Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India

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Read about Lakshmi at Wikipedia or the Urday website.

LAKSHMI. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] The word occurs in the Rigveda with the sense of good fortune, and in the Atharvaveda the idea has become personified in females both of a lucky and unlucky character. The Taittiriya Sanhita, as explained by the commentator, makes Lakshmi and Sri to be two wives of Aditya, and the Satapatha Brahmana describes Sri as issuing forth from Prajapati.

Lakshmit or Sri in later times is the goddess of fortune, wife of Vishnu, and mother of Kama. The origin ascribed to her by the Ramayana is the one commonly received. According to this legend she sprang, like Aphrodite, from the froth of the ocean, in full beauty with a lotus in her hand, when it was churned by the gods and the Asuras. Another legend represents her as floating on the flower of a lotus at the creation. With reference to this origin, one of her names is Kshirabdhitanaya, 'daughter of the sea of milk.' From her connection with the lotus she is called Padma. According to the Puranas, she was the daughter of Bhrigu and Khyati. The Vishnu Purana says, "Her first birth was the daughter of Bhrigu by Khyati. It was at a subsequent period that she was produced from the sea at the churning of the ocean..

When Hari was born as a dwarf, Lakshmi appeared from a lotus (as Padma or Kamala). When he was born as Rama of the race of Bhrigu (or Parasurama), she was Dharani. When he was Raghava (Ramachandra), she was Sita. And when he was Krishna she became Rukmini. In the other descents of Vishnu she is his associate." One version of the Ramayana also affirms that "Lakshmi, the mistress of the worlds, was born by her own will, in a beautiful field opened up by the plough," and received from Janaka the name of Sita.

Lakshmi is said to have four arms, but she is the type of beauty, and is generally depicted as having only two. In one hand she holds a lotus. "She has no temples, but being goddess of abundance and fortune, she continues to be assiduously courted, and is not likely to fall into neglect." Other names of Lakshmi are Hira, Indira, Jaladhija, 'ocean born;' Chanchala or Lola, 'the fickle,' as goddess of fortune; Lokamata, 'mother of the world.'

Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM