The depiction of Goddess Lakshmi as a beautiful, graceful woman with a pleasant smile sitting on a lotus, her body decked with precious jewels and cascades of gold coins flowing out from her hands --- is symbolic of her energies which attract good fortune, beauty, peace and prosperity.
The popular image of Lakshmi correlates the description (mentioned in scriptures) of her emergence during the churning of the Ocean of Milk. She was one among the 14 precious things that emerged during the process when the Gods and demons were spinning mount Mandara to churn the ocean for extracting the nectar of immortality.
Goddess in Ancient Texts
References of Goddess of good fortune, prosperity and fertility have been found in many ancient texts and scriptures. However, the Goddess is referred as Sri, whose description and energies are quite identical to Lakshmi. Sri, just like Lakshmi, is referred as the consort of Vishnu, the preserver God among the Hindu Trinity.
Sri Suktam is a Sanskrit devotional hymn enshrined in Rig Veda, the oldest collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, revering Sri. In the hymn the Goddess is described as one who shines like gold, blazing with splendor. She sits on a lotus and wears garlands made of gold and silver. She is the embodiment of wealth and absolute bliss. The Goddess is unfailing and her blessings bring wealth and prosperity in plenty.
Shatapatha Brahmana, an ancient text on Vedic rituals composed between 800 BC and 300 BC, mentions that Sri emerges from Prajapati as a result of his intense meditation. She is described as a beautiful, resplendent woman with immense power and energy.
Symbolism of Lakshmi
Among the many Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu pantheon, Lakshmi is the most popular. She has always been associated with wealth and good fortune; however, wealth here is not restricted to finances, rather it means higher values and qualities which bring contentment and fulfillment in life-- the true wealth of life.
The four hands of the Goddess represent Dharma (duty), Artha (material wealth), Kama (desire) and Moksha (salvation). The wealth bestowed by the Goddess helps us in fulfilling our necessities and desires so that we can focus on our duty and higher goals in life and work towards self-realization and final liberation.
The Goddess is seen sitting or standing on a full-bloom lotus, signifying purity and beauty of Lakshmi. She is holding a lotus bud in her hand which symbolizes awakening and spiritual growth. The white elephants standing on either side of the Goddess pouring water signify adherence to Dharma at all costs.
The owl, Lakshmi’s vehicle symbolizes ignorance which the Goddess always keeps under her control.
Devotees of Lakshmi are always wealthy for they have experienced the true wealth of life.
Connecting with the Prosperity Goddess
Fridays are particularly considered auspicious to connect with the energies of Goddess Lakshmi. On the fourth, fifth and sixth day of the nine-day Navratri festival the Divine Mother is propitiated in the form of Lakshmi.
Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated on a New Moon day is another auspicious day to invoke the blessings of the Goddess to dispel darkness of ignorance to make way for all round prosperity in our lives.
Read our related articles: Should We Worship Hindu Goddess Lakshmi only for Wealth