Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth.As the power and consort of Vishnu, the preserver. According to the puranas, she was the incarnated daughter of the sage Bhrigu and his wife Khyati. She was later born out of Ksheer Sagar (ocean of milk) while being churned. Hence, her appellation, Ksheera Samudra Raja Tanaya. As consort of Vishnu, she is born as his spouse whenever he incarnates. When Vishnu appeared as Vamana, Parasurama, Rama, Krishna, she appeared as Padma or Kamala, Dharani, Sita and Rukmini. She is as inseparable from Vishnu as speech from meaning, or knowledge from intellect, or good deeds from righteousness.
Lord Narayana/Vishnu/Hari husband of Lakshmi, an embodiment of Shuddha Sattwa, is the preserver of the world. He is also called the Ashta Lakshmi Padhi. Lakshmi has 8 avatars (incarnation):
- Adi (Protector) Lakshmi,
- Dhana (Wealth)Lakshmi ,
- Dhanya ( Food and Grains) Lakshmi,
- Vijaya (Victory) Lakshmi,
- Vidhya (Knowledge) Lakshmi,
- Santana (Offspring) Lakshmi,
- Dhairya (Bravery and Strength) Lakshmi,
- Soubhagya (Sumangali- Long life of husband) Lakshmi.
All becomes the embodiment of an ideal woman.
Vara Lakshmi Vrata – Ritual
The importance or significance of the Varalakshmi Vrata was narrated by Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvathi in Skanda purana. Those who perform this Vratam will be blessed wtih Dhana (food), Dhanya (food), Aayu (Long life), Aarogya (health), Aishwarya (wealth), Santanana (progeny) and Soubhagya (long life of husband).
- The preparation for the festival begins the prior evening, when a stage for the puja is set after having cleaned the entire area.
- The day begins with rangoli and sacred head baths just as any other festival and is marked by the performance of “Varalakshmi Vrata” by the women folk of the house. Worshiping Vara Lakshmi is rendered equivalent to Ashta Lakshmi puja.
- A bronze or silver kalasam, with water, akshatas and a couple of coins, is taken and five betel leaves are placed on to it
- The kalasam is smeared with sandal paste and kum-kum is applied at five places. On this is placed a round coconut smeared with turmeric to which kum-kum is applied.
- A new cloth or saree is tied to the Kalasam and is worshiped as Vara Lakshmi.
- Women folk of the house traditionally worship this Vara Lakshmi the next day, with Ashtottaram and Sahsranamavali.
- The legend of the vratam is once again memorized in devotion and a “toram” of Nine threads and nine knots is tied to the Goddess first and then to the right wrist of the worshipers.
- The puja is concluded with the distribution of this prasadam and Tamboolam to the married women in neighborhood. It also is customary for these women folk to visit the temples of the Goddess towards the evening
Legend has it that Goddess Parvati has once asked Lord Siva about a vratam, performing which would render the women on the earth blessed with all kinds of wealth. Then did Lord Siva preach of “Vara Laksmi Vratam” to be performed on a Friday that comes just before the full moon day in the month of Sravanam. Illustrating the sanctity of the vratam, Lord Siva narrated the story of Charumati of Maratha kingdom, which runs like this -
Once upon a time, there lived a gracious and wise Brahmin lady called Charumati in the Maratha kingdom, a town that had golden houses and golden walls. Charumathi was a Maha Pativrata, indulged in a whole-hearted worship of her husband and looked after her in laws with utmost respect. Pleased with her good nature, Goddess Lakshmi happens to appear in her dream and advises her to perform the Varalakshmi vratam on Sravana sukla sukravaram preceding the full moon day. Charumathi prostrates in devotion to the Goddess in the dream itself and the next morning illustrates the dream to her husband and in-laws. With their consent, she tells the same to a few more women folk of the town and they together wait the day.
The much-awaited day finally comes and they set stage to worship the Goddess Vara Lakshmi at one corner of the house, which is cleaned up with cow dung. All of them perform the puja to the Kalasam with all devotion and piety, tie the toram to their wrists and offer prasadam to the Goddess. Then does the miracle start as they go about to take the Pradakshinas after the puja. They see themselves bedecked with various ornaments one at a time as – anklets on feet for the first, bracelets for the second and various other ornaments for the final pradakshina. Excited about the blessing of Vara Lakshmi, they once again prostrate to the Goddess and honor the Pundit with due Dakshina and conclude the vratam by taking the prasadam.
As the women folk stepped out of the house do they see their houses decked with all riches and golden chariots awaiting them outside Charumati’s house. Extremely happy about what all had happened; the women thank Charumati for having shared her luck with them. Ever since then is the Vara Lakshmi Vratam performed in every household on this auspicious day.
