Sri Matre Namaha
Bhakta-sowbhagya-dayini – The One Hundred & Seventeenth name in Lalitha Sahasranamam.
bhaktebhyah saubhagyam (susthibhagyam tasya bhavah) dadatiti tatha
She who showers prosperity on the devotees.
Saubhagya: The word means Lalita herself is identical with saubhagya one of the eight auspicious objects described in the AgP.
Or, the word saybhagya may mean the saybhagyadastakas as they are used on auspicious occasions and they confer prosperity
Susthu bhagyam yasya tasya bhavah saubhagyam
Here the word su means good or much and bhagya means fortune. She brings good fortune to the devotees.
She who gives all good and luck to her devotees
She confers prosperity on her devotees. There is a reference to ‘sowbhagya ashtagam’ (eight things that gives prosperity) in Agni purana. They are sugarcane, peepul tree, jeera seeds, coriander, cow’s milk and its modifications curd, butter and ghee, everything that are yellow in colour, flowers and salt. All these indicate auspiciousness and prosperity.
When we talk about good luck and prosperity we are often reminded of goddess lakshmi.
Is she good only to her devotees?I doubt it.Let me narrate the story of lakshmi and you will see that not only does she brings good and luck but determines the worth of everyone.
Draped in a red saree, bedecked with gold ornaments, seated on a lotus, pot in hand, flanked by white elephants, the image of Lakshmi adorns most Hindu homes and business establishments.Lakshmi, also called Laxmi, is the goddess of wealth, fortune, power, luxury, beauty, fertility, and auspiciousness. She holds the promise of material fulfillment and contentment. She is described as restless, whimsical yet maternal, with her arms raised to bless and to grant her blessings.
Shri is the sacred name of Lakshmi. Shri is written atop most documents and spoken before addressing a god, teacher holy man or any revered individual. The word evokes grace, affluence abundance, auspiciousness and authority. When the word is spoken or written an aura of holiness is established. Whatever follows is imbued with divine blessing. Just as the word “Om” is associated with the mystical side of life, Shri is associated with the material side of existence.Lakshmi represents the beautiful and bountiful aspect of nature. As Bhoodevi, the earth-goddess, she nurtures life; as Shreedevi, the goddess of fortune, she bestows power, pleasure and prosperity on those who deserve her grace. To realize her, one must respect the laws of life and appreciate the wonders of existence.In the beginning, there was water everywhere. There was nothing to eat and nowhere to live. Prajapati, the divine patriarch, father of the gods and demons saw the plight of his children and invoked Devi.
The goddess whispered into his ear, “The earth lies trapped under the water. Raise it up.”
Prajapati took the form of a mighty boar called Emusha, plunged into the sea and found the earth-goddess Bhoodevi on the ocean floor. Placing her on his snout, he gently raised her to the surface.
Prajapati then turned into Akupara, a giant turtle and offered Bhoodevi a seat on his back.
Seated on the celestial turtle, the earth-goddess nurtured life in her bountiful arms. She offered food and shelter to all.
The devas, gods, admired her beauty; the asuras, demons, craved her wealth. They fought many a battle over her. Finally, under the leadership of Bali, the asuras emerged triumphant.
Impressed by Bali’s strength, the goddess came to him as Shreedevi and crowned him king of the earth. She offered him a throne, a footstool and held a parasol over his head.
Shreedevi’s sacred white elephants turned into clouds and sprinkled life-bestowing rain upon the earth, watering fields and pastures so that crops grew abundantly and cows gave plenty of milk. Everyone was happy with Bali as their king.Power made Bali arrogant. He declared, “The earth belongs to me; I can give anyone anything he desires.”
These words greatly disturbed the earth-goddess. She belonged to no one and certainly not a commodity to be given to away as a gift.
Indra, leader of the devas, meanwhile, bereft of Shreedevi’s grace had been reduced to poverty. He approached Bali and begged for some land. To mock him, Bali pointed to Vamana the dwarf and said, “I shall give you as much land as this little one can cover in three strides.” Vamana was no ordinary dwarf but rather an incarnation of vishnu the preserver. As soon as Bali said this, Vishnu began to grow in size, he turned into a giant who strode across and claimed all of Bali’s Kingdom in two steps. With his third step vishnu shoved Bali into the nether region.Vishnu thus wrested control of the earth for the gods.”The gods may lack strength, but they are intelligent. I shall go to them.” So saying, Shreedevi turned away from Bali and went to the gods. She blessed the gods with ruling majesty, material prosperity, physical health, bodily beauty and divine fortune.
Angry and bitter in defeat, the demons rasped, “Shreedevi is Chanchala, the fickle one. Once she favored Bali, now she favors Indra. She is faithful to none.”
“That is not true,” said the goddess, “I am eternally faithful to he who does not abuse my gifts.”
Vishnu, who had conquered the earth for the gods, let Indra become king. “Don’t you want to be lord of the universe and enjoy the splendors of the cosmos?” asked Shreedevi.
