She is described as being “cow-repelling, antelope-footed, [and] bull-toothed." Or she “has [a] dry shriveled up body, sunken cheeks, thick lips, and beady eyes and that she rides a donkey." She sometimes takes the form of an owl that is portrayed accompanying Lakshmi. It is believed the owl is the representation of “arrogance and stupidity that often accompanies fortune [brought by Lakshmi] and heralds misfortune.” It is for this reason that Lakshmi's devotees are wary of the owl. There are many myths surrounding her origins. One legend says her sister was born from the radiance of Prajapati’s face, while Alakshmi was born from his back. Another says her sister was born from the churned ocean of milk, while she rose from the Kalakuta poison dripping from Vasuki Nāga’s mouth. Still others simply say both were born from the ocean of milk, but Alakshmi is always the oldest of the two. According to one source, “It was said that when she entered a household, Alakshmi brought jealousy and malice in her trail. Brothers fell out with each other, families and their male lineages (kula) faced ruin and destruction."
According to one story, Alakshmi was upset because her younger sister was wife to Vishnu and was living in the Vaikuntha paradise, while she had neither husband nor abode. Lakshmi then decreed “Mrityu, god of death, decay, and degeneration will be Alakshmi’s husband and she will dwell wherever there is dirt, ugliness, sloth, gluttony, envy, rage, hypocrisy, greed and lust.”
Connection with other goddesses
A book on the Nakshatra constellations says the deity of the nineteenth lunar mansion of Mula is Nirriti, the goddess of destruction who has the power to “ruin, destroy or break things apart (barhana shakti).” It also says Nirriti commonly takes the form of the goddess Kali. Alakshmi is another name for Nirriti.
- "Chapter X Samudra mathana". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-10-24.
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- Krishna, Nanditha. The Book of Vishnu. Penguin Global, 2001 (ISBN 0670049077)
- Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe. Princeton University Press, 2000 (ISBN 0691049092)
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