Lakshmi: A Hindu Goddess Essay, Research Paper
Lakshmi; the Obedient Hindu Female Goddess. Female Goddesses stand as powerful symbols, as well as rolemodels to be mimicked in the life and death of the Hindu people. There are two distinct types of female goddesses in the Hindu faith, the Goddesses of the Tooth and the Breast. Sri, or better known as Lakshmi, is defined as a Goddess of the Breast. The Tantra, the Bible of the Hindu people, describes Lakshmi as having a colour like that of the inside of a lotus, with the lotus flower standing for life, love, fertility, motherhood, spirituality, purity, and most importantly creation in the Hindu faith. In the following pages I will characterize Lakshmi s role as a Goddess of the Breast, and explore her personification in the Hindu world.The Goddess Sri first appeared in Hindu mythology in the Vedic Texts, roughly 900 BCE, as a young and beautiful goddess. Being considered the most attractive of all women, the other gods quickly began to fear her, not because of her strength or rapture, but rather, her potential to corrupt the masculine gods with her dark and mysterious powers, that would eventually come when her beauty came to fruition. The gods decide to kill Sri as a preemptive strike against her growing ability to persuade them. Deciding that it would be wrong to kill her, the idea of a gang rape was entertained as a means to dirty Sri, and yet spare her life. This grotesque act was done against Sri, and she was reborn as Lakshmi, the epitome of how a good and obedient Hindu wife should act towards her husband. This is an important act in the life of Lakshmi, because it showed the constant struggle of power between the male and female deities in the Hindu faith; male s had the power and wanted to secure it from being taken away for the sexual women. Lakshmi completed a rebirth after her rape by the gods. She went from having a dark skin complexion, one that alludes to evil, to that of a light complexion, denoting purity and traditional values. She had been very fickle minded with regards to her life and in her actions. Yet, she became very obedient and focussed on the pleasure of fulfilling the life of her husband and his needs. She had undergone a dramatic social and mental transformation in the spiritual word, but she still was to grow into the role of a traditional Hindu wife. This was accomplished through multiple marriages, in which Lakshmi continually aspired to the pinnacle symbol of female obedience. In Lakshmi s first marriage, she was united with Soma, the King of the Planets. This, Lakshmi s first marriage, was quite a childish one; Freud would compare her role to that of the ids. In her second marriage, Lakshmi was paired with Dharma, the King of Ethnic and Social Order. In that marriage Lakshmi s role was to be the closed eyed wife, who continually stood by her husband with out looking at his indiscretions. Lakshmi then married Kubera, the King of Wealth. In that relationship Lakshmi gained a knowledge of the underworld and its powers along with how to use that knowledge. In Lakshmi s final marriage to Visnu, she underwent her final and most important of her transformations, she had finally matured evolved – into an obedient Hindu wife. She capitulated to Visnu and became the ideal wife. Lakshmi had become loyal, faithful, and treated her husband like the lord of the mannor, these characteristics have become the trademark of how a Hindu wife is to act toward her husband. Lakshmi is depicted in multiple ways. Yet, the stereotypical form comes from the Tantra, which describes her as: wears[ing] a white garland and white cloths and is ornamented with [a] necklace and armlets. She bears all lucky signs and has round, high and close-set breasts. Her eyes are large like full-blown lotus and she has a smiling expression. She has locks that resemble a swarm of bees in flight. Her forehead is marked with a decorative and charming spot, her gemlike lips are red and her teeth look like rows of pearls.
This description of Lakshmi was the way the traditional Hindu wife to look. She was to be beautiful, fair skinned, have a specific type of breast shape, large eyes and smile, and she wore a red dot on her forehead as a sign of marriage. There are three, more specific images of Lakshmi in the Hindu tradition. The first has Lakshmi flanked by two elephants that would be showering her with water. The water, which in Hindu mythology represents semen, was said to be fertilizing rain, rain that intern gave way to the ability to grow crops, and thus the creation of civilization in general. This image was most likely worshiped by farmers and possibly shop owners that would have sold the agricultural goods. In addition, the presence of the elephant alludes to the fact that royalty may have used this depiction of Lakshmi as well. The water, in this case, would represent royal authority to govern over the lands. The second images had Lakshmi riding a chariot, drawn by only the finest of horses, while dressed in the ornate of clothing. Again, this image too, was used to align royal authority with the ideals and beliefs of Lakshmi, possibly in an attempt to show how the common man was to act towards the royal court. The third typical image of Lakshmi had her paired with her fourth husband, the King of the Heavens, Visnu. In the image the two gods would be resting on the cosmic serpent, gazing into each other s eyes, contemplating the rebirth of the heavens. In this image, Visnu would represent love, and Lakshmi would represent pleasure. The meaning of an almost bisexual thought or image; Visnu s love towards his wife, inconjunction with Lakshmi s ability to pleasures her mate, gave way the rebirth of the sun every morning. The one constant in all of the renditions of Lakshmi, is the presence of the lotus flower, the meaning of which has been covered. The worship of Lakshmi took place everyday. This would be done in an attempt to gain her favor, and take on her good characteristics. There were other forms of ritual besides daily devotional. The Festival of Davali was a large-scale display of affection towards Lakshmi. Hindu s would worship Lakshmi on that day, as a sign of gratitude for the things she had done/given them; wealth and prosperity, fertility in the field and among humans, and all around good fortune. Hindu s would also take religious vows towards Lakshmi. This would be done to aid one in the ability to reflect the traditional values of Lakshmi. Lakshmi had three major devotes, each one with there own spicific reasons for adoring her. Mothers and women idolized Lakshmi for her ability to stand by her husband, and her tendency towards giving favor or luck, e.g. the gift of children. And farmers worshiped Lakshmi for her ability to fertilize the land, thus giving the farmer a way of life; a means of continuing civilization, continuing their way of life. In summation, Lakshmi is the quintessential Goddess of the Breast . Lakshmi represents all that is seen as life, love, charity, motherhood, creation, loyalty, devotion, spirituality, and purity; she is the what every good Hindu wife wants to be. Her history is rich, her symbols are strong, and the devotion for the Hindu culture to her is an unbreakable bond. The clearest way to explain her is to simply say that every Hindu father wants his daughter to emulate Lakshmi, pure and simple.