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Lakshmi

Cleanliness is next to Godliness after all.

After a hard day’s work when man enters the portals of his home, chaos, misery, wants, poverty and disease are the last things he would want to see. A wife whose smile beams with kindness, comfort and contentment is the most sought after sight that a man seeks. Even a humble home with modest means can transform into an abode of peace and serenity, in the hands of an able woman. A hassle free existence, clean surroundings with abundance of the simple pleasures of life is what truly makes a house a home!

When the universe was created, life was created too. What is a life? A body that clothes the soul; an energy that enables life to create itself! However, for this energy to be sustained, some form of preservation is required. A living organism thrives on food that gives it energy to perform certain functions. Similarly, the soul also needs something to feed on and that alone is spirituality.

Vishnu in the Hindu pantheon represents the power of maintenance. Taking this concept to a family setup, once a family unit is established by virtue of a marriage and once children enter the scene, maintenance of this unit becomes imperative. One can’t live with fresh air and water! Wealth needs to be created to sustain life.  Mahavishnu embodies ‘Uttamapurusha’ or the complete man, whose primary duty is to fend for his wife and family by striving to create wealth. When an active force works outside, another nurturing force is needed to keep body and soul intact. The worship of Lakshmi the feminine force becomes self-explanatory.

Who is Lakshmi?

The common man knows her as Vishnu’s consort, the Goddess of wealth. But there’s more to her than what meets the eye! In South India, the prospective in-laws, when satisfied with the endearing personality of their daughter-in-law, express their happiness by exclaiming, “The bride is Mahalakshmi personified. She looks radiant like Mahalakshmi herself!”

And true to this exclamation, Mahalakshmi is portrayed as a beautiful woman with a benevolent smile, radiating hope! Seated on a lotus, she sometimes is depicted with two elephants on her sides, with their trunks raised, as though paying homage to her!

The lotus is a symbol of purity and integrity and undoubtedly is chosen as India’s national flower. The lotus in spite of growing in a dirty pond, blossoms radiantly, promising hope. Even as the dirty waters touch the petals and leaves of the lotus, they just trickle off, for such is the texture of the petals and leaves! Man in spite of his grave circumstances can grow spiritually, unperturbed by his surroundings! This is the wisdom contained in the lotus bloom!

Like the lotus bloom, unsullied by slush surrounding it, man’s aim is to strive to be liberated from cycles of births and deaths, liberated from the bonds of attachments and desires. Ironically, Lakshmi-the Goddess of wealth, seated on a lotus bloom portrays just this wisdom! Hinduism unlike other world religions never condemns desires or a family life or accumulation of wealth. Creating wealth does have its own importance in Hinduism, but becoming the slave to desires and wealth is what Hinduism condemns.

Lakshmi as the Goddess of wealth also speaks volumes of the wealth of the spirit. Her radiant and beaming smile conveys hope and also contentment! The world’s richest are also the most troubled. And not always do riches come from only accumulation of wealth. Inner peace, contentment, integrity of the self, the containment of the senses all signify wealth!

The icon of Lakshmi portrays her one hand showering gold coins. She is thus Dame Fortune. The western tale of the greedy man on whom fortune smiled and showered with gold coins that his pocket would hold, sought more, till ultimately the overflowing pocket spilt a coin or two. And with that Dame Fortune disappeared with all the coins turning into ashes! A life overflowing with simple pleasures is certainly welcome than an impoverished spirit.  

Lakshmi arose when the mighty ocean was churned to gather nectar. This signifies that attaining wealth is not an easy task. The sweet nectar that equates to toil, has to be churned with the mind, intellect and body working in collaboration!


 

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