Mahalakshmi Puja, Aarti Videos
Lakshmi (Sanskrit:लक्ष्मी, lakṣmī, ˈləkʂmiː) is the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, and prosperity (both material and spiritual). She is the wife and active energy of Vishnu. Her four hands represent the four goals of human life considered important to the Hindu way of life – dharma, kāma, artha, and moksha. 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 the Hindu goddess Lakshmi with minor iconographic differences.
Lakshmi is also called Sri or Thirumagal because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine strength even to Vishnu. When Vishnu incarnated on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi incarnated as his respective consorts: Sita (Rama’s wife) and Rukmini (Krishna’s wife). In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi.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.”
Archaeological discoveries and ancient coins suggest the recognition and reverence for goddess Lakshmi in the Scytho-Parthian kingdom and throughout India by the 1st millennium BC. Lakshmi’s iconography and statues have also been found in Hindu temples throughout southeast Asia, estimated to be from second half of 1st millennium AD.
In modern times, Lakshmi is worshiped 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 honor.
Lakshmi (Lakṣmī) is one of many Hindu deities whose meaning and significance evolved in ancient Sanskrit texts.
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.”
भद्रैषां लक्ष्मीर्निहिताधि वाचि
bhadraiṣāṁ lakṣmīrnihitādhi vāci
“an auspicious fortune is attached to their words”— Rig Veda, x.71.2, Translated by John Muir
In Atharva Veda, composed about 1000 BC, Lakshmi evolves into a complex concept with plural manifestations. Book 7, Chapter 115 of Atharva Veda describes the plurality, asserting 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. The concept and spirit of Lakshmi and 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. In some chapters of Atharva Veda, Lakshmi connotes the good, an auspicious sign, good luck, good fortune, prosperity, success, and happiness.
Lakshmi is one of the trinity of Hindu goddesses. Her iconography is found in ancient and modern Hindu temples.
Later, Lakshmi is referred to as the goddess of fortune, identified with Śrī and regarded as the wife of Viṣṇu (Nārāyaṇa). 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. 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. 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. 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 the wife of Dharma, the mother of Kāma, the sister or mother of Dhātṛ and Vidhātṛ, the wife of Dattatreya, one of the nine Śaktis of Viṣṇu, a manifestation of Prakṛti as identified with Dākshāyaṇī in Bharataśrama, and as Sītā, the wife of Rāma.
In the Epics of Hinduism, such as in the Mahabharata, Lakshmi personifies wealth, riches, beauty, happiness, loveliness, grace, charm and splendor. In another Hindu legend about the creation of universe as described in the Ramayana, Lakshmi springs with other precious things from the foam of the ocean of milk when it is churned by the gods and demons for the recovery of theAmṛta. She appeared with a lotus in her hand, and so she is also called Padmā.
- 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. These roots give Lakshmi the symbolism: know and understand your goal. A related term islakṣaṇa, which means “sign, target, aim, symbol, attribute, quality, lucky mark, auspicious opportunity.”
Symbolism and iconography
Bas relief of Gaja Lakshmi at SanchiStupa, 3rd century BCE.
The image, icons, and sculptures of Lakshmi are represented with symbolism. Her name is derived from Sanskrit root words for knowing the goal and understanding the objective. Her four arms are symbolic of the four goals of humanity that are considered good in Hinduism – dharma (pursuit of ethical, moral life), artha (pursuit of wealth, means of life), karma (pursuit of love, emotional fulfillment), and moksha (pursuit of self-knowledge, liberation).
In Lakshmi’s iconography, she is either sitting or standing on a lotus and typically carrying a lotus in one or two hands. The lotus carries symbolic meanings in Hinduism and other Indian traditions. It symbolically represents reality, consciousness, and karma (work, deed) in the Sahasrara context, and knowledge and self-realization in other contexts. The 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. 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., called in eastern regions of India, signifies the patient striving to observe, see, and discover knowledge particularly when surrounded by darkness., 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.
Manuscript painting of Gaja-Lakṣmī, ca 1780 AD.
In some representations, wealth either symbolically pours out from one of her hands or she simply holds a jar of money. This symbolism has a dual meaning: wealth manifested through Lakshmi means both material as well as spiritual wealth. Her face and open hands are in a mudra that signify compassion, giving, or daana (charity).
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.
Lakshmi has numerous names, and numerous ancient Stotram and Sutras of Hinduism recite her various names. 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: 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, Smriti and Sri. She is also referred to as Jaganmaatha (“Mother of the Universe”) in Shri Mahalakshmi Ashtakam.
Ancient literature on Lakshmi
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. In the 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. Saubhagya-Lakshmi Upanishad synonymously uses Sri to describe Lakshmi.
Stotrams and Sutras
Numerous ancient Stotram and Sutras of Hinduism recite hymns dedicated to Lakshmi. 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,
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
Every woman is an emanation of you.— Sri Daivakrta Laksmi Stotram
Ancient prayers dedicated to Lakshmi seek both material and spiritual wealth in prayers.
