Bestower of Boons

Varalakshmi Vratam

mahaalakshmi namostute!
mahaalakshmi namostute!

Yesterday after the vesper service (Sandhya Arati) I was reminding every one that before closing the temple, Ma Lakshmi’s photo must be placed in the altar as the next day (i.e. today) is Vara Lakshmi Vratam day. This is the one of the popular Day of austerity and worship among the Tamil, Telugu and even Hindi speaking Hindu communities in this country.  It triggered my memories of the childhood days when my mother would call me to sit with her during her Puja of Mahalakshmi in the evening. Somehow I used to feel strange that the menfolk of the household would be, I would not say ‘not interested’, but were definitely nonchalant about the puja while women and girls would be all excited about it.

I observed that the Mahalakshmi worship was done on a kalasham with a turmeric-stained coconut surrounded by mango leaves and face of Mahalakshmi made of silver used to be fixed over it. The wall against which the kalasham was kept would be white-washed afresh, and with all the usual ingredients the worship would begin. When the fully decorated pot would shine with gold ornaments, red saree cloths and red and yellow flowers, and with all the devotion of their melodious singing of songs in mesmerising karnatak ragas that would envelop the entire atmosphere, I could visualise that actually Mahalakshmi was alive.

Ma Sarada and Ma Lakshmi

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 8.49.17 PMIncidentally when I would close my eyes and think of Mahalakshmi, I would remember one particular face appearing prominently before my mental eye and that was of Holy Mother. I had seen only the picture that was hung as a calendar on the wall. In those years I could not connect Mother Sarada with Mahalakshmi as I was just beginning to read Vivekananda and had rudimentary awareness about the greatness of Mother from the Tamil classic by Ra Ganapathy. I was an avid reader awaiting every week for the weekly magazine to arrive. This magazine carried a series of biography articles on Vivekananda called “arivuk kanale arut punale” which later came out in a book form and became highly popular.

Mother Sarada had a special significance in my mind, and as I grew, I used to keep her photo with me. When I started learning Bengali, one song that drew my attention was a simple charming line “vaikuntho theke lokkhi elo prithiveete maathithe joyraam baati te” sung in lilting tune. How I wish even today to listen to such memorable songs live from the monastic singers! This song glorifies Holy Mother as that very Lakshmi who came all the way down from Vaikuntha to the earthly home in Joyrambati. We read in her biography that later she admitted that she used to see a bevy of eight girls of her age coming from an unknown place and escorting her in her chores during her childhood.

Ashtalakshmi aspects

Ashtalakshmis accompanying Ma Sarada
Ashtalakshmis accompanying Ma Sarada

Our sages had described Mother Lakshmi with eight aspects and called her ashtalakshmi. It is interesting to see the names of these eight aspects of Mahalakshmi that logically speaking, appears to trace the evolution of material and spiritual life (bhukti mukti prade devi) of any human.

The first is called Adilakshmi. Mother as the beginning. As Tirukkural says that God is the beginning of this Universe (aadi bhagavan mudadtre ulagu). God and His Power (bhagavan and His shakti) are non-different as Sri Ramakrishna aptly describes. Creation must be claimed from that shakti called Adilakshmi. 

To live in this world a man definitely requires wealth. Money does matters as again, Tirukkural says that “this world is nought without money” (porul illaarku ivvulagam illai). – Dhanalakshmi.

Only with money one can’t live. What is needed is health that can be nourished from variety of food items. – Dhaanyalakshmi.

Apart from human body, money and food, man requires status in the society. Status in ancient times was viewed with the possessions of like elephant etc. – Gajalakshmi.

What would be value of life if a householder does not have a progeny is spite of having a human body, well settled in family life with wealth, health and possessions? – Santhaanalakshmi.

Then without having courage to face the challenges in life, one becomes an absolute failure. – Veeralakshmi.

If courage is added with ‘faith in oneself and God’ success is sure. – Vijayalakshmi.

By propitiating Divine Mother Mahalakshmi, one attains all the desired boons. – Varalakshmi.

Kalamkari Painting on Cotton by Artist: M. Vishwanath Reddy - the National Award Winner... 70.5 inch X 20.0 inch
Kalamkari Painting on Cotton by Artist: M. Vishwanath Reddy – the National Award Winner…
70.5 inch X 20.0 inch. Available for sale at http://www.exoticindiaart.com

Would you ‘ask’?

The above may be a simplistic interpretation of one’s evolution as a human through eight stages in order to climb the success ladder. I remember once my mother prodded me to ‘ask’ Ma Lakshmi as, on the very Varalaksmi vratam night, she said that the Mother becomes all merciful, and She is ever ready to grant what ever boon one may ‘ask’ for. I thought what would I ‘ask’? pass in exams? getting rich? successful in life? whatever came to my mind seemed to be absolutely insignificant when I compared with her might that she holds within her Power. She is the Goddess and such ‘small’ things should I ask from Her? Finally I did ‘ask’ her.

Are you, my dear reader, curious to know what I asked for? Eventually I did ask.

I asked  ‘nothing’.

