In the Vedas, goddess Lakshmi is described as “bhukti-mukti pradayini”, which is Sanskrit for “she who bestows both worldly success and spiritual liberation” - and this is the most accurate description of who Lakshmi is.
The Importance of Lakshmi
Lakshmi is one of the most important deities in Hinduism. She is considered the household goddess, meaning she is the most important deity to families, is always present in the home and is worshiped daily.
By worshiping her, family’s invite good fortune into the home.
Lakshmi is the goddess of good luck, wealth and prosperity - both in the material and the spiritual sense.
Lakshmi is celebrated as part of Diwali and represents the joys of a bountiful harvest.
Lakshmi embodies the abundance of nature and people celebrate her to invite the wealth of fertile lands.
On a spiritual level, Lakshmi represents spiritual wealth, wisdom, energy, and mental health.
Some view her as the goddess of beauty, sweetness, purity and loveliness - all qualities which come from both spiritual and material wealth.
Read: The Meaning of Diwali
Lakshmi’s Origin Story
Lakshmi was born from the churning of the primordial ocean. She rose out of the turmoil of the waters on a lotus, surrounded by honeybees and budding flowers.
Her grace and beauty made her into a beacon of light, attracting gods and demons alike.
Creatures of all races were infatuated by Lakshmi. Lakshmi gave many of them a chance, but to no avail - a true connection wasn’t formed.
The three gods fought each other over the privilege to be Lakshmi’s companion and Vishnu was victorious.
Upon his victory, Lakshmi chose him as her eternal consort and together the two powerful deities restored balance in the world.
Lakshmi is always by Vishnu’s side and appears in all the myths about Vishnu. Whenever Vishnu has a human incarnation, Lakshmi incarnates alongside him as his wife.
Depictions of Lakshmi in Art
Lakshmi is depicted as a beautiful woman with golden skin and four arms. She’s shown sitting on a lotus in full bloom, holding a lotus bud. The lotuses symbolize fertility, beauty and purity.
The lotus is a powerful symbol in Hinduism: the lotus has its roots in the mud and it grows in murky waters, but the stalk grows tall and rise above, with the wonderful flower blossoming untouched by the dirt.
This is a strong metaphor for rising above the darkness of life, rising above the material through spiritual work, and blossoming unscathed by the dirt of the dark realm of the ego, selfishness, and material wealth.
Lakshmi is associated with the lotus and all its symbolic power.
Lakshmi has four arms, each one signifying a transformative quality in human life:
- The first arm symbolizes dharma - living a moral and ethical life in accordance with cosmic laws.
- The second arm symbolizes kama - desire for both physical and spiritual fulfillment.
- The third stands for artha - material, natural abundance.
- The fourth arm represents moksha - self-actualization.
Read: What's My Dharma?
Lakshmi and Fertility
For a balanced, fulfilled, and spiritual life, both sexes need to be in touch both with their feminine and masculine sides, as qualities of femininity and masculinity reside within all of us.
Men who have trouble connecting with their feminine side might look to Lakshmi for guidance and inspiration.
However, Lakshmi does historically have a special connection to women due to her properties connected to fertility.
Lakshmi is connected to the uterus and women trying to conceive are inclined to look to Lakshmi for help, good luck, and her blessings.
A contemporary devotee must keep in mind that medicine has since shown us that fertility is not just in the hands - or wombs - of the female, as was believed for many centuries.
We now know that a couple might have trouble conceiving because of the infertility of the man and not the woman.
This shifts the tradition and invites men to pray to Lakshmi and meditate on her properties while trying to conceive as well, asking for the blessing of the bodies of both partners, and not just the woman.
Lakshmi’s Teachings and Yoga
To meditate on Lakshmi means to meditate on abundance. Abundance is a concept much greater than what it might seem.
Devoted yogis question this concept and their relationship to it on their path to spiritual fulfilment.
Lakshmi inspires us to contemplate the double meaning of abundance - abundance in the material realm and abundance in the spiritual realm.
Lakshmi doesn’t tell us to let go of our aspirations and ambitions.
On the contrary, Lakshmi is the one we pray to for guidance and help when we want to succeed in the material world, when we want abundance in the form of worldly success.
But, Lakshmi reminds us that spiritual abundance is also abundance.
We pray to Lakshmi when we need guidance for our spirit and for our minds; Lakshmi is the ones who helps us on the path towards enlightenment, the one we pray to for fertility of the mind and spirit, and not just for fertility of the land and body.
Lakshmi never awards those who are lazy, and shuns those who simply ask for her help and pray to her for her wealth.
Lakshmi is the goddess of prosperity - but earned prosperity.
Celebrating Lakshmi is celebrating hard work and earned success.
While celebrating Lakshmi and meditating on the values she represents, a devoted yogi will look at their own life and fortune critically, and evaluate themselves, their work, and the worth of their work.
Lakshmi is on the side of the honest, good, and hard working.
Lakshmi teaches us that good luck doesn’t come to those who wait, but to those who work for it and invite it into their lives by positive actions.
In yoga practice, Lakshmi is connected to the manipura chakra. This chakra is connected to a sense of clarity, self-assurance, wisdom, and prudent decision-making.
Meditating on Lakshmi and her properties aids the yogi who needs help opening the manipura chakra.