Sri Ma Amrutvani Navratri Celebrations Third Day

Goddess Mahalakshmi has manifested as various Shakti (Goddess) forms. Lakshmi represents truth, chastity and grandeur. She is the blessed consort of Lord Vishnu.

Sage Bhrigu and his wife begot a very pretty young girl child. Her beauty was unsurpassable in the three worlds. The girl was endowed with many virtues and divine qualities. Hence, She was named‘Lakshmi’. The meaning of the word ‘Lakshmi’ is to be virtuous and divine.

As years went by, young Lakshmi, gained divine wisdom by listening to the conversations between her father, Sage Bhrigu, and other great sages like Narada, who visited her home frequently. Intermittently in the conversations the one name that she heard the most number of times, whose glories the Sages never tired to sing, was that of Lord Narayana. Lakshmi became divinely enamoured of the Lord and in her heart of heart regarded Him as her husband. Lakshmi’s thoughts were intensely concentrated on Him whom the great ones knew as being the Supreme One.

Thereafter, Lakshmi immersed herself in penance seeking the Lord for her husband. Thousands of years elapsed yet Lakshmi carried on Her endeavour relentlessly. As a result of Lakshmi’s powerful penance a kind of fire began to rage in the three worlds. The increased heat due to
the fire began to be experienced all over.

Any penance of this kind causes such difficulty to the pantheon of gods that they are incapable of bearing it. Lord Indra forthwith began to wonder why Lakshmi, a woman, was performing such intense penance.“What for has she resorted to such austerities? Does she intend to douse the whole universe in fire and reduce everything to ashes? The heat from her penance is almost unbearable,” thought Lord Indra. Then, all on a sudden, it flashed in Indra’s inward eye, that Lakshmi was hopeful to marry Lord Narayana, the father of the Universe. And so, she was on the path of pleasing the Lord so that he may take her as His consort. So, Indra donned the guise of Lord Narayana and appeared before Lakshmi. He said, “Open your eyes O great lady! I have come. Ask whatever boon you may wish and it will be fulfilled.” Lakshmi smiled as she knew in her mind that it was Indra who had appeared as Lord Vishnu to test her. This time though the examinee too developed an urge to test the examiner. Mahalakshmi, as she is, asked Indra in Vishnu’s guise, “O Lord! I wish to behold Your Universal Form. Kindly grant me the blessedness of seeing Your All Encompassing, All Pervading, Almighty form.” Indra felt ashamed and at that very moment he fell at Lakshmi’s feet and said, “O Mother of the Universe! Kindly pardon Thy son for attempting to impersonate the Lord of lords, Narayana. Please do not cast a curse over me.” Lakshmi replied, “O Indra! You call me Mother and also accuse me of being capable of cursing you. Can Mother ever curse her own child? I bless you to be endowed with all happiness and glory.” Lord Indra prostrated himself before Lakshmi Devi and headed straight to Vaikuntha seeking humbly Lord Vishnu’s audience. Indra related everything about Lakshmi Devi to Lord Vishnu and entreated Him to accept her as His consort. At the behest of Indra, Lord Vishnu appeared before Lakshmi and granted her a boon. On beholding her beloved Lord Lakshmi Devi spoke in the following string: “O Lord of lords! Kindly grant me the vision of Your Universal Form (Vishwa Roopa Darshan).” The Lord obliged without ado and gave Lakshmi the vision of His dazzling, Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient form. Lakshmi surrendered to Her Lord and the Lord on His part accepted Lakshmi as His consort. This is how the first manifestation of Lakshmi unfolded in time.

The story about the second manifestation of Mahalakshmi and how again she became the consort of Mahavishnu is as follows.