At every step that I take, at every turn that I pass, at every situation that I am placed, I can patently feel the presence of Her benign grace because, I am certain, I asked nothing; everything She provides!

“sarva siddhim avaapnoti Mahaalakshmi prasaadataha”

worship of Sri Mahalakshmi at Sri Ramakrishna altar
worship of Sri Mahalakshmi at Sri Ramakrishna altar

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22 comments

  1. Aum Namo Narayana, Maharaj!.
    Thank you very much for relating Mahalaksmi‘s glory.
    I would like to confess that as a householder, I have experienced my challenges, opportunities and rewards. But, I cannot ask God for anything, I chant sing and talk to the deities. But I cannot ask for anything, but always say thank you.
    I do talk with Ma Laksmi, my beautiful attractive Mother, I feel and see Holy Mother and Master’s grace in day-to-day issues without asking for anything. Maharaj, in simple words, God’s love for his/her children is beyond description in words for it is an emotion of eternal love.
    May Mother Lakshmi, my sweetheart manifest in all hearts!
    Mandusha
    Durban, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Mandusha
      Its always a pleasure to get feedback from you!
      Yes, ‘not asking’ comes slowly and I am glad to know that you don’t ask God. But there are stages in the bhakti and ‘asking’ is one of them! Transcending all wants is a higher development.
      May the Mother Lakshmi’s blessings lead us to realise the inherent spiritual wealth!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Maharaj
    Aum Namo Narayanaya!
    Thank you for that heart-warming childhood story and for sharing your inspirational spiritual experiences with us. It is always of interest to know how people come to and experience Master and Mother. So blessed are those that have had these teachings and experiences since childhood. I remember beloved Big Swamiji (Swami Shivapadanandaji) telling us as children “if you have to ask God for anything, ask for Bhakti, ask for Love”. So I do still ask for Bhakthi and Love! And hopefully I will reach the stage when I need ask nothing at all.
    Thank you so very much for your posting Maharaj – which always makes me feel like I’m at your feet hearing discourses.
    Dr Shivani Singh
    Durban, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Shivani
      Your comment is most welcome!
      A very good prescription that Revered Big Swamiji has inculcated in the children!
      Yes, you see what you learnt at childhood still is with you! In bhaktiyoga the stages of development are not pushed forth; they occur automatically, very naturally. Its always good to know intellectually at least about all the stages.
      May the Mother Lakshmi’s blessings lead us to realise the inherent spiritual wealth!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  3. Om Namo Narayanaya!
    Most Revered Maharaj
    It was so pleasant to read Maharaj’s reminiscences about his childhood and his relationship with both his earthly and eternal Mothers.
    This incident is also reminiscent of Swami Vivekananda’s inability to ask for anything material and earthly when He approached Mother Kali. How refreshing it must be to Mother to have devotees who are unable to ask anything! How benevolent She is to those who approach her with long lists of pleas, requests, desires, demands, etc.!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Hari Om Tat Sat.
    Nirmala Balkaran
    Ladysmith, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Nirmala
      Life is a journey and we learn continuously. I was happy to recount my childhood days because of the particular event. Since it’s a personal blog I do write recollecting certain experiences on a personal note. Its my diary ‘personal but open to public’! Each one of us comes face to face with some experiences that can be exchanged in the society for its own betterment. There is a better understanding of each other in such situations. I hope this blog provides that opportunity free of cost to the writer and the reader.
      May the Mother Lakshmi’s blessings lead us to realise the inherent spiritual wealth!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  4. Nice to read. Thanks!
    “sab chore sab paoe”
    Loving regards.
    Pareshananda
    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Revered Maharaj
      My respectful pranam to you, Maharaj!
      You have aptly given the gist in four words! Grateful to you!
      May the Mother Lakshmi’s blessings lead us to realise the inherent spiritual wealth!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  5. Respected Maharaj,
    I read your post.
    I am learning not to ask specific thing.
    I do ask every day Her kindness for my children, my family, my self, my patients, my friends and relatives, my enemies, if any and for every man and woman who is in distress.
    Hope I do the right thing.
    With regards
    Dr Probir Kumar Basu
    Gaborone, Botswana

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Probir
      Yes, you do the right thing by asking Goddess Lakshmi’s kindness for every one!
      It is a great spiritual practice to ask for some one whether he/she is known or unknown.
      It widens your circle bigger and bigger and one day this will envelop the entire universe.
      May the Mother Lakshmi’s blessings lead us to realise the inherent spiritual wealth!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  6. Maharaj
    Pranam!
    What a beautiful description of Sri Sri Ma’s journey to bathing ghat with Her sahelis!
    Detailed aspects of all the 8 aspects of Mother took me to Joyrambati and then to Besant Nagar Ashtalakshmi temple.
    Superb delineation of the moral in Varalakshmi vratam!
    Dr Y Hariharan
    Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Hariharan
      Thanks for your feedback! Happy that you enjoyed the post.
      May the Mother Lakshmi’s blessings lead us to realise the inherent spiritual wealth!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  7. Aum Namo narayanaya
    My Pranam Swamiji.
    How heartwarming to read these childhood stories. it makes us all reminisce about ours. A fantastic start to a new week.
    Thank you Swamiji and may the Blessings of our divine Holy Trinity always be yours
    Hari aum tat sat!
    Mrs Kaliyannee Kalai Pilay
    Alberton, Johannesburg

