Shri Mahalakshmi is widely revered in India as the goddess of abundance, auspiciousness, and beauty. The name Lakshmi is synonymous with Sanskrit words like “saubhagya” (good fortune), “samriddhi” (prosperity), and “saundarya” (beauty). Shri represents the principle of auspiciousness and abundance, and Mahalakshmi refers to the supremely transcendent Goddess.
Shri Mahalakshmi showers various kinds of bounty on her devotees—she bestows abundant blessings, brings forth benevolence and good fortune, and grants knowledge. As Siddha Yogis, we can understand that the prosperity Mahalakshmi grants is as much an inner wealth as it as an outer one; she supports us to create a beautiful world, both internally and all around us. Our innate virtues, the sadguna, reflect divine qualities of the Goddess, and when we make self-effort to affirm and cultivate these virtues in our actions, she imparts her blessings as the fruits of sadhana.
Goddess Mahalakshmi is believed to have taken birth out of the churning of the Ocean of Milk (Kshīr-slāgar maṇthan), a mythical event in the Indian scriptures, depicting the struggle between the gods and demons for amrit, the elixir of life. When Goddess Lakshmi emerged from this churning of the ocean, all the gods and demons beheld this beatific, beautiful, and benevolent form of the Goddess with awe and reverence. On a symbolic level, the churning represents our struggle between succumbing to our inner demons and strengthening our virtues, and the Goddess is symbolic of God’s grace, which protects our inner virtues and sustains them as a divine force.
In classic images of Shri Mahalakshmi, she is shown as emerging from the ocean of supreme Consciousness, firmly established on a lotus flower, which represents purity and spiritual knowledge. Elephants, symbolizing strength, are shown offering worship to her. The Goddess has many arms, each holding a symbolic object: a discus (chakra) to decimate her enemies; a flower (pushpa), indicating that she bestows knowledge; a conch-shell (shankha) with which she makes auspicious proclamations; and a stream of gold coins to represent her blessings, the prosperity she grants at all levels, and the commitment of those who worship her to sustain the abundance and beauty she brings to our lives. Like most other major gods and goddesses, Mahalakshmi also has a vehicle (vāhan). Her vehicle is the owl (uluka), a bird known for its qualities of vigilance and strategic perception.
Goddess Mahalakshmi is described as the eternal companion of Lord Vishnu—the sustaining force of the universe—and, acting as his creative energy, she carries out his divine purpose. She is traditionally said to have eight forms—the Ashtalakshmi—and each of these forms represents a particular facet of her abundant grace. For example, as Shri Adi-Lakshmi she is the goddess who is at the root of everything sentient and insentient; as Shri Vijaya-Lakshmi she blesses the struggles of her devotees and grants them victory and successful outcomes. Another form of Mahalakshmi is known as Shri Santana Lakshmi, in which the goddess is the beneficent mother who is a fierce protector of her children. On the Siddha Yoga path, we honor the Ashtalakshmi in June, the month of Gurumayi’s Birthday. (To read more about each of the eight forms of Mahalakshmi, click here).
Through the ages, the sages and saints of India have composed many hymns and songs praising the Goddess, adoring her beauty, and extolling her generosity and compassion. By focusing on the beneficent image of Shri Mahalakshmi, we recognize and invoke the Goddess as a manifestation of the divine cosmic energy. Verse 7 of Shri Mahalakshmyashtakam Stotram says:
padmāsana-sthite devi parabrahma-svarūpiṇi ।
parameśi jagan-mātar mahālakṣmi namo ’stu te
mahālakṣmi namo ’stu te ॥
O Goddess, seated on a lotus, embodiment of the Absolute, Brahman,
O supreme Goddess Mahalakshmi,
Mother of the universe, salutations to you.1
Many people worship the Goddess in the form of Shri Mahalakshmi every day; however, special prayers are offered to her during the festivals of Navaratri, the “nine nights” of the Goddess, and Deepavali, the celebration of God’s light illuminating our homes and lives. For seekers of the Truth, worshiping Shri Mahalakshmi with love and devotion carries great significance in their sadhana, their spiritual journey. To express devotion to Shri Mahalakshmi is to honor a form of the indwelling Goddess Kundalini Shakti, who is awakened by the Siddha Yoga Guru, continually guides our sadhana as living grace from within.
During this time of Navaratri, we can honor Shri Mahalakshmi by reciting hymns like Shri Mahalakshmyashtakam Stotram, recognizing her presence in Mother Nature, and cultivating the sadguna, the virtues, throughout the activities in our daily life.
The depiction of Mahalakshmi is by the Indian Artist Raja Ravi Varma, and was made in 1896.