When the fight for supremacy between the gods and the demons reached the zenith the former sought the intervention of Lord Vishnu for a solution so that the conflict may come to an end soon with the gods emerging victorious. Lord Mahavishnu gave a solution. He said, “O gods! Churn the ocean to extract nectar that will grant you immortality. Use Mount Meru as a pestle and the Lord of the snakes, Vasuki, as a rope. Strike a truce with the demons and have them churn from one side whereas you all take the other side. I will Myself descend in the form of a Turtle (Koorma Avatar) and support Meru from the bottom so as to prevent it from sinking. Gaining immortality is the only way to subject the Asuras (Demons) to defeat.” The idea of striking a truce with the demons and taking their help in the churning of the ocean for obtaining nectar was not acceptable to the Devas (Gods). They said, “O Lord! If we take the help of the demons then they will also stake their claim over the nectar. We will have to give them their rightful share. Then they will also become immortal and wreak havoc in the three worlds. The blessed Lord then said, “O Devas! Do not worry. Go in peace. That the demons must fail in their wicked plans is my look out. I will see to it that their evil devices are doomed. With these reassuring words of the Lord of the Universe Himself the gods acceded to temporarily compromise with the demons.

The churning of the ocean was completed successfully. During the churning, before the nectar was obtained, many different objects, things and Beings emerged from the ocean. Airavat, the elephant, different medicinal herbs and even some deadly poison surfaced from it. Goddess Mahalakshmi too manifested from the ocean and offered Herself at the Lotus Feet of Lord Vishnu.

With every descent of the Lord one is bound to witness the advent of the Divine Mother. That is the reason why Lord Narayana is also known as ‘Lakshmi Prabho’. The divine name of Goddess Lakshmi precedes that of the blessed Lord. Thus the chant ‘Lakshmi Narayana’ came about. Mahashakti is the only cause of all creation. Anything in the universe is obtainable by the Grace of the Divine Mother. Day to day phenomena is a result of the Divine Will of Shakti. The divine strength of the Goddess resides in women. So much so that women may be called manifestations of Goddess Shakti. That is why no prosperity, success or fame may be attained by men without the support or contribution of women.

In every household, the men, be they fathers, uncles, brothers, husbands or sons, should pray for the well being of the women of the household and also treat them in a good manner. The women of the household must cultivate peace and cheer within themselves so that the others too in the household develop such a mental disposition. Men who step out to earn money will perform better at their work if the ladies in the house have a clear mind. Women take upon themselves roles of a mother, wife, sister, aunt, daughter etc. and work for the welfare of all. Inimical qualities cannot in any manner lay their hold over the character of a woman. Women living in households do bear noble desires. Respecting them and their expectations is very important. Even women must care for their family members, both males and females. There must be a spirit of co-existence and co-operation in the running of a house. Women and men are like the two wheels in the chariot of worldly life. When both function alongside each other in a smooth, cohesive and co-ordinated manner the world and the people and the creatures in it will be joyous and peaceful. For this men will have to take notice and give due importance to the outlook and desires of women and also take into consideration their opinions and advice while making important decisions or resolving various problems. Opinions given by women must be accepted and carried out if valid whereas if they are not acceptable then atleast they must not be humiliated for expressing their feelings. To humiliate or insult someone is a sin. One humiliates or ridicules others due to a lack of conviction or courage in one’s own thinking and feelings. Listening to others with patience or tolerance, strength and courage opens the floodgates to infinite wisdom.

Mirabai, the great devotee, once visited a saintly person. On reaching the latter’s Ashram she sought an audience with the great man. Upon receiving the request an attendant at once replied to Mirabai that his master never met ladies. In fact, sometimes he would even get very angry on seeing women. So, he will have to first convey to his master the credentials of Mirabai and only then maybe he might consider meeting her. This process would be time consuming and hence Mirabai would have to wait patiently if she really wanted to have the noble one’s Darshan. On hearing the reply Mirabai told the attendant with a smile on her face, “Is there anybody greater than Lord Krishna who lifted the mighty Mount Govardhana on his little finger and held it aloft for days together? There is none greater or mightier than the Lord of the Universe. Rest all of us are feeble. The Great Lord alone is the Male, rest all of us are females.” Neither is any work small or big nor is any person superior or inferior on the basis of his occupation or achievements. One who recognises all work as important is only a great man in this world. He is pure and perfect. Work must be performed completely, skillfully and gracefully, with a lot of humility. This will give rise to the power of accomplishing things in you and you will become great.

