Lakshmi Sanskrit: लक्ष्मी, Lakṣmī, sometimes spelled Laxmi, lit. ’she who leads to one’s goal’), also known as Shri (Sanskrit: श्री, : Śrī, lit. ’Noble’), is one of the principal goddesses in Hinduism. She is the goddess of wealth, fortune, power, beauty, fertility and prosperity, and associated with Maya (“Illusion”). Along with Parvati and Saraswati, she forms the Tridevi of Hindu goddesses.
Within the goddess-oriented Shaktism, Lakshmi is venerated as the prosperity aspect of the Mother Goddess. Lakshmi is both the consort and the divine energy of the Hindu god Vishnu, the Supreme Being of vaishnvaism; she is also the Supreme Goddess in the sect and assists Vishnu to create, protect, and transform the universe. She is an especially prominent figure in Sri Vaishnavaism, in which devotion to Lakshmi is deemed to be crucial to reach Vishnu. Whenever Vishnu descended on the earth as an avatar, Lakshmi accompanied him as consort, for example, as Sita and Radha or Rukmini as consorts of Vishnu’s avatars Rama and Krishna, respectively. The eight prominent manifestations of Lakshmi, the Ashtalakshmi, symbolise the eight sources of wealth.
Lakshmi is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, prosperity-showering golden-coloured woman standing or sitting in the padmasanaposition upon a lotus throne, while holding a lotus in her hand, symbolising fortune, self-knowledge, and spiritual liberation. Her iconography shows her with four hands, which represent the four aspects of human life important to Hindu culture: dharma, kama, artha, and moksha. The Lakshmi Sahasranama of the Skanda Purana, Lakshmi Tantra, Markandeya Purana, Devi Mahatamya, and Vedic scriptures describe Lakshmi as having eight or eighteen hands, and as sitting on Garuda, a lion, or a tiger. According to the Laxmi tantra, the goddess Lakshmi, in her ultimate form of Mahasri, has four arms of a golden complexion, and holds a citron, a club, a shield, and a vessel containing amrita. In the Skanda Purana and the Venkatachala Mahatmayam, Sri, or Lakshmi, is praised as the mother of Bramha.
Archaeological discoveries and ancient coins suggest the recognition and reverence for Lakshmi existing by the 1st millennium BCE. Lakshmi’s iconography and statues have also been found in Hindu temples throughout Southeast Asia, estimated to be from the second half of the 1st millennium CE. The day of Lakshmi Puja during navaratri, and the festivals of Deepavali and Sharad Purnima (Kojagiri Purnima) are celebrated in her honour
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