Lakshmi sand stone relief
Sand stone, temple relief
53cm long, 48cm high
Lakshmi (Sanskrit: लक्ष्मी, lakṣmī, ˈləkʃmi) is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity (both material and spiritual), fortune, and the embodiment of beauty. She is the wife and active energy of Vishnu. Her four hands represent the four goals of human life considered proper in Hindu way of life – dharma, kāma, artha, and moksha. Representations of Lakshmi are also found in Jain monuments. In Buddhist sects of Tibet, Nepal and southeast Asia, goddess Vasudhara mirrors the characteristics and attributes of Hindu goddess Lakshmi, with minor iconographic differences.
Lakshmi is also called Sri or Thirumagal because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities, or Gunas, and also because she is the source of strength even to Vishnu. When Vishnu incarnated on the Earth as the avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi took incarnation as his consort. Sita(Rama’s wife), Radha (Krishna’s lover), Rukmini is considered forms of Lakshmi. In ancient scriptures of India, all women are declared to be embodiments of Lakshmi. The marriage and relationship between Lakshmi and Vishnu as wife and husband, states Patricia Monaghan, is “the paradigm for rituals and ceremonies for the bride and groom in Hindu weddings”.
Archeological discoveries and ancient coins suggest the recognition and reverence for goddess Lakshmi, in Scytho-Parthian kingdom and throughout India, by 1st millennium BC. Lakshmi’s iconography and statues have also been found in Hindu temples of southeast Asia, estimated to be from second half of 1st millennium AD.
In modern times, Lakshmi is worshipped as the goddess of wealth. She is also worshipped as the consort of Vishnu in many temples. The festivals of Diwali and Sharad Purnima (Kojagiri Purnima) are celebrated in her honour.