume 4, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, ISBN 978-3447015462, page 22
  39. ^ Christopher John Fuller (2004), The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691120485, page 41
  40. ^ Pages 31 and 32 in Kinsley, David. Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. ISBN 978-0-520-06339-6
  41. ^ Srimad Devi Bhagwata Purana
  42. ^ Vidya Dehejia and Thomas Coburn, Devi: the great goddess : female divinity in South Asian art, Smithsonian, ISBN 978-3791321295
  43. ^ Anna Dallapiccola (2007), Indian art in detail, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0674026919, pages 11-27
  44. ^ Stephen Knapp, Spiritual India Handbook, ISBN 978-8184950243, page 392
  45. ^ a b Pratapaditya Pal (1985), Art of Nepal: A Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0520054073, page 120
  46. ^ a b Vidya Dehejia (2009), The Body Adorned: Sacred and Profane in Indian Art, Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0231140287, page 151
  47. ^ Hermann Jacobi (Editor: Max Muller, Republished with edits by Mahendra Kulasrestha), The Golden Book of Jainism, ISBN 978-8183820141, page 213
  48. ^ Vera, Zak (February 2010). Invisible River: Sir Richard's Last Mission. ISBN 978-1-4389-0020-9. Retrieved 26 October 2011. First Diwali day called Dhanteras or wealth worship. We perform Laskshmi-Puja in evening when clay diyas lighted to drive away shadows of evil spirits. 
  49. ^ Diwali Encyclopædia Britannica (2009)
  50. ^ Jean Mead, How and why Do Hindus Celebrate Divali?, ISBN 978-0-237-534-127
  51. ^ Pramodkumar (March 2008). Meri Khoj Ek Bharat Ki. ISBN 978-1-4357-1240-9. Retrieved 26 October 2011. It is extremely important to keep the house spotlessly clean and pure on Diwali. Lamps are lit in the evening to welcome the goddess. They are believed to light up her path. 
  52. ^ Solski, Ruth (2008). Big Book of Canadian Celebrations. S&S Learning Materials. ISBN 978-1-55035-849-0. Retrieved 26 October 2011. Fireworks and firecrackers are set off to chase away evil spirits, so it is a noisy holiday too. 
  53. ^ India Journal: ‘Tis the Season to be Shopping Devita Saraf, The Wall Street Journal (August 2010)
  54. ^ "Sharad Poornima". 
  55. ^ a b Charles Russell Coulter and Patricia Turner (2013), Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, Taylor and Francis, ISBN 9781135963903, page 102
  56. ^ Lakshmi Stotra Sanskrit documents
  57. ^ Upinder Singh (2009), A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century, ISBN 978-8131711200, Pearson Education, pages 438, 480 for image
  58. ^ Duffield Osborne (1914), A Graeco-Indian Engraved Gem, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 18, No. 1, pages 32-34
  59. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Jammu & Kashmir". Tribuneindia.com. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Venkatadhvari, , (1904). Sri Lakshmi Sahasram. Chowkhamba Sanskrit Depot, Benares.  (in Sanskrit only)
  • Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions (ISBN 81-208-0379-5) by David Kinsley
  • Lakshmi Puja and Thousand Names (ISBN 1-887472-84-3) by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

External links[edit]