The Origins and Myths of Goddess Lakshmi

Lakshmi is one of the principal goddesses of Hinduism and symbolizes wealth, fortune, and prosperity. She has been venerated since the 1st millennium BCE. Usually depicted as an elegantly dressed, golden-colored woman standing or sitting on a lotus. 

She is often shown with four arms, which are symbolic of the four goals of humanity. These goals are considered good in Hinduism: Dharma (pursuit of moral life), Artha (pursuit of wealth), Kama (pursuit of love), and Mokshaa (pursuit of liberation).

Grantor of Wealth and Prosperity

Besides being the goddess of wealth, she is also associated with power, beauty, fertility, and maya (illusion). Following Hindu traditions, her residence is in the amla (citrus) tree, in white, clean clothes and conch. She also adores the cash boxes.

The meaning of the word Lakshmi is “one who leads to one’s goals.” Goddess Lakshmi gives us the power to know and understand our goals. She is the divine power that transforms dreams into reality. Lakshmi is prakrit; she is self-sustaining.

Lakshmi Origins, the Perfect Creation

Lakshmi Origin
Raja Ravi Varma, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The origin of Lakshmi is described in one of the central Hindu legends. According to the story, Sage Durvasa, with a lot of respect, offered a garland of flowers to Lord Indra. Lord Indra takes the flowers and places them on the forehead of his elephant. The elephant throws it down to earth. For this disrespect, Sage Durvasa gets angry and curses Lord Indra. He cursed him, saying his kingdom would be destroyed like the garland he had thrown.

As Lord Indra returned to his capital Amravati, he saw that gods and people lose their vigor and energy, and all vegetables and plants start dying. Everyone’s desires become uncontrollable. The demons invaded the weak gods. This symbolizes the good and evil that reside within all of us.

After this, the gods went to Lord Vishnu, who suggested the churning of the ocean to restore their power. The churning would provide Amrit (nectar) to the gods which would make them immortal.

And goddess Lakshmi emerged, among other precious things, from the foam of the ocean of milk. She rises out of the waves, seated on a full-blown lotus. When she first appeared, she had the option of going to the Devas or the Asuras. She chose the devas’ side, and among the thirty deities, she chose to be with Vishnu.

Another legend about her birth is that she was born from Prajapati’s mouth. She was born to provide the inhabitants of the cosmos with food, clothing, shelter, and all things that make life more comfortable. But other gods, dazzled by her beauty and power, immediately wanted to murder her and appropriate all her gifts. But they were stopped by Prajapati, who told them to take what they wanted but without violence.

Family and Incarnations

Lakshmi is both the consort and the divine energy of the Hindu god Vishnu. Vishnu is the god responsible for preserving and protecting creation. He is the embodiment of goodness and mercy, as well as the self-existent and powerful power that keeps the cosmic order in place. He is the deity of Shanti (peaceful mind), he never sleeps and cannot stand ego.

Lakshmi assists Vishnu in his role to create, protect, and transform the universe. Also, she plays a special role as the mediator between her husband, Vishnu, and his worldly devotees. She is considered inseparable from Vishnu and takes different forms to be with him in his different births. These incarnations were intended to either prevent a great evil or bring about good on Earth.

In one of her incarnations, she was Sita. Vishnu was born and became famous as Shri Rama, her husband. They are the central figures of the ancient Hindu epic “Ramayana.” In this form, Lord Rama is a fearless upholder of the law of dharma. And Sita helps and supports her husband in his roles as a son and brother. She even went with him to his exile, and during this period she was abducted by King Ravana. Lord Rama killed Ravana and saved Sita. This symbolizes the victory of good over evil and Dharma over Adharma.

Reincarnated as Rukmini

In another birth, she assumed the form of Rukmini, the wife of the Hindu god Krishna. According to the story, Rukmini’s brother wanted to marry her to one of his friends but she was in love with Krishna. So she dispatched a Brahman to request that Krishna elope with her on her Swayamvara. The Brahman described the princess poetically as bearing beautiful hands, braided hair, and a face that resembled the moon. Krishna accepted her request and soon swept her into his chariot with him. Rukmini’s brother and other allies chased them and challenged Krishna. But, at Rukmini’s request, Krishna agreed to spare her brother’s life in exchange for shaving his hair and mustache as a punishment. After this, they were married with great pomp and ceremony.