“I desire nothing. By defeating the demon Bali, I have done my duty. I seek no reward for it.”
These words of Vishnu pleased Shreedevi.The goddess said, “He who takes good care of the earth-goddess Bhoodevi, wins the affection of Shreedevi, goddess of fortune and becomes king of the cosmos.”
But Indra did not heed her words. Soon after being crowned king, the leader of the devas, he retired to the pleasure gardens. There, he drank wine, enjoyed song and dance and neglected his royal duties.
The earth, left ungoverned was plundered.
Bhoodevi’s lamentation fell on deaf ears. This made Shreedevi very angry. She turned away from Indra.“Wealth and power corrupted the demon-king. Now, pleasure and comfort has weakened the god-king. Neither holds on to dharma for long. Neither deserves my grace.” So saying, the goddess dissolved herself in the ocean of milk.
Instantly a gloom descended upon the world: it no longer reverberated with song and dance. Weapons lost their power, gems their luster, men their vigor. Cows did not give milk, fields became barren, and trees bore neither flower nor fruit. The cosmos became a desolate place bereft of joy and laughter.The goddess’s disappearance caused panic in the three worlds.
“We must bring her back,” said the gods.
“But how?” wondered the demons.
“By churning the ocean of milk,” said Vishnu.With Mandara, king of mountains, as the spindle and Akupara, king of turtles as the base, the devas and the asuras created the cosmic churn. Using Vasuki, the king of the serpents as the churning rope, they began churning the ocean of milk.The churn twisted and turned, the ocean frothed and fumed, waves roared and spewed foam in every direction. Eons passed. Nothing emerged. But the gods and demons were determined to bring the goddess back and continued to churn the great ocean.
Pleased by their efforts, the goddess finally emerged as aLakshmi, the desirable one, in all her splendor.
Seated on a dew drenched Lotus, dressed in red silk, bedecked in gold, she was the very embodiment of affluence, abundance and auspiciousness.
As she rose, rasa, life giving sap, began flowing in every direction. The earth palpated with life. Joy filled the air.
The gods saluted her; the demons sang songs to her glory.
Sacred elephants who hold up the sky came from the eight quarters of the universe raised their trunks and consecrated her with life sustaining water.Along withLakshmi rose Alakshmi, the goddess of barrenness and misfortune from the churning of the ocean milk. She was ugly with matted hair, sunken cheeks, shriveled breasts and coarse limbs.
Said the goddess, “Lakshmi will dwell where there is nobility and righteousness, cleanliness and beauty, virtue and compassion. Alakshmi will dwell elsewhere, attracted by sloth, envy greed, lust and pride.”
And so it is that people who wish to keep Alakshmi away keep their houses clean, their bodies beautiful and their minds pure.With Lakshmi came a cow called Kamadhenu with enough milk to feed the world for all eternity, a wish fulfilling gem called Chantamani and a tree called Kalpataru that bore every flower and fruit desirable. In her hand she held the basket of bounty: the Akshaya Patra overflowing with grain and gold.With Lakshmi appearance from the ocean of milk came Kama the delightful god of pleasure. Riding his parrot surrounded by bees and butterflies, this handsome god raised his sugarcane bow and shot arrows dripping with desire into the heart of every being. He roused the senses, excited the mind and inspired the heart.
With Kama came Priti and Rati, goddess of love and longing and Vasantathe lord of the spring. Wherever they went flowers bloomed bees buzzed to welcome them with offerings of nectar and pollen.
Behind Lakshmi stood Rambha, the beautiful nymph who knew 64 ways to pleasure the senses and Sura, the goddess of intoxicants who could soothe tired nerves and enchant the mind with dreams.Along with Lakshmi came the six tusked, white skinned elephant, Airavata and the seven-headed flying horse, Ucchaishrava. The gods claimed the elephant, the demons claimed the horse.The goddess also brought forth a throne, a crown, a footstool, a parasol, a fly-whisk, a cushion, a fan, a bow and a conch. “These symbols of kingship,” she said, “will go to a worthy being, one who will use power to preserve and protect life.”
“Give them to me,” said Indra the king of gods. “No you are too obsessed with pleasure,” said Lakshmi. “Give them to me,” said Bali King of demons. “No wealth corrupts you and makes you arrogant.”
Lakshmi sought someone who would not succumb to the allure of power, pleasure and prosperity; someone strong, wise and virtuous, capable of using force, charm and guile with discretion to uphold the laws of life. She choseVishnu.Lakshmi placed Vaijayanati, the fragrant garland of victory roundVishnu’s neck and made him her consort. He became known as Shreenatha, beloved of fortune.Vishnu placed Shreevasta, the symbol of Lakshmi on his chest.
Their abode, Vaikuntha, became the pivot of the universe.Vishnu battled the forces of chaos and corruption and diligently performed his duties as guardian of the world, pleasing Lakshmi who rewarded him with her love and affection, tending to his every need as his devoted wife.
