Lakshmi is revered as the Goddess of
wealth and prosperity. Lakshmi is worshipped as the consort of Vishnu the protector.
Lakshmi is said to represent everything that is beautiful and bountiful in nature and is
the source of power, pleasure and prosperity.
It is believed that prosperity and well being are symbolic of Lakshmi's presence.
Mythology is full of narratives regarding the perpetual feuds between the
forces of good, the Devas and those of the titans the Asuras. One of these legends is
centered around the churning of the milky ocean
and Lakshmi features as one of the central characters in this legend.
Legend has it that Lakshmi symbolically left the Devas, chastising them
for their over indulgence in material pleasures and their shirking of their
responsibilities. As a result gloom descended both upon the earth and the heavens. It was
realized that she could be brought back through a penance involving the churning of the
The legend of the churning of the milky ocean is also alluded to in this website in the section Beliefs
Legends in the context of Saivism, and in the context of Rahu and Ketu and in
the context of the avatars of Vishnu.
Needless to say, phenomenal effort was needed to regain Lakshmi
metaphorically. It was using the combined might of the Suras and the Asuraas, and the
support of Vishnu in the form of a giant turtle, and mighty mount as the spindle and the
celestial snake Vaasuki as the churning rope.
The combined efforts to regain the lost prosperity was rewarded and Lakshmi
emerged from the ocean to bring back life to the universe.
Also with Lakshmi emerged Kaamadhenu the celestial cow and the Kalpaka
Vriksha and Chintaamani gem capable of granting
everything that one may desire.
The Airaavata elephant that emerged along with Lakshmi was given to Indra
the king of the Gods. Other symbols of royalty such as a conch and a bow were given to
Maha Vishnu, whom she garlanded with the Vyjayanti garland of victory.
Kubera, the head of the mythical yakshas is also regarded as a keeper of wealth. It is
believed that Lakshmi granted Kubera knowledge regarding the earth's precious resources.
Lakshmi is enshrined as Vishnu's consort in the main sanctum of most Vaishnavite
temples all over India. In some temples there is a separate shrine for Lakshmi alone.
Lakshmi is also enshrined symbolically in the chest of Vishnu's image in the sancta of
most South Indian Vaishnavite temples and a sandal paste impression of Lakshmi's image is
offered to devotees upon request.
Shrines to Mahalakshmi are also seen in most Saivite temples in south India, in
association with shrines to Parvati.
The Mahalakshmi temple in
Maharashtra, and the more popular Mahalakshmi temple in Mumbai and the Ashtalakshmi
temple in Chennai are some of the most popular stand alone temples dedicated to Lakshmi.