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Hindu God: Lakshmi

Background and History

  • Hinduism is an ancient religion from India. Hinduism believes in a variety of gods, many of which are often in contention with one another for power over regions of the universe. Each 'God' has different physical features and different powers and tasks to perform which are explained in the mythologies of India. Many of the Hindu gods date back several thousand years while others, which are said to be manifestations of other gods or newly created gods entirely, are more modern. Lakshmi is one of these Hindu 'Gods'.
  • Lakshmi is the traditional consort to the great Hindu god Vishnu. Vishnu is the symbolic ideal king of the cosmos, as he pervades over all things and sustains the universe. Therefore, his consort should be equally important and symbolic of royalty. Lakshmi is the ideal female married consort within the Hindu pantheon. She is also known as Shri and is often called Shri Lakshmi, which indicates that she is both highly regarded and possessing the name Shri, which designates a man or woman of high esteem and wealth.
  • All of Vishnu’s incarnations on earth have an associated female incarnation of Lakshmi. For example, the well-known and popular god Rama, who is the ideal king in classical Indian and Hindu mythology, is married to Sita, who is considered to be the equivalent to the ideal queen and consort. As such, Sita is the incarnation of Lakshmi. Therefore, even in human form, Vishnu and Lakshmi remain together.

Role in Hindu Society

  • Lakshmi is a very old goddess. She dates all the way back to the Vedas and has always been intimately associated with royalty and prosperity. To this day, she is considered the goddess of wealth and kingship. Lakshmi may bestow blessings to protect devotees from losing wealth. Her beauty and business-importance has led to her position as one of the most popular goddesses in modern India. Most homes will have an image or statue of Lakshmi setup for propitiation.
  • Her most popular form is the image of her flanked by elephants who are showering her with water from their trunks. Traditionally, being sprinkled by water from elephants is a symbol of royalty and importance. Lakshmi nearly always stands on an open pink lotus and has four arms. Her hands often hold more lotus flowers, which also symbolize her divinity.