Kanakadhara Stotram (Sanskrit: कनकधारा स्तोत्रम्, kanakadhārā stotram) is a hymn (Stotra) composed in Sanskrit by Adi Sankara. kanakadhārā means "stream" (dhārā) of "gold" (kanaka), and the hymn is called by this name since legend has it that when Adi Sankara recited it, Goddess Lakshmi appeared in front of him and unleashed a stream of gold.
The hymn was written in the 8th century CE by Adi Sankara, a revered Hindu philosopher and theologian. Sankara took Sanyasa (renunciation) at the age of eight.
One day, as a young boy, he was on bhiksha for alms to prepare his lunch and happened upon the doorstep of a very poor Brahmin lady. Having nothing edible in her home, the lady frantically searched her house, only to find a single amla (Amalak, gooseberry) fruit which she then hesitantly offered to Sankara. Sankara was so moved by the incredible kindness and selflessness of this woman that he burst forth into poetry and sang 21 stanzas in praise of Goddess Lakshmi. Pleased by the beauty and power of the hymn, the Goddess appeared before him and asked him why he had remembered her. Sankara pleaded with the Goddess to reverse the fortunes of this lady's family by granting her riches. At first, Goddess Lakshmi refused to do so, saying that the lady had not been charitable in her previous birth and was bound by the laws of karma to have a fate bound to poverty in her current birth. Sankara implored the Goddess that the lady's act of absolute selflessness should absolve her of her sins of the past and that Lakshmi was the only one capable of changing the fate of someone by erasing or changing the writings of the future made by Lord Brahma. Goddess Lakshmi was so pleased that she instantly showered the lady's house with goose berries made of pure gold.
The stanza that contains the purport of Sankara's imploration to Goddess Lakshmi is among the most important ones in this hymn:
दद्याद् दयानुपवनो द्रविणाम्बुधाराम्
अस्मिन्नकिञ्चनविहङ्गशिशौ विषण्णे ।
दुष्कर्मघर्ममपनीय चिराय दूरं
May She (Goddess Lakshmi) bestow (upon us) a stream of wealth through the wind of her mercy,
For I, utterly destitute and downcast by poverty, am as helpless as the newborn child of a bird,
May She (Goddess Lakshmi) remove forever the heat I suffer due to the sins of my past,
O, beloved of Narayana, may your eyes rain upon me (the shower of your mercy.)
The 21 stanzas of kanakadhārā stotram then became famous and are read by all devout Hindus for wellbeing.
The hymn contains a description of the beauty, personality, power and graciousness of Goddess Lakshmi. Sankara does not distinguish between the three Goddesses of Hinduism. For him Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati are the same.