By Gautam Saha
Most of the times, we are running after money ( dhan ). Money is what makes the world go round, or so it appears. Many a times, this appears to be true. Money enables us to buy goods and services, food, clothing and other basic necessities of life, possessions, home, car, luxuries, etc; Since Laxmi is the goddess of wealth, we worship her to bless us with her favour and benediction. As we are mostly obsessed with money and its acquisition, we do not realize that Laxmi also benedicts us with beauty ( soundarya ) , strength ( bal ), fame ( kirti ), knowledge ( gyan ), and renunciation ( bairagya ). Renunciation is also a sign of Laxmi‚Äôs opulence, but since many of us are so much blinded by gross materialism, we do not credit any importance to the spirit of renunciation and detachment, which is one of the opulences bestowed by goddess Laxmi.
The image of goddess Laxmi in the Indian psyche is one of serenity, beauty, chastity, godliness, dignity, and of course all the material blessings we can think of. Laxmi is the image of the quintessentially ideal Indian woman, venerated by one and all. Every traditional Indian householder lady desires her daughter or daughter ‚Äď in ‚Äď law to be like a Laxmi, having all the qualities of a Laxmi. This is based on the belief that when the daughter or daughter ‚Äď in - law has all the qualities of a Laxmi, the home is filled with all blessings, peace and opulence.
LAXMI IS THE ETERNAL CONSORT OF NARAYAN
The goddess Laxmi is the eternal consort of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Narayan. Sri Narayan is one of the innumerable integrated expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna ( one of His Vishnu tattva expansions ). In His spiritual planet Vaikuntha, the Supreme Lord Narayan resides with His eternal consort Laxmi, in His satchitananda vigraha ( eternally full of knowledge and bliss ) form. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayan, desires nothing from Laxmi, since He is complete by Himself. In the Srimad Bhagavad Gita ( 3.22 ) , the Lord declares : ‚ÄúO son of Prtha, there is no work prescribed for Me within all the three planetary systems. Nor am I in want of anything, nor have I need to obtain anything–and yet I am engaged in work.‚ÄĚ When the Lord desired to create Brahma, the first living being, Brahma was born from the lotus stem growing out of the navel of the Lord in His garbhodakasayi Vishnu expansion, while He was lying down in the vast causal ocean, on the bed created from the body of Seshnag ( or Sankarsana, the multiheaded serpent, the Lord‚Äôs first expansion ).
The Lord could very well have begotten Brahma or other living beings from the womb of Laxmi, who is serving Him eternally and most lovingly, but He created Brahma independent of her, proving His total omnipotence and independence. Hence the Lord is fully self sufficient and does not need any benediction or boon from the goddess Laxmi. The goddess Laxmi on the other hand, cannot for a moment be separated from the Lord, her dearest husband. Just as an afterthought, the concept of Narayan being daridra ( poor ), is absolutely rubbish or nonsensical. Narayan may have at times, playing a role, appeared to be a poor person enacting His many pastimes, as when he appeared before Bali Maharaj as a mendicant brahman, and requested for three steps of land. But any person who knows the opulence of Laxmi cannot for a moment be under the illusion that the Supreme Lord Narayan, whom she is serving eternally, could be poor or in want of anything. The Lord is eternally full with the six primal opulences.
When the Lord descended to earth as Krishna, the cowherd boy, Laxmi also appeared on the earth as Rukmini, and subsequently lived as His first queen in Dwarka, during the Lord‚Äôs final pastimes on earth. When the Lord descended to earth as Ramachandra in eons gone by, Laxmi descended as Sita and became his wife during the Lord‚Äôs pastimes as an ideal man ( purushuttama ) and an ideal king.
It is therefore surprising that most persons, while worshipping or aspiring for Laxmi, either forget or ignore her most well beloved husband, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayan Himself, whom she cannot be separated from, for even an instant. If you were to revere and invite a self respecting lady to come to your home, and at the same time, ignore her dearly loved husband, do you think that this lady will be pleased with you and be favorably disposed towards you, or for that matter, visit you at all ? Besides, even if a devotee of Laxmi directly asks her for some boon, and Laxmi grants that boon, that material opulence is short lived, as Laxmi is by nature capricious ( cancala ).
Srila Prabhupada therefore states ( Srimad Bhagavatam 4.4.25 purport ) : ‚ÄúWhen the goddess of fortune, Laxmi, desired to make the bosom of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayan, her residence, the Supreme Lord conceded to her request and made His bosom her permanent residence, so that the goddess Laxmi could bless His devotees with all opulences. The karmis ( materialists ) also worship Laxmi, but their opulence is flickering and temporary, whereas the opulence of the devotees of Narayan is as permanent as the opulence of Narayan Himself.‚ÄĚ
During His pastimes on earth, the supreme Lord Krishna showed how a poor and penniless brahman like Sudama, by pleasing the Lord immensely by offering just a few grains of chipped rice, which was actually unfit even for human consumption, contrived to make the goddess Laxmi so much obligated to Sudama, that she would have to benedict Sudama life after life with opulence unimaginable even by Indra, the king of the devtas ( demigods ). This is the power of the Lord‚Äôs pleasure. When one offers Narayan some simple food or some service, and the Lord is pleased and accepts the service as a benediction to the devotee, the goddess Laxmi becomes immediately obligated to the devotee and has to perforce travel to the devotee‚Äôs home personally. When Laxmi enters one‚Äôs home, there can be no doubt in anyone‚Äôs mind that one‚Äôs home becomes opulent.
WE SHOULD PLEASE NARAYAN
In order to ensure that Laxmi never leaves our home, we must ensure that Narayan Himself resides in our home. Hence the message of the scriptures is clear. Instead of running after Laxmi, the goddess of fortune, who comes and goes as per her whims and fancies, and can desert a person anytime, we must ensure that the Supreme Lord Narayan never leaves our home. And we can imprison Narayan in our home with our pure love and devotional service ( bhakti ). Though the Lord is unconquerable, He nevertheless acquiesces in imprisonment by His pure devotee. He does not desire very expensive gifts from us. As an expression of our love, if we offer him a tulsi leaf, a flower, or a glass of water every day, the Lord will not only gladly accept the offerings but will also ‚Äúeat‚ÄĚ them with great pleasure. ( It should be known that as the Lord‚Äôs potencies and transcendental senses are unlimited, He can eat through his eyes or nose and do whatever else He desires ‚Äď A supreme Lord Who is limited in His abilities ceases by definition to be the Supreme Lord ). He will reside permanently in our homes, thought this fact might not be apparent to our gross imperfect senses. ‚ÄúIf one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.‚ÄĚ ( Srimad Bhagavad Gita 9.26 ).
It goes without saying that when the Supreme Lord Narayan resides in our home, encaptured by our love and devotional service, Laxmi cannot be far away. In fact, a team of cart horses or 500 HP tractors couldn‚Äôt drag Laxmi away from our home. In whichever form The Supreme Lord Narayan appears to our senses and intelligence, such as Lord Krishna or Lord Ram or Lord Narasimha, Laxmi is not very far away. In fact, unknown to our gross imperfect senses, Laxmi is always standing next to the Lord, awaiting an opportunity to benedict the devotee who is pleasing her beloved husband.
THE CHANGE IN PERCEPTION
At the end of this material life, we shall lose all our possessions, and all material connections. Yet we contrive every moment to collect ‚Äėsome more‚Äô. Our eternal connection is with the Lord only and He is our only true friend and well wisher. All other worldly relationships are temporary, like ships passing in the night. ‚ÄúThe Blessed Lord said : Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!‚ÄĚ ( Srimad Bhagavad Gita 4.5 ). Hence an intelligent devotee does not ask for anything from the Lord except for the opportunity for His loving devotional service. This ensures that the Lord stays with the devotee permanently. The presence or absence of Laxmi becomes a matter of indifference to the devotee, who begins to see Laxmi not as a donor or bestower of material opulence, but as an exalted devotee of the Lord to be admired and respected not for what she can give to us but for the exalted qualities she has amassed just by serving the Lord with unsurpassed love and devotion.