Legend also say that the vratam was later also preached by sage Suta to Sounaka and other sages. Another legend is that Chitranemi who was one cursed by Parvati for having made a partial judgement in favour of Shiva when asked to play the referee for their game, got relieved from the curse by having watched this vratam performed by some pious women. Such is the sanctity of the Vrata.
Lakshmi Ashtaka with Meaning :
नमस्तेऽस्तु महामाये श्रीपीठे सुरपूजिते ।
शङ्खचक्रगदाहस्ते महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥१॥
Namastestu Mahaa-Maaye Shrii-Piitthe Sura-Poojite |
Shangkha-Cakra-Gadaa-Haste Mahaalakssmi Namostute ||1||
1.1: (Salutations to Devi Mahalakshmi) Salutations to the Mahamaya (the Great Enchantress), Who is Worshipped by the Devas in Sri Pitha (Her Abode).
1.2: Who has the Conch, Disc and Mace in Her Hands; Salutations to that Mahalakshmi.
नमस्ते गरुडारूढे कोलासुरभयंकरि ।
सर्वपापहरे देवि महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥२॥
Namaste Garudda-Aaruuddhe Kola-Aasura-Bhayamkari |
Sarva-Paapa-Hare Devi Mahaalakssmi Namostute ||2||
2.1: (Salutations to Devi Mahalakshmi) Salutations to the One Who Rides the Garuda, Who is the Terror to Kolasura,
2.2: The Devi who Removes All Sins; Salutations to that Mahalakshmi.
सर्वज्ञे सर्ववरदे सर्वदुष्टभयंकरि ।
सर्वदुःखहरे देवि महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥३॥
Sarvajnye Sarva-Varade Sarva-Dusstta-Bhayamkari |
Sarva-Duhkha-Hare Devi Mahaalakssmi Namostute ||3||
3.1: (Salutations to Devi Mahalakshmi) Who is All-Knowing, Who is the Giver of All Boons, Who is the Terror to All the Wicked,
3.2: The Devi who Removes All Sorrows; Salutations to that Mahalakshmi.
सिद्धिबुद्धिप्रदे देवि भुक्तिमुक्तिप्रदायिनि ।
मन्त्रमूर्ते सदा देवि महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥४॥
Siddhi-Buddhi-Prade Devi Bhukti-Mukti-Pradaayini |
Mantra-Muurte Sadaa Devi Mahaalakssmi Namostute ||4||
4.1: (Salutations to Devi Mahalakshmi) The Devi who Gives Success and Intelligence and Gives Wordly Enjoyment and Liberation,
4.2: The Devi who Always abides as the Embodiment of Mantra; Salutations to that Mahalakshmi.
आद्यन्तरहिते देवि आद्यशक्तिमहेश्वरि ।
योगजे योगसम्भूते महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥५॥
Aad-Anta-Rahite Devi Aadya-Shakti-Maheshvari |
Yogaje Yoga-Sambhuute Mahaalakssmi Namostute ||5||
5.1: (Salutations to Devi Mahalakshmi) The Devi who is Without Beginning and End, Who is the Primal Energy, and the Great Goddess,
5.2: Who is Born of Yoga, Who is United with Yoga; Salutations to that Mahalakshmi.
स्थूलसूक्ष्ममहारौद्रे महाशक्तिमहोदरे ।
महापापहरे देवि महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥६॥
Sthuula-Suukssma-Mahaaroudre Mahaa-Shakti-Mahodare |
Mahaa-Paapa-Hare Devi Mahaalakssmi Namostute ||6||
6.1: (Salutations to Devi Mahalakshmi) Who is both Gross and Subtle and Most Terrible, Who is With Great Power and Prosperity,
6.2: The Devi who Removes All Sins; Salutations to that Mahalakshmi.
पद्मासनस्थिते देवि परब्रह्मस्वरूपिणि ।
परमेशि जगन्मातर्महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥७॥
Padma-Aasana-Sthite Devi Para-Brahma-Svaruupinni |
Parameshi Jagan-Maatar-Mahaalakssmi Namostute ||7||
7.1: (Salutations to Devi Mahalakshmi) The Devi Who is Seated on a Lotus, Who is of the Nature of Supreme Brahman,
7.2: Who is the Supreme Lord and the Mother of the Universe; Salutations to that Mahalakshmi.
श्वेताम्बरधरे देवि नानालङ्कारभूषिते ।
जगत्स्थिते जगन्मातर्महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥८॥
Shveta-Ambara-Dhare Devi Naana-Alangkaara-Bhuussite |
Jagatsthite Jagan-Maatar-Mahaalakssmi Namostute ||8||
8.1: (Salutations to Devi Mahalakshmi) The Devi who is Dressed in White Garments, Who is Adorned with Various Ornaments,
8.2: Who Abides in this Universe and is the Mother of the Universe; Salutations to that Mahalakshmi.