In Hindu mythology, one of her forms, Mahalakshmi, placed the seed of divine desire in the palm of her hand. And she unleashed the dynamic forces of creation until the three worlds took shape and all forms of life came forth. 

In her form as Ashtalakshmi (the eight manifestations of Lakshmi), she presides over eight sources of wealth. These include spirituality, material wealth, agriculture, royalty, knowledge, courage, progeny, and victory.

 According to the Hindu epic Mahabharatha, Darupadi is considered a part of Lakshmi and Manmatha, the god of lust. Love and fertility were described as her sons.

Lakshmi’s role and responsibilities

Lakshmi responsibility
terimakasih0, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Over everything else, Lakshmi is seen as independent. Her association with many gods in myths and even with asuras gave her the image of being restless and independent. This is indicative of the restlessness and maybe fleeting nature of fortune and wealth.

Though Lakshmi’s forms are distinct, her encompassing nature is that of a nurturing and protective mother. She gives devotees what they need while at the same time encouraging them to work hard and persevere.

She is the storehouse of all the universe’s wealth, helping to fulfill the potential of those who resolve to conquer the mind despite all difficulties. One of her forms, Dhanya Lakshmi, highlights the importance of showing gratitude for Mother Nature’s miracles.

Also fulfilling the desire for vibrant and long-living offspring, she blesses those who honor parenthood as a sacred duty. 

She grants one the fearlessness needed to go through life’s ups and downs. Thus she favors those who resolve to remain determined and optimistic in all circumstances. She brings knowledge to provide divine wisdom to spiritually transform people’s lives.

Myths and legends

There are many stories, myths, and legends associated with the goddess. She sometimes plays the role of the protagonist, and other times she just plays an important part in the story. These stories are told by devotees on special occasions and at other times while reciting mantras to invoke and honor the goddess.

According to one story, Mahalakshmi once became irritated with her husband. She went to live with the royal family of King Akasha in southern India. There now, calling herself Padmavati, she was eventually found by distraught Vishnu. 

He was in disguise as Shrinivas. Brahma and Shiva conspired to have them meet. They fell in love with each other. and got married in a lavish ceremony. The day is still commemorated today in the town of Tirupati, in Orissa.

Shreeya, a devotee of Lakshmi, once worshiped her, according to legend. And moved by her devotion, Lakshmi left her permanent abode, the temple of Jagannath, and visited Shreeya’s house. 

When Balabhadra, the elder brother of Jagannatha, came to know about this, she was declared defiled and was not allowed to come back into the temple. In retaliation, the goddess Lakshmi walks off with her wealth and sets up another temple for herself.

Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh

Lakshmi is often paired with Lord Ganesh, the God of Wisdom. Because Lakshmi was childless, she adopted him from the goddess Parvati. Mythology states that Lakshmi grew to care for him so much that she decided to share her power with him. The two are worshiped together in the sense that wealth and riches should be used wisely.

According to one legend, originally Lakshmi, Saraswati and Ganga were the wives of Shri Hari. Saraswati felt that Shri Hari was getting fonder of Ganga. She complained to Lakshmi, but Lakshmi was neutral. Saraswati was irritated and cursed Lakshmi to become a tree because she was insensitive. 

Ganga felt bad and cursed Saraswati. This led Saraswati to curse Ganga. Reacting to this situation, Shri Hari gave dispensations, and accordingly, Lakshmi was to be born as a tree in the house of a king. She was to marry an Asura, a Vishnu devotee, and later become Shri Hari’s wife, and also as a river named Padmavat in Bharatvarsha (India).

Devotion to Lakshmi

Her statues and pictures, where she is often draped in a red sari and bedecked with gold ornaments, seated on a lotus, and flanked by white elephants, adorn Hindu homes and business establishments. Lotus flowers, sandalwood, betel leaves, fruits, various sweets, rice, and coconuts are used for her ritual worship.

