Lakshmi is the partner of the Hindu god Vishnu and the goddess of wealth and purity. She is one of the most popular of all of the Hindu goddesses.
Lakshmi is represented in human form as a beautiful woman with four arms, standing upon a lotus flower. Behind her typically stand one, or sometimes two elephants, which are anointing her with water. She is also often shown with her partner Vishnu, sitting beneath him and massaging his feet.
The Story of the Churning of the Milky Ocean
One of the most interesting stories in Hindu mythology is that of the Churning of the Milky Ocean. In this story of the gods’ triumph over the demons, it is Vishnu who saves the day, fulfilling his role as preserver and protector of the universe. However, it is also the story of the rebirth of Lakshmi and the beginning of the love story between the two.
According to the story, Lakshmi left the world of the gods on her own accord and entered into the Milky Ocean after a display of arrogance by Indra, the warrior god. Without Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and purity in their world, the other gods were no longer blessed with success or fortune.
As a result, the world became a darker place and people became greedy. People stopped making offerings to the gods and they began to lose their power until at last, the demons took control.
Indra, the same god who had inspired Lakshmi to leave the world of the gods for the Milky Ocean went to Vishnu for help in overtaking the demons. Vishnu advised Indra that the gods would need to start churning the Milky Ocean in order to bring to the surface a number of lost treasures, including the elixir of immortality and Lakshmi herself.
Vishnu tricked the demons into helping the gods to churn the mighty ocean by offering them a share of the treasures. At Vishnu’s command, the gods and demons used Mount Madura as a churning stick and Vasuki, a giant serpent as a rope. The gods held the tail end of the snake, while the demons held the head of the furious creature. With the serpent coiled tightly around the mountain, they alternated pulling on the rope, causing the mountain to begin to rotate in the water. However, as the gods and demons churned the water, the mountain began to sink into the soft sand bed of the ocean.
Vishnu’s nine incarnations
This is where one of Vishnu’s nine incarnations appears to save the day. At the gods’ request, Vishnu is incarnated as a turtle. He uses his turtle shell as a foundation stone, placing the mountain on his back, which allowed the churning to continue. According to Hindu mythology, some say it took over a thousand years of churning before any of the treasure rose to the surface.
Along with the elixir, the churning also brought to the surface the other treasure, Lakshmi. Lakshmi reentered the world of the gods as a beautiful woman standing on a lotus flower. With the help of her presence, the gods eventually defeated the demons and chased them out of the world.
After this, with all of the gods before her, Lakshmi chose the god that she felt was most worthy of her beauty and companionship. This god was Vishnu and the pair have been inseparable ever since.
Good fortune and success
This story not only highlights Vishnu’s role as protector and preserver of the universe, but also the good fortune and success that his partner Lakshmi bestows upon those who work hard and seek help sincerely. It also warns against arrogance during times of success.
Lakshmi is particularly worshipped during the Hindu festival of Diwali, which celebrates the epic story Ramayana. Ramayana tells the story of Sita, who is believed to be an incarnation of Lakshmi. After worshipping Lakshmi at the celebration of Diwali, many Hindus will gamble or spend large amounts of money, believing that she has bestowed good fortune upon them.