by Jayaram V
Lakshmi is the consort of Mahavishnu, the resplendent goddess of wealth and provider of all material comforts, who was born from the milky ocean when the gods and demons
churned it in search of ambrosia and was presented to Vishnu as a gift. She is generally shown seated on a lotus flower holding lotus flowers in two hands while the other two remain in abhaya (assurance) and varada (giving) mudras (gestures) respectively. Two elephants stand on either side spraying water through their
raised trunks. Some times she is shown in the company of Maha Vishnu and sometimes showering gold coins upon her devotees. The owl is her vehicle, the symbolim of which we have already explained in our articles on the symbolic significance of Hinduism. The owl stands symbolically for intelligence, ill omen or bad luck and an unusual life style characterized by loneliness and fear which are also interestingly the companions of the rich and famous.
Aspects of Lakshmi
Lakshmi has many aspects which generally correspond the various forms of wealth. Traditions recognizes eight forms collectively known as Ashtalakshmis (eight
Lakshmis), each representing a particular type of wealth, namely: Adilakshmi
(First), Dhanyalakshmi (crops), Dhairyalakshmi (courage), Gajalakshmi (elephants), Santanalakshmi (children), Vijayalakshmi (victory), Vidyalakshmi (education), and Dhanalakshmi (riches).
Whenever Mahavishnu incarnates on earth in a human form, Lakshmi incarnates along with Him and plays her part in restoring Dharma. She incarnated as Padma When Vishnu incarnated upon earth as
Vamana, as Dharani when he incarnated as Parasurama, as Sita when he incarnated as Rama and as Rukmini when he incarnated as Krishna.
Lakshmi is worshipped during Diwali festival by most Hindus with a lot of fanfare. Traditionally Indian businessmen, merchants and traders, open their annual account books
after worshipping her in their offices and business establishments on this occasion.
Suggested Further Reading