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Kaliyannee
      Welcome to this site! Happy you enjoyed the post.
      May the Mother Lakshmi’s blessings lead us to realise the inherent spiritual wealth!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  8. Pujonio Maharaj jee,
    Pranam.
    Nice to know about the Lakshmi Puja of your childhood days.
    Bengalis too worship Ma Lakshmi in many ways. Some worship Her every Thursday evening in their own homes and recite “Lakshmi’r Panchali”. On the full moon day after the Durga Puja, Ma Lakshmi (with idol) is worshipped in every Pandal where Durga Puja has been done. Many a family worship Ma Lakshmi that evening in their homes too in a larger scale. It is called “Kojagari Lakshmi Puja.”
    And again some Bengali families worship Ma Lakshmi on Kali Puja night as the non-Bengalis. Every family keeps at least one Picture or pat of Ma Lakshmi in its home.
    When I was a small child my mother taught us (me and my sister) to convey our pranam to God every evening and pray may God grant peace and well being to everybody.
    Maharaj jee, thank you for sending me the blogs.
    Accept our Pranam.
    With regards
    Sunanda Rudra
    Kolkata, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Sunanda
      Many thanks for giving a rundown account of Lakshmi puja among Bengali community!
      Diverse methods of worship are indeed necessary as humanity is not moulded into one outfit of thought. Each individual is temperamentally different from another and the wide choice that is given in our Sanatana dharma is attracting many of the westerners’ attention. This seems to be unique to our Hinduism. On 1st January 1881, Sri Ramakrishna conversed with Brahma Samaj leader Keshab Chandra Sen:

      MASTER (to Keshab and the others): “Do you hear how melodious that music is? One player is producing only a monotone on his flute, while another is creating waves of melodies in different ragas and raginis. That is my attitude. Why should I produce only a mortotone when I have an instrument with seven holes? Why should I say nothing but, ‘I am He, I am He’? I want to play various melodies on my instrument with seven holes. Why should I say only, ‘Brahman! Brahman!‘? I want to call on God through all the moods – through santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhur. I want to make merry with God. I want to sport with God.”
      Keshab listened to these words with wonder in his eyes and said to the Brahmo devotees, “I have never before heard such a wonderful and beautiful interpretation of jnana and bhakti.”

      May the omnipresent Lord awaken us to His immanence!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

      1. Pujonio Maharaj jee,
        Pranam!
        Thank you for your kind reply and nice blogs. They are so educative.
        Hope you are in good health and spirit.
        Corresponding with you always revive the memories of our Ranchi days and of Dungri Ashram…
        With regards
        Sunanda
        Kolkata, India

        Like

  9. Aum Namo Narayanaya
    My humble pranam at your holy feet, Maharaj.
    Thank you for the valuable information, life’s lessons and Hindu concepts that you share with us by means of the article, the responses form readers and Your replies. Although the moment has passed (Vara Lakshmi Vratam), the information on the blog makes a good read any day!
    Thanks again,
    Pranam,
    Nerie Butharam
    Ladysmith, SA

    Like

  10. Namo Narayanaya!
    Respected Maharaj
    My pronam to you.
    After a long time, I opened your blog and find immense pleasure and happiness by learning the glory of Mother Laxmi. Ma Sarada is said to be Mahalaxmi. This is true. We find happiness and peace whenever we read about Ma. She is mother to all and sundry.
    I heard of your illness. How are you now? We are very worried about you.
    At present I am posted at Kolkata. Elder daughter Lalima is in job at Gurgaon, after B tech and MBA and is in in-laws’ house at Delhi, the son-in-law being a software engineer posted at Delhi. Younger one Surupa has completed Btech from Bangalore, Tumkur and preparing for MBA. The docto-madam is in the centre of us, and is at home.
    With my best regards to you and other monks at the centre.
    Santidas Chakravarty
    State Bank of India
    Chowringhee branch, Kolkata

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Santidas
      You must have seen I have resumed my posts in this blog from 1st January 2014. I had three months rest. Now normal.
      Glad to know about your children who were dear to us in the Ranchi ashram. You and your family’s visit brought always joy to every one. How is doctor-madam’s ma who bestowed so much love and reverence in spite of her ailing old age? Unforgettable is my visit to Mihijam!
      Love, best wishes and prayers
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  11. Reblogged this on keshriphysio and commented:
    Aum Namo Narayanaya
    Dearest Maharaj
    My loving pranam at Maharaj‘s lotus feet.
    Thank you for reminding us of this beautiful post on asking ” nothing” and gaining everything. We need by experiencing and let the Grace of Mahalakshmi flow always.
    With love and prayers,
    Kamal and Keshri
    Durban, South Africa

    Like

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