Lakshmi

Other Names: Kamala

Other forms: Lakshmi is usually depicted as sitting or standing on a red lotus flower, with bright red clothes, surrounded by plenty of material wealth (gold, coins etc.), elephants, and oil lamps (diya). Sometimes, when shown with reclining Vishnu, She is shown near His feet (Shesha-Shayee Vishnu).

Significance: Lakshmi is the Shakti (power) of Vishnu, the preserving aspect of the Supreme Lord. It is through Her that the universe is kept in harmony. She is the provider of all material things to sustain the universe and hence, popularly She is worshipped as the mother Goddess of wealth and prosperity. She is also the mother Goddess of beauty, harmony and balance.

Lakshmi's origin is connected with churning of cosmic ocean by two groups, divine force on one side and anti-divine forces on the other side. It simply means our successes and material prosperity come as a result of constant efforts, sometimes very hard efforts.

She is seated on a red lotus, which represents the spiritual foundation from which all material creation manifests. It means all potential can be turned into actualities by our own inner power. When She is shown at the feet of Vishnu, it means Her powers are really His, and are to be used for His purpose. Our own real self (Atman) is no different than the Supreme Lord so, Atman has the same powers as the Lord. As Vishnu uses His Shakti for the preservation of the universe we should also use our Shakti (wealth etc.) to help the world. By excessive hoarding of the wealth and not using it for the benefit of world, we are not contributing to the work of Vishnu. Elephants pouring water signifies inexhaustible divine wealth and when our wealth and other abilities are used for others/divine purpose, they continue to grow.

Of the three Goddesses worshiped during Nava-Ratri festival, middle three days are specifically for Lakshmi pooja. It is only after Durga (Kaali) has removed obstacles (negativity), that Lakshmi can establish prosperity, harmony and balance in ourselves, and only then can our minds turn towards still higher things such as acquiring wisdom (Saraswati).