Though retained by Vishnu as his consort, Lakshmi remained an avid devotee of Lord Shiva. An interesting legend surrounds her devotion to this god:
Every day Lakshmi had a thousand flowers plucked by her handmaidens and she offered them to the idol of Shiva in the evening. One day, counting the flowers as she offered them, she found that there were two less than a thousand. It was too late to pluck any more for evening had come and the lotuses had closed their petals for the night.
Lakshmi thought it inauspicious to offer less than a thousand. Suddenly she remembered that Vishnu had once described her breasts as blooming lotuses. She decided to offer them as the two missing flowers.
Lakshmi cut off one breast and placed it with the flowers on the altar. Before she could cut off the other, Shiva, who was extremely moved by her devotion, appeared before her and asked her to stop. He then turned her cut breast into round, sacred Bael fruit (Aegle marmelos) and sent it to Earth with his blessings, to flourish near his temples. Tradition also associates Lakshmi with Kubera, the ugly lord of the Yakshas. The Yakshas were a race of supernatural creatures who lived outside the pale of civilization. Their connection with Lakshmi perhaps springs from the fact that they were notable for a propensity for collecting, guarding and distributing wealth. Association with Kubera deepens the aura of mystery and underworld connections that attaches itself to Lakshmi.
Yakshas are also symbolic of fertility. The Yakshinis (female Yakshas) depicted often in temple sculpture are full-breasted and big-hipped women with wide generous mouths, leaning seductively against trees. The identification of Shri, the goddess who embodies the potent power of growth, with the Yakshas is natural. She, like them, involves, and reveals herself in the irrepressible fecundity of plant life, as exemplified in the legend of Shiva and the Bael fruit narrated above, and also in her association with the lotus.
In a mythological sense her fickleness and adventurous nature slowly begin to change once she is identified totally with Vishnu, and finally becomes still. She then becomes the steadfast, obedient and loyal wife who vows to reunite with her husband in all his next lives. As the cook at the Jagannatha temple in Puri, she prepares food for her lord and his devotees. In the famous paintings on the walls of the Badami caves in central India, she sits on the ground near where her lord reclines upon a throne, leaning on him; a model of social decorum and correctitude.
The most striking feature of the iconography of Lakshmi is her persistent association with the lotus. The meaning of the lotus in relation to Shri-Lakshmi refers to purity and spiritual power. Rooted in the mud but blossoming above the water, completely uncontaminated by the mud, the lotus represents spiritual perfection and authority. Furthermore, the lotus seat is a common motif in Hindu and Buddhist iconography. The gods and goddesses, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, typically sit or stand upon a lotus, which suggests their spiritual authority. To be seated upon or to be otherwise associated with the lotus suggests that the being in question: God, Buddha, or human being-has transcended the limitations of the finite world (the mud of existence, as it were) and floats freely in a sphere of purity and spirituality. Shri-Lakshmi thus suggests more than the fertilizing powers of moist soil and the mysterious powers of growth. She suggests a perfection or state of refinement that transcends the material world. She is associated not only with the royal authority but with also spiritual authority, and she combines royal and priestly powers in her presence. The lotus, and the goddess Lakshmi by association, represents the fully developed blossoming of organic life.
Sakthi is known by different names in different countries around the world.
Harappa seal No.279 : Human figure with a foot on a buffalo’s nose, grasping a horn with one hand and thrusting a spear into its back.
Dordogne, France nude female holding a buffalo horn in her upraised hand.
Nubia: Temple of Nagar – Goddess slaughtering a demon, with her raised sword, a lion in the background, a snake symbol over her head and winged angels above.
Japan: Juneiti Kannon or cundi and Juntei Butsubo – the mother of millions of Buddhas – Sapta koti buddha matri.
Jains accepted Ganesh, Saraswati & Laxmi.
Buddhists accepted Tara, Laxmi, Ganesh and Mahisasura Mardini in the form of Vajra Varahi in Tibet and Markula in Lahaul.
Tara – Pre-Vedic Savior Goddess, known from India to Ireland
In Tibetan, she is called Dolma or Do’ma, When her cult developed exactly is unknown. The Chinese pilgrim Hsuan Tsang who visited the north Indian region between 633 and 645 reports describing, a Tolo image in a temple near Nalanda Buddhist University to which the general population was particularly devoted.
In China cosmic union, Sacred Marriage, is represented by the square in circle MANDALA, shown in YAB-YUM statues of continuous union
Durga/Kali (death) among whose followers were the Thugs – as Sara-Kali she was worshipped by gypsies in France as the Black Virgin or Virgin Mary.
The Roman goddess MENS (Bright Moment/Mind) is associated with Shakti and menstruation.
Shekina is the feminine aspect of God and is the Jewish Cabalist version of the Hindu Shakti, who when joined to Her male counterpart forms the perpetual cosmic union the star of David which is the Tantric mandala of Shiva (the upward pointing triangle) and Shakti (the downward pointing triangle). The concept of Shekina appears in the medieval ages associated with the celebration of the Shabat.