s we discussed at the beginning of this series, Lord Vishnu, the protector aspect of the Brahman requires energy and resources to fulfill the task of sustaining the creations. The energy and resourcefulness is symbolized as a Goddess, emphasizing the sacredness of the feminine aspect of creation. This fact reveals the due respect and recognition shown towards “femininity” in our religion from time immemorial.
Lakshmi is worshipped as the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual. The word ''Lakshmi'' is derived from the Sanskrit word Laksme, meaning "goal." Lakshmi, therefore, represents the goal of life, which includes worldly as well as spiritual prosperity.
In Her images and pictures, Lakshmi is depicted in a female form with four arms and four hands. She wears pink clothes with a golden lining and is standing on a lotus. She has golden coins and lotuses in her hands. Two elephants are shown next to the Goddess. This symbolism conveys the following spiritual theme:
The front (lower) hands signify activity in the physical world. The golden coins falling on the ground from the front left hand of Lakshmi illustrating that She provides wealth and prosperity to Her devotees. Her front right hand is shown bestowing blessings upon the devotees.
The two elephants standing next to the Goddess symbolize ‘name and fame’ associated with worldly wealth. The idea conveyed here is that a true devotee should not earn wealth merely to acquire name and fame or only to satisfy his own material desires, but should share it with others in order to bring happiness to others in addition to himself. This frame of mind to share will be bestowed upon by Divine grace, if the devotee surrenders the name and fame to the goddess. Hence the elephants are shown to be showering the coins on to the Goddess.
Some pictures show four elephants spraying water from golden vessels onto Goddess Lakshmi. The four elephants represent the four ends of human life as discussed above. The spraying of water denotes activity. The golden vessels denote wisdom and purity. The four elephants spraying water from the golden vessels on the Goddess illustrate the theme that continuous self-effort, in accordance with one's dharma and governed by wisdom and purity, leads to both material and spiritual prosperity.
Goddess Lakshmi is regularly worshipped in home shrines and temples by Her devotees. A special worship is offered to Her annually on the auspicious day of Diwali, with religious rituals and colorful ceremonies specifically devoted to Her.
Lakhmi’s form reveals that when a devotee dedicates the worldly possessions to the Divine, utilizes it to perform righteous actions for the overall betterment of all creations, governed by Divine wisdom, the end result would be nothing but a state of eternal bliss.
*Kanayalal Raina is a Brampton based writer who contributes regularly to various Canadian publications. He is working as Executive Director at Canada Hindu Heritage Centre in Canada. An automobile Engineer and MBA (Mktg) by profession he is providing consultancy on Project Management, Financing and Marketing.
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