Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of Wealth, Prosperity and Beauty, was born in the sea, Lord Vishnu, her husband-to-be, discovered her when he dove to the bottom of the ocean in his avatar as a turtle, seeking the nectar of immortality, The most precious treasure he found was Lakshmi. Vishnu married her in Heaven, and many times over on Earth.
Their union is passionate and productive. She is the female energy of Lord Vishnu, the incarnation of feminine beauty, grace and charm. She provides the abundance that maintains and preserves his creation. The divine couple travel everywhere on the back of mighty Garuda, the eagle.
Beloved by women who think of her as mata or mother, Lakshmi is the household goddess of most Hindu families. She is always shown as a beautiful woman dressed in red, the color of energy and activity. Her dress is encrusted with rich gold embroidery. Her four hands represent the four ends of human life: dharma (righteousness), kama (genuine desires), artha (wealth) and moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death).
Her right, rear hand holds a lotus bud, symbol of beauty, fertility and spiritual power. The left holds a bilva fruit, reminding us that wealth and spiritual purity are the fruit of righteous labor. The shower of golden coins from her left, front hand depicts the prosperity that Lakshmi bestows upon on her devotees. Her right, front hand is raised in blessing for all who seek her.
An elephant attends her, watering her bilva fruit in its golden vessel. Two carved elephants frame her, kneeling on pillars. Elephants symbolize the power and fame that may come with worldly wealth. The shower of water stresses that material and spiritual wealth are earned by continuous effort, and that the fruit of such labors is to be shared.
Lakshmi mirrors the lotus flower on which she stands. Rooted in mud, the exquisite blossom floats atop the water, unsullied by the soil from which it draws life. She has attained perfect equilibrium between the physical and spiritual worlds. She leads us toward the golden balance between material and spiritual wealth.
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