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Lakshmi: The Goddess of Good Fortune
To honor our roots in ancient Indian and Ayurvedic tradition, we’re continuing our series of sketches on revered Hindu goddesses. Last week, we wrote about shakti, or the divine feminine energy that brings balance and life to the universe. Meditating on shakti reminds us of the centrality of womanhood and mothering to the continuation of life on this earth.
Stories about goddesses are not only fascinating myths and sources of religious worship, but they also remind us of the values women can channel with intentionality into their everyday lives. Ayurvedic tradition teaches us the profound effects of mindfulness on helping us establish balance and cultivate self-love. When we turn to the lessons and values these goddesses teach us with mindful awareness and openness, we can experience groundedness and a renewed celebration of our individual womanhood.
Today, we’re featuring Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune whose guiding hand over success, wealth and flourishing is far from superficial.
The Story and Symbolism of Lakshmi
Lakshmi is a very popular and common household goddess in Hindu mythology, in part because she lords over the qualities that give one’s life comfort, luxury and fulfillment. She is also worshipped during Diwali. Regarded as the wife of Vishnu, she is the goddess of wealth, power, fertility, beauty, luck and more. Her symbolization of wealth is not only material, but also spiritual, as she holds the promise of deep inner contentment and self-love.
Furthermore, for one to reap the good fortune of Lakshmi’s blessings, one must worship her sincerely and act in ways that are driven by hard work and virtue rather than superficial greed. The story of Lakshmi’s rebirth emphasizes the necessity of rejecting greed and arrogance in favor of humility. According to Hindu legend, Indra, the warrior god tasked with protecting the world from demons, arrogantly threw sacred flowers to the floor which were offered to him by a sage. Lakshmi, upset by Indra’s arrogance, fled to the Milky Ocean, leaving the gods to lose their good fortune and for the world to become dark and greedy. In order to bring Lakshmi back and restore blessings and goodness to the world, Vishnu instructed the gods to churn the Milky Ocean. After 1000 years of churning, Lakshmi was finally reborn, allowing for the demons that had taken over the world to be vanquished. Lakshmi’s rebirth story reminds us that wealth and good fortune can only be acquired through patience and hard work, and that pride and entitlement lead to destruction.
Lakshmi is often depicted sitting or standing on a lotus flower, which represents self-understanding and success. Behind her are typically one or two elephants anointing her with water. She has four arms, which represent four major goals in Hinduism: dharma (good conduct), kama (desire), artha (earning honest wealth) and moksha (or samsara, transcending birth and death).
We can channel the spirit of Lakshmi to all our endeavors, whether personal or professional. When we apply ourselves with hard work and intentionality, we can manifest the goals we set for ourselves and experience profound balance and contentment.
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