The festival of Diwali is celebrated in her honor. People clean their houses before Diwali. It is said that the goddess Lakshmi goes to only those houses that are clean, decorated, and have a festive look. On this day, Lakshmi puja, for invoking the goddess, is usually followed by Lakshmi Aarti.

According to beliefs held by Hindus, when she is pleased with the purity and devotion of her worshippers, she bestows upon them both material and spiritual prosperity. She also has a special place in the Buddhist and Jain religions.

In Buddhism, she is believed to be the peaceful form of Shri Devi Dudsolma the principal female protector. For Jains, she is the Devi of Artha and Kama. In the ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi.

The popularity of Lakshmi can be seen by the fact that her sacred name “Shri” is written atop every document.  The word “Shri” is associated with the material side of existence. It is also spoken before the name of any revered individual.

Representation and Symbols of Lakshmi

The Vedas describe her as having eighteen hands. She is also very often shown with elephants. These elephants symbolize work, activity, and strength. Also, they represent water, rain, and fertility for abundant prosperity.

Lakshmi symbols
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

She is pictured sitting on a lotus, which represents self-realization and reality. This is a flower that blooms in clean or dirty water, which signifies purity regardless of good or bad circumstances. This symbolizes that good and prosperity can bloom even if the surroundings are filled with evil.

She rides an owl and represents vice, which must be overcome to be blessed by Lakshmi. In the case of Lakshmi, an owl that sleeps during the day is symbolic of the darkness of ignorance. Therefore, it symbolically seeks to open our eyes to the light of wisdom residing within us.


Owl: The owl is the bird that is almost always present with the goddess. It is her mode of travel. It represents wit, intelligence, and wisdom. Hindus believe that the owl is auspicious for achieving success.

Garuda (Eagle): The divine couple Vishnu and Lakshmi are carried on the magnificent shoulders of Lord Garuda. He is an example of divine life, unsurpassed in strength and martial power.

Elephant: According to mythology, Gajalakshmi (Lakshmi with elephants) is credited with restoring the wealth lost by the god Indra. Here, elephants put importance on animal wealth and other forms of wealth that represent strength.


Goddess sits on an open lotus and hence it is considered her favorite flower. Also, every Wednesday, white colored fragrant flowers like Tuberose, Mogra and non-fragrant ones like white chrysanthemum are offered to her.


Scents often associated with Lakshmi are Patchouli, Amber, Frankincense, and Sandalwood.

Patchouli fights low moods and high levels of stress. It also helps with indecision.

Amber is comforting, supportive and draws away negative energy.  

Frankincense is stimulating and elevating to the mind and helps in overcoming stress. It is comforting and has long been associated with spirituality. Also helps relieve the sense of disappointment and impatience.

Sandalwood stimulates the ability to remember, maintain health and enhance immunity.

Gems and Metals

Gold: Gold is considered a symbol of luck, prosperity and abundance in Indian culture. In Hinduism, gold is considered to embody the Goddess Lakshmi.


Lakshmi is often associated with colors like red, gold, dark blue and yellow. These are rich in texture and symbolize wealth and prosperity.

FAQs about Lakshmi

What is the sacred name of Goddess Lakshmi in Hindu scriptures?

In Hindu Scriptures, she is known by the name Shri, as a timeless mother goddess who nurtures and nourishes all life.

What are the powers of Goddess Lakshmi?

In Hinduism, she is the goddess of wealth, fortune, power, beauty, fertility, and prosperity.

Goddess Lakshmi is attracted by what?

She is attracted to places that are clean, lit with lamps, and filled with offerings of coconut and flowers.

Why does Lakshmi sit on a lotus?

She sits on a lotus, which symbolizes fertility and how life is rooted in primordial waters.

Other Goddesses

If you enjoyed this post we are sure you will enjoy getting to know some of the other goddesses we also write about. You can find the complete list of goddesses sorted across regions and religions here.

Featured Image Credit: Ankushsamant, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons