Goddess Lakshmi and the Art of Giving and Receiving

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Goddess Lakshmi and the Art of Giving and Receiving

November 24, 2022 | Total Views : 86
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Goddess Lakshmi is a very popular Goddess in Hinduism. She is the consort of Vishnu, one of the Trimurtis. Though there are very few temples for the worship of Lakshmi, Hindus give great importance to the Goddess, who has the power to bestow wealth, prosperity, good fortune, and all luxuries. Her popularity is evident from the fact that her ‘Shri’ is written on top of most documents. It is used to address a God, a holy man, a teacher, or any respected person. It is a word that evokes many things like grace, abundance, auspiciousness, prosperity, and authority.

As one of the Supreme Mother goddesses, Lakshmi’s origin goes back to pre-Vedic times. Lakshmi is mostly present along with Vishnu in temples. In Sri Vaishnavism, an offshoot of Vaishnavism (Vishnu cult), there is no Vishnu without Lakshmi, who is the mediator between her husband and his devotees. Devotees request Vishnu’s grace or forgiveness through the Goddess, who is like a compassionate mother.

Lakshmi embodies spiritual fulfillment and the spiritual world, called Vaikuntha, which is the heavenly abode of Lakshmi and Vishnu. As Lakshmi-Narayana, the divine couple represents the union of Vishnu’s creative energy and the primordial Prakriti who creates the universe.

The Garuda Purana says that Lakshmi is Prakriti or Goddess Mahalakshmi), and has 3 forms — Sri, Bhu, and Durga. These 3 forms embody the 3 Gunas - Sattva (goodness), Rajas (passion), and Tamas (darkness). They help Vishnu/Purusha to create, preserve, and annihilate the entire universe.

Goddess Lakshmi is regarded as the primordial Goddess in the Lakshmi Sahasranama of Skanda Purana and Lakshmi Tantra. These texts claim that Durga, Mahalakshmi, Mahakali, and Mahasaraswati, as well as all the Shaktis that emerged from all the Gods, like the Matrikas and Mahavidyas, are but different forms of Goddess Lakshmi.

Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Parvati are distinct entities in most parts of India, but in Odisha and West Bengal, they are all forms of Durga. In South India, Lakshmi has two forms, Sridevi and Bhudevi, both consorts of Venkateshwara, who is a form of Vishnu. While Bhudevi represents the material world or Mother Earth, Sridevi represents the spiritual world.

Ashtalakshmi – The 8 forms of Lakshmi

Ashtalakshmi is a group comprising 8 secondary forms of Lakshmi. They are Dhana Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Dhairya Lakshmi, Santhana Lakshmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Vidya Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi, and Adi Lakshmi. Ashta Lakshmi is associated with eight kinds of wealth and represents the 8 powers of Shri Lakshmi.

Benefits of Worshipping Lakshmi

Goddess Lakshmi is dear to those who seek wealth. But the wealth she represents is both material and spiritual. Lack of money can be a big handicap in life. For this reason, people focus on acquiring wealth and hoarding it. This comes from a mindset that is rooted in fear and lack. This poverty mindset prevents us from enjoying our blessings. When we are given something in abundance by God, we have a duty to share it with the less fortunate. Sadly, not many people share this belief which is one reason why there is so much poverty, suffering, and inequality in the world today.

By worshipping Lakshmi, we can cultivate a mindset of abundance and generosity. Lakshmi has a reputation for fickleness. She does not stay long in one place. If you look around you, it is obvious. People become millionaires overnight by a stroke of luck. Elsewhere, billionaires become paupers overnight. This is the fickle nature of Lakshmi and what she represents – wealth.

The moment you understand this, you realize that material wealth is impermanent. What truly matters is spiritual wealth. Our spiritual assets are the only things that accompany us into the afterlife when we die. Our goodness, purity, kindness, compassion, generosity, honesty, and so on form the real and permanent wealth we need to accumulate during the journey of life.

In the western world, the wealthiest men give away most of their wealth to charity during their lifetime. Philanthropism is deeply embedded in the West. But, curiously, their wealth does not deplete. All religions speak of the spiritual merit of performing charity. It is often said that what you give returns to you doubled or trebled. This is the work of the Lakshmi principle. It is heartening to find that philanthropists are increasing in India, too, and some of them are quite young and not very rich either.

The ability to give and receive depends on our own beliefs. Do you feel worthy of love? Do you think you deserve gifts? Do you believe that others also deserve the same gifts? Achieving an auspicious state of mind depends on the answers to these questions. If you think you deserve good things, and if you give because you feel that others deserve them too, you can achieve this auspicious state. In this state, you can feel Lakshmi flowing through you. It manifests as a sense of abundance, a feeling of gratitude, and the desire to see others do well. At this point, you can feel Lakshmi’s energy coursing through you.

Lakshmi’s Generosity

Lakshmi’s compassion, generosity, and empathy are illustrated in a touching story. Lakshmi and Vishnu were the main deities at a temple for high-caste people in Varanasi. On one Diwali, Lakshmi paid a visit to the untouchables in town and gave them food and money. She bestowed her favors on them without any discrimination, though they did not worship her, being barred from the temple.

On hearing that Lakshmi was keeping company with the untouchables, Vishnu became angry. So she left the place and went to live with some sweepers. Soon, the sweepers began to prosper. They had plenty of food and money now.

Meanwhile, Vishnu’s temple fell into ruins, as the community was no longer bringing any offerings in Lakshmi’s absence. Even the trees began to wither. A desperate Vishnu met Lakshmi and pleaded with her to return. She agreed after extracting a promise from him that he would not curtail her freedom to dispense her blessings.

Those who believe that the Universe is filled with abundance and are happy to share are like Lakshmi. They give freely out of love and with all their heart and soul. They do not expect anything in return. They are blessed with abundance always, as a result.

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