You know, in India we worship a number of deities. All nicely categorized, benefit-wise. Hindu Mythology is rich in stories. And regardless of who believes or does not – one has to admit that the stories are amazing, interesting, riveting and very mesmerizing. As children we grow up listening to these and in some sense, these stories shape our character, one way or other.And so, we visit temples regularly as places of worship. I am fascinated by these awe-inspiring monuments. Each time I visit a temple, I am filled with wonder at the detailed work that has gone into the sculptures and dressing them up. Belief is a wondrous thing.
This week, let me introduce you to the “Ashtalakshmi” which literally means Eight Lakshmis. Ashta = Eight. Lakshmi is worshipped as the goddess of wealth. She is the consort of Lord Vishnu in Hindu Mythology.
Here’s a brief note about the Ashtalakshmi before I show you photos from a temple.
Ashta Lakshmi, also spelled as Ashtalakshmi (“eight Lakshmis”), is a group of eight Hindu goddesses, secondary manifestations of Shri-Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, who preside over eight sources of wealth: “Wealth” in the context of Ashta-Lakshmi means prosperity, good health, knowledge, strength, progeny, and power.
The Ashta Lakshmi are always depicted and worshipped in a group in temples.
- Adi Lakshmi (“Primeval Lakshmi”) or Maha Lakshmi (Sanskrit: Mahā Lakṣmī, “Great Lakshmi”) : an ancient form of Lakshmi.
- Dhana Lakshmi (“Money Lakshmi”): for money and gold
- Dhanya Lakshmi (“Lakshmi as goddess of grain”): Giver of agricultural wealth.
- Gaja Lakshmi (“Elephant Lakshmi”): Giver of animal wealth, like cattle and elephants. According to Hindu mythology, Gaja Lakshmi brought back the wealth lost by Indra (king of demi-gods) from the ocean.
- Santana Lakshmi (“Progeny Lakshmi”): Bestower of offspring
- Veera Lakshmi (“Valourous Lakshmi”) or Dhairya Lakshmi (“Courage Lakshmi”): Bestower of valour in battles and courage and strength for overcoming difficulties in life.
- Vijaya Lakshmi (“Victorious Lakshmi”) or Jaya Lakshmi Giver of victory, not only in battles but also in conquering hurdles in order to beget success.
- Vidya Lakshmi (“Knowledge Lakshmi”): the bestower of knowledge of arts and sciences
In some Ashta Lakshmi lists, other forms of Lakshmi are included:
- Aishwarya Lakshmi “Prosperity Lakshmi”) : Goddess of riches
- Saubhagya (“Giver of good Fortune”) : Giver of prosperity in general.
- Rajya Lakshmi (“Royal Lakshmi”): “She who blesses rulers (with secular power)”
- Vara Lakshmi (“Boon Lakshmi”): “The lady who bestows Beautiful Boons”.
So – in most Hindu families, in the prayer room (as in ours) we have a picture depicting the Ashta Lakshmi and specially worship her forms on Fridays and festival days. 🙂
Now, on to the photos! These are from the temple at the Vishwa Shanti Ashram which is especially known for the AshtaLakshmi shrines and their huge size. These ladies are taller than I. 🙂 and quite resplendent in their beautiful silk sarees. Forgive me for not labelling who’s who -my son Vidur is far better at nomenclature than I. To see the photos in their original size, click the images to open in a new window.
Ashta Lakshi at Vishwa Shanti Ashram
|A lovely anthill we saw on the way|
And now, let’s travel the world together. Our first stopover is at Unknown Mami, for it is she who holds the itinerary for today’s trip.
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