Lakshmi features prominently in the Puranas of Hinduism. Vishnu Purana, in particular, dedicates many sections to her and also refers to her as Śrī. J. A. B. van Buitenentranslates 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”.
Subhasita, gnomic and didactic literature
Lakshmi, along with Parvati and Saraswati, is a subject of extensive Subhasita, gnomic and didactic literature of India. Composed in the 1st millennium BC through the 16th century AD, they are short poems, proverbs, couplets, or aphorisms in Sanskrit written in a 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. 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 and ethical and moral questions about personal, social, and political life.
Manifestations and aspects
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.
Lakshmi is seen in two forms, Bhudevi and Sridevi, both at the sides 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.
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. She is also the personification of the spiritual fulfillment. 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.
Ashta Lakshmi (Sanskrit: अष्टलक्ष्मी,Aṣṭalakṣmī, lit. “eight Lakshmis”) is a group of eight secondary manifestations of Lakshmi. The Ashta Lakshmis preside over eight sources of wealth and thus represent the eight 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.
The eight Ashta Lakshmis are as follows:
Gaja Lakshmi at ShravanabelagolaTemple, Karnataka.
|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.|
|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 secondary representations of the goddess include Lakshmi manifesting in three forms: Sri Devi, Bhoo devi, and Neela devi. This threefold goddess can be found, for example, in Sri Bhu Neela Sahita Temple near Dwaraka Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh, and in the Adinath Swami Temple in Tamil Nadu. Sri Devi represents movable assets (called Chanchala), and Bhoodevi represents immovable assets (Achanchala).
Mahalakshmi is also shown presiding over eight forms of wealth, the eight great siddhis (ashta siddhis) of spiritual knowledge or Jnana (Sanskrit: ज्ञान, jñāna).
In Nepal, Mahalakshmi is shown with 16 hands, each holding a sacred emblem, expressing a sacred gesture, or forming a mudra (lotus, pot, mudra of blessing, book, rosary, bell, shield, bow, arrow, sword, trident, mudra of admonition, noose, skull cap, and kettledrum.) In this representation, Mahalakshmi manifests as a kind, compassionate, tranquil deity sitting not on a lotus, but on a lion.
Sampoorna Mahalakshmi Poojan
Shree Maha Laxmi Chalisa – Jai Maa Lakshmi
Creation and legends
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 with Mount Mandhara. The samudra manthan commenced with the devas on one side and the asuras on the other. Vishnuincarnated as Kurma, the tortoise, and a mountain was placed on the tortoise as a churning pole. Vasuki, the great venom-spewing serpent-god, 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.
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 cowKamadhenu, 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.
Celebration in Hindu society
Many Hindus worship Lakshmi on Diwali, the festival of lights. It is celebrated in autumn, typically October or November every year.The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.
Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes and offices. On Diwali night, Hindus dress up in new clothes or their best outfits, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, and participate in family puja (prayers) typically to Lakshmi. After puja, fireworks follow, 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. This festival dedicated to Lakshmi is considered by Hindus to be 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). The Sharad Purnima, also called Kojaagari Purnima or Kumar Purnima, is a harvest festival marking the end of monsoon season. There is a traditional celebration of the moon called the ‘Kaumudi celebration’, Kaumudi meaning moonlight. On Sharad Purnima night, goddess Lakshmi is thanked and worshiped for the harvests.
- Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu, Most important festival absorbed for Sri Lakshmi is Varalakshmi vritha which is performed during the month of Tamil month Aadi (Mid-July to Mid- August), Where a married women fast on the vritha day and perform a vedic ritual during the evening followed by offerings. Other major festival is during Navratri during which 4th,5th and 6th days are declared for Sri Lakshmi and special pooja is performed, vedic hymns and Tamil devotional songs are sung in both in temples and residence. Tamil Nadu also holds many large Temples dedicated to Sri Lakshmi. Few notable temples are Besant nagar Asta lakshmi temple, Vellore sripuram (A Golden temple), Sriranganayagi temple in Srirangam.
Kojagiri Lakshmi puja
In Bengal, Lakshmi is worshiped on Kojagiri Purnima in autumn when the moon is full on the brightest night of the year. Riding on her mount, the great white owl, she 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 fromjaggery, rice, and coconut are used for her ritual worship.
Apart from the autumnal celebration, Lakshmi, along with Alakshmi (her shadow energy), is also worshiped during Diwali in some Bengalicommunities. The goddess Kali of Kalighat in Kolkata is worshiped 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.
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, symbolizing that Lakshmi has entered the house. The roofs are decorated with flower garlands and festoons woven out of paddy stalks. 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, offered to the deity, and then eaten by all.
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. They play a kind of game known as puchi and other country games.
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