On Diwali and Mother Lakshmi
May I wish you all a very Happy Diwali. Diwali is the festival of Lights, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance. It is usually associated with a puranic event when a demon is destroyed. The most popular one is probably the return of Ram and Sita to Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana.
The Goddess Lakshmi is traditionally worshipped at this time. Lakshmi is frequently depicted as one of the daughters of Durga and the goddess of wealth, with Saraswati being her sister and the goddess of arts, learning, and culture. But as with other deities and avatars in Hinduism, they are ultimately aspects of Brahman. Because of this, the devotees of Lakshmi will see all the aspects of the Great Mother archetype in Lakshmi herself. Just as we often see family resemblances in siblings and parents etc., as we worship Lakshmi, all of her facets are revealed. We begin to see her as not just as the goddess of wealth, sustenance, and harvest., but also as Mother Earth, one with Mahakali, the destroyer of evil, the embodiment of beauty, grace, purity, and truth. We see her as the one who moves our inner consciousness toward God realization. Each sect in Hinduism sees the totality of Brahman in its chosen aspect. Brahman is like a multi-faceted diamond. The sparkle from one facet catches our eye. We become fascinated by it. As we focus on it, we realize it is the diamond that is sparkling. Thus one facet becomes associated with the whole.
When the devas and asuras were churning the ocean of milk to obtain the nectar of immortality, Lakshmi sprang forth in full form from the ocean on a pink lotus. What can we understand from this story? I believe it indicates that, like most goddess figures, she represents the divine energy manifested in the world. She is the divinity that was hidden in the ocean, but from the churning, was made evident. The lotus she is on also has that symbolism. It rises from the mud and water to bloom in all its purity and splendor. The divine energy is here, imminent in the world, but we must work to realize this, to be able to see it.
As we pray to Mother Lakshmi for her support in the world, we must remember to be thankful to her for the many blessings she has already bestowed upon us.