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Diwali - Honouring Ashta Lakshmi



Lakshmi represents the qualities of nurturing and protective, bountiful and benevolent Creator or life giving vibrant energy of Shakti, one who offer boundless wealth and generosity. There are eight distinct forms of Lakshmi which are said to meet all of human need and fulfill potential. For this reason, Lakshmi is also known as Jaganmaatha, Mother of the Universe.

Lakshmi is traditionally described “beautiful goddess seated on a chariot, delighted by songs of lustful elephants, bedecked with lotuses, pearls and gems, lustrous as fire, radiant as gold, resplendent as the sun, calm as the moon, mistress of cows and horses”.


The eight forms or sources of wealth, abundance and prosperity are: -

  1. Adi Lakshmi (Primeval) or Maha (Great) Lakshmi – Spirituality, Liberation, Joy, Bliss

  2. Dhana or Aishwarya Lakshmi – Material Prosperity, Wealth, Comfort, Contentment

  3. Dhaanya Lakshmi – Abundant Harvest, Food Grains, Nourishment, Generosity, Health

  4. Gaja Lakshmi – Elephant, Power, Status, Authority, Sentient Beings (Animals/Livestock)

  5. Santana Lakshmi – Progeny, Family, Blessings, Fertility, Creativity, Ancestral Legacy

  6. Veera or Dhairya Lakshmi – Strength, Valour, Courage, Self Restraint, Patience, Overcome Obstacles, Confidence, Willpower, Perseverance

  7. Vidya Lakshmi – Knowledge, Wisdom, Intelligence, Education, Learning

  8. Vijaya or Jaya Lakshmi – Focus, Victory, Success


The names (and mantra chant) of Maha Lakshmi are :-


Om Shri Mahalakshmyai Namaha

  1. Om Shri Mahalakshmi Namaha

  2. Om Dhana Lakshmi Namaha

  3. Om Dhaanya Lakshmi Namaha

  4. Om Gaja Lakshmi Namaha

  5. Om Santana Lakshmi Namaha

  6. Om Dhairya Lakshmi Namaha

  7. Om Vidya Lakshmi Namaha

  8. Om Jaya Lakshmi Namaha


Maha Lakshmi holds the Abhaya mudra with the right hand - fingers held upwards with the palm facing outward in a gesture of fearlessness and the Varada mudra with the left hand -fingers pointed downwards with the palm facing outward in a gesture of offering boons.


The padma chakra (lotus prayer wheel) is also associated with Maha Lakshmi - cycle between anahata chakra at the heart and sahasrara at the crown.


Aṣṭalakṣmi (Eightfold Lakshmi)


Adi Lakshmi


The root word laksh means to understand and know, goal aim or objective and Adi means first. This is the primordial/primeaval form, through which one attains life’s primary purpose - that of freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth. Adi Lakshmi is also known as Moksha Pradayani, one who bestows liberation.


Adi Lakshmi is the embodiment of compassionate support for one who endeavours to live life in pursuit of justice and liberation in unjust times.


Mythology

  • The daughter of sage Bhrigu and consort of Vishnu (also knonw as Narayana). Lakshmi was called upon during the great churning of the sea by Brhigu who beseeched Lakshmi to awaken from the slumber of the Gods and grant liberation to human beings in turmoil during turbulent times.

  • The three gunas (qualities) –sattva, rajas and tamas – originate from Lakshmi

Sattva (peace and harmony) symbolises Saraswati

Rajas (protest/action) invokes to Maha Lakshmi

Tamas (inactivity/dissolution) engenders Maha Kali

  • Adi Lakshmi is the origin of the cosmos and creator of all deities. Adi Lakshmi is a shapeless, formless primordial force that existed when there was nothing, and from nothing Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva were born. In Brahmanda (Brahma: cosmic, Anda: Egg) Purana, it is said that all existence sprang forth from the womb of Adi Lakshmi. There were three eggs that emerged which gave birth to the cosmos.

First egg gave birth to Ambika and Vishnu

Second to Lakshmi and Brahma

Final egg to Sarawati and Shiva


Dhana Lakshmi


In tangible, Dhana Lakshmi represents wealth, gold, land and the intangible qualities are willpower, inner strength, courage, determination and perseverance. The associated ethic is to to work hard, and the highest expression of self is to act with integrity and honour by creating virtuous cycles of positive attributes.


Dhana Lakshmi is a embodiment of of all the universe’s riches and wealth, helping to give sustenance and fulfill the potential of those who resolve to overcome fear of failure and persevere despite all difficulties and hurdles.


Mythology

Lakshmi is angered and frustrated by with Vishnu’s dismissive and casual attitude towards wealth and riches of which Vishnu is unappreciative and ungrateful. Lakshmi leaves the heavens of the Gods, Vaikunta, and descends to Earth. Vishnu follows and while searching for Lakshmi, Vishnu lives humbly and simply amongst the forest dwellers. One day, they meet again but cannot be reconciled as Vishnu is burdened by a debt from which he cannot be freed.

Vishnu had borrowed a loan from Kubera who insisted that debt be fully repaid before Vishnu could depart the forest and return to the heavens and to Lakshmi. For many years, Vishnu tried but failed to settle the debt. In time, Vishnu comes to understand the value of having enough so one can feel and be free. Dhana Lakshmi in observing Vishnu's realisation, proffers an abundance of wealth and good fortune.

Dhanya Lakshmi


Dhanya means blessed life (literally food grains) in recognition that all are equally dependant on food for the survival and for the humility in knowing that brings equity . Agricultural wealth, growth, renewal of the bounty of nature are to be honoured with expressions of gratitude before eating meals or offering food to others in need.


Providing nourishment to all and offering gratitude to the abundance of nature’s harvest is the

divine grace of Dhanya Lakshmi, one who assures of an abundance of food all year round.


Mythology


During the Mahabharata age when the Pandavas were living in exile and food was scarce, Dhanya Lakshmi provided a wooden bowl that was a never-ending source of food and nourishment so that none would go hungry.


Gaja Lakshmi


Gaja means elephant and signifies power and royalty – elephants were used by rulers of ancient India in warfare. In rural communities, cows and bulls are valuable creatures who provide dairy and till the land. Gaja Lakshmi asks that animals and the nature itself treated with love, care, respect and honour.


Mythology

  • Gaja-Lakshmi was born out of the churning of the ocean, the fabled Samudra Manthan and helped Indra regain his lost wealth from the depths of the ocean.

  • Gajendra, the elephant, and Lakshmi would pray together to worship Vishnu. Due to his cumbersome size, Gajendra could not perform as many ceremonies or at the pace as Lakshmi On seeing this, Vishnu asked for Lakshmi’s empathy so that Gajendra wouldn’t feel discouraged. Lakshmi took on different form as Gaja Lakshmi and accepted all of Gajendra’s offerings with grace and patience.


Santana Lakshmi


Santana means progeny, descendants, legacy and symbolises fertility and creativity. Traditionally Santana Lakshmi is invoked by those wishing to grow a sense of family, community and belonging. This form signifies the sacred duty and ferocity of the protective guardian and ancestor.


Veera/ Dhairya Lakshmi


Veera means courage, bravery, valour. This form is a symbol of power, confidence and willpower, leadership and the invocation of the strength to overcome obstacles on the path of one’s material and spiritual life.


Dhairya Lakshmi is one who grants the fearlessness needed to persevere through life’s challenges and encourages a determined frame of mind and courageous spirit.


Mythology


There lived a king named Bhoja Rajan who ruled his dominion without opposition and his subjects were contented, happy and fulfilled. The King was reverently devoted to Lakshmi. In his dream, Lakshmi appeared to him and told him that seven of her eight avatars would have be withdrawn from his kingdom. He could choose one most needed. After careful consideration, the king made up his mind. He chose Dhairya Lakshmi to retain strength and courage necessary for governing the people.


Vidya Lakshmi


Vidya means knowledge and this form is the giver of knowledge of the arts and sciences. In cultivating inherent qualities, Lakshmi unlocks potential and thereby enables material and spiritual enlightenment.


The growth of self-understanding reduces self-doubt, fear and insecurity. This form offers insight and knowledge to foster mental resilience, fortitude, and strong will. This avatar provides divine wisdom to those seeking transformation of all layers of the self, life and the universe.


Vijaya Lakshmi


Vijaya means victory in life’s struggles and through hope and inspiration, one finds affirmation, validation and success. This avatar manifests to conquer life’s challenges with tenacity and fortitude.


Mythology


A mortal human called Vidya Rannar worshipped Lakshmi with devotion and deep meditation. Lakshmi was honoured and before blessing him with a boon, Lakshmi tested him. Lakshmi told him that he was born at an inauspicious time and for that reason he woudl not enjoy or benfit from life's bounty. Vidya Rannar was not deterred by this prediction and remained true to his faith and devotion. Lakshmi blessed Vidya Rannar with the abundance of wealth, power, dominion and status. Vidya Rannar was free and not attached to grip of materialistic desires. He choose to dedicate the wealth and prosperity in building a kingdom for Lakshmi called Vijayanagara Empire (also called the Karnata Kingdom).


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