To be blessed with ‘Lakshmi Kadaksham’ is to possess all manner of riches and abundance in Hinduism. Sri Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, and ‘kadaksham’ means ‘glance’. Thus, if Goddess Lakshmi’s glance falls on you, you are very lucky indeed, for she will bestow money, gold, jewels, good clothes, rich repasts, luxuries, beauty, and good fortune.
Sri Lakshmi is the consort of Vishnu, the deity who preserves the universe. There are many myths about her birth. As per the Bhagavad Purana, she emerged when the Milky Ocean was churned for Amrit, the divine elixir. The Shatpatha Brahmana says that she was born from Prajapati’s mouth. Yet another myth says that she was the daughter of Sage Bhrigu and his wife, Khyati. So she is also called Bhargavi.
Sri or Thirumagal is another name for Lakshmi. She has 6 auspicious characteristics and is the Shakti or divine strength of Vishnu. When Vishnu takes various avatars, Lakshmi also follows him to earth as his consort. Sita, Rukmini, and Dharani are some of her avatars.
Goddess Lakshmi represents auspiciousness and prosperity, both material and spiritual. 'Shatpatha Brahmana claims that Shri, the auspicious energy of Vishnu, is the original avatar of Lakshmi. The Gods get their powers from Sri to fulfill their 'lakshya' of preserving the cosmos. Thus, the purpose of human life is tied to Lakshmi or Sri.
Shri Kamala Strotram says that every woman on earth is a symbol of Goddess Lakshmi, be it a little girl, young or old woman.
Symbolism of Lakshmi
Goddess Lakshmi symbolizes sattvik principles. She is draped in a red saree and covered with gold jewelry. She sits on a fully bloomed lotus flower, and many elephants surround her. Her four hands indicate the goals of human life - Dharma/righteousness, Kama/desires, Artha/wealth, and Moksha/liberation from the cycle of birth and death. In one hand, she has a lotus that represents beauty, purity, and fertility. Gold coins flow from another hand, symbolizing material wealth. Her gold-bordered red saree and ornaments remind us to be active and prosper in all that we do.
Goddess Lakshmi’s seat is a lotus that blooms in a marsh. It suggests purity, beauty, and spiritual power. The marsh symbolizes the material world, and the lotus is able to rise above it, just as humans must learn to leave behind the desire for material wealth and aspire for spiritual wealth.
In her upper left hand, she holds a half-blossomed lotus with 100 petals. The number 100 signifies the state of Sadhana. The lotus is red but not fully bloomed. It has some white streaks. The red color symbolizes Rajoguna, the functional aspect, while the white symbolizes Satoguna, the purity aspect. Hence, it symbolizes progress in both the material and spiritual aspects of life. Gold coins drop from her hand to the ground, where an owl sits. This dropping of coins signifies prosperity in all directions or complete prosperity. The gold coins represent money as well as prosperity at all levels.
Lakshmi’s right lower hand shows Abhaya Mudra (the protective pose). Unfulfilled desires create fear, as per the Gita. The Goddess provides deliverance from fears. The right upper hand holds a fully opened lotus with 1000 petals, which is synonymous with sahasra-ra-chakra (the highest stage in Kundalini Shakti’s evolution). The lotus has a red base with a blue tinge. The red signifies "Rajas" while the blue represents 'Akasha' (space). They represent total evolution. Lakshmi wears a red sari. It is the color of Rajas, representing creative activity. The golden border indicates abundance.
The Goddess sits on a lotus. This signifies that one should live in the world but not become possessed by the world. The lotus originates in mud, but its flower is above the mud. This symbolizes detachment and evolution. The owl, Lakshmi’s mount, is often shown sitting on the Goddess’ left side, where the gold coins are falling. The bird represents darkness, as it is a night bird. It represents the perversion of values that often accompany material prosperity. Excessive attachment to wealth reveals ignorance (darkness). It disturbs the social balance. Those who lose balance when they find themselves with too much wealth can become a nuisance to themselves and society.
There are four white elephants showering water drawn from the ocean on Lakshmi in her images. This water is in golden vessels. The elephants represent the four directions—North, South, East, and West. The white color represents purity. Elephants also symbolize wisdom in Hinduism.
The four elephants pouring water from golden vessels on the Goddess signifies that the chain of Purushartha (human endeavor) should be continuously strengthened with purity, wisdom, and charity.
To sum up, Goddess Lakshmi represents not only prosperity but also the things we need to do to attain Moksha and self-realization.
Goddess Lakshmi's Birth Story
The Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Purana describe the birth of Lakshmi during the Samudra Manthan. This is a very auspicious day in the Vedas. The story goes that Sage Durvasa gifted a garland to Indra, which he received from Shiva. Indra took it and kept it on the trunk of his elephant, which flung it to the ground. This enraged Durvasa, who cursed Indra and the other gods, saying that they would lose all their wealth and luxuries. Soon, the gods lost their wealth and became weak and feeble. They were defeated by the demons in battle. To regain health, they needed Amrit, the nectar of immortality, which lay in the depths of the Milky ocean.
The Gods joined hands with the demons to churn the ocean to acquire Amrit. They used Mount Mandara as a rod and Vasuki, the serpent, as the churning rope. Vishnu took the 'Kurma'(giant turtle) avatar to support Mandara on his back. Many marvelous things emerged from the ocean during the churning, like Kamadhenu, the wish-granting cow, Kalpavriksha, the wish-fulfilling tree, the Parijata tree, and so on. Goddess Lakshmi was also one among them. After emerging from the ocean, she accepted Vishnu as her consort and went to live with him in Vaikunta. In the presence of Lakshmi, the Gods regained their lost wealth and prosperity. They also became immortal after drinking Amrit and regained their supremacy over the demons.
As per the Vedas, Lakshmi rules the planet Venus or Shukra, which represents wealth, beauty, luxuries, etc. Lakshmi is worshipped on Fridays. If Vishnu represents the highest level of self-realization, Lakshmi takes us towards this goal by helping us to achieve our desires. Lakshmi signifies the eight facets of our nature that we need to realize. These facets are reflected in the 8 forms of Lakshmi or Ashtalakshmi. They are prosperity and abundance (Dhana Lakshmi), nurturing and progeny (Santhana Lakshmi), animal wealth (Gaja Lakshmi), health and support (Dhanya Lakshmi), creativity and success (Vijaya Lakshmi), strength and courage (Dhairya Lakshmi), pure knowledge and wisdom (Vidya Lakshmi), and spiritual awakening (Adi Lakshmi). Tantrik texts hold Lakshmi in great importance, but they refer to her as Maha-Lakshmi. While Sri Lakshmi is Vishnu’s consort and the Goddess of wealth, Maha Lakshmi is an independent deity who is the Supreme Mother Goddess. Unlike Lakshmi, Goddess Maha-Lakshmi is depicted as a warrior-goddess who rides a lion, like Durga. This form of Lakshmi is worshipped more in Maharashtra.