All work is important irrespective of which gender is usually engaged in its execution. Work that a small child does is also important as also that done by a maid or a helper. Every work must be given due importance. Have an open mind and pay attention to all that is told to you. Men are usually wont to not paying heed to the words of the women of the household on account of egoism. This usually results in grief for all. Ladies must also, at the same time, amiably present their views on pertinent matters in front of the gents. Men must accept constructive suggestions and opinions from women and not disregard them thinking of it as dishonour. Only then will a man and his wife be able to run a successful household. Harmonious families will give rise to peaceful and happy societies that in turn will ensure progressiveness in the functioning and affairs of the Nation as a whole.

The treatment meted out to women in our country is not so good. Despite women being considered manifestations of Goddess Shakti by our scriptures and culture they continue to be humiliated, suppressed, denied opportunity etc. They are called Griha Lakshmi and held worshipful but in many families they are demeaned. Many atrocities are perpetrated against them for the sake of dowry or for upholding false beliefs. People are mad after money everywhere. They do anything for it; even adopt unfair means. They safeguard it in banks, lockers etc. They willingly accept insults of all sorts, become fatigued, but still relentlessly strive for the growth of their wealth. Even after earning enough and sometimes excess money they treat women in their homes unfairly whom they should actually be reverential towards and because of whom they are seeing the success in their respective vocations. It often happens that such men give hardly any money to their wives for running the household, for their personal expenditures and so on. On the contrary the lady has to often listen to abuses if she spent above the budget a little here and there. Women are deprived of even their small wishes. Their happiness is not considered at all. They are stereotyped as being weak and unintelligent. All this is wrong and unfair. A nation where such things happen can never progress. Unfortunately, some books from which some religions draw authority speak of women as being very low. Severe measures are suggested to keep the womenfolk in chains. The followers-the males-of such doctrines must consider their actions in the light of equality and justice and derive whether females deserve inhuman treatment. Conscience, the inner voice, will always guide in the right direction.

Women are born as images of the Divine Mother. Leaving this divine feeling men borrow words from other’s mouths and talk ill about women.

Earlier in the talk, I introduced to all of you the magnificent, ornamental qualities of Goddess Lakshmi who is free of any blemish whatsoever. What is a blemish or taint? Is beauty of appearance a good quality? Malice and cruelty are bad qualities. The demoness Putana was a den of all bad qualities. She was assigned the task of killing the infant Lord Krishna by Kamsa. To accomplish her mission Putana adorned herself exquisitely and arrived in Gokul. Her beautiful form captivated one and all. People thought of her as a celestial being. No one knew of her malicious motives. Unsuspectingly they allowed Putana to gather the infant Lord Krishna onto her lap. peme efomeleæb leme vemeleb cnCetve peie HeÀmeleb is a Marathi saying. All that glitters is not gold. There is always more to anything than meets the eye. Mere outward show while the real motive being unclean is far from being a sign of nobility. Only a heart purified with divine thoughts and feelings can be beautiful. Rest all is skin deep.

Goddess Mahalakshmi possesses both inner and outer beauty. Merely having the name Lakshmi and not possessing any virtues is no good. Nobility in thought, word and deed is a must. Women must possess an exemplary character.

Goddess MahaLakshmi is seen seated on a Lotus in a pond full of Lotus blossoms. The Lotus blossom shows how one must live aloof of the world despite being in the midst of everything. Lotus rests on the surface of the water that may be marshy. Its petals never become wet. They remain clean and untainted. Water cannot remain over the petal at all. Goddess Mahalakshmi is the presiding deity of wealth and riches. She bestows prosperity and happiness. Nevertheless, Goddess Mahalakshmi is all pervasive. She permeates the entire universe but reveals Her resplendent form to only that person whose heart is free of the shackles of the sensory world. Goddess Mahalakshmi ever remains absorbed in the contemplation of Lord Vishnu. Her mind rests forever at the Lotus Feet of the Lord of the Universe. Goddess Mahalakshmi is constantly teaching us to adore Divinity through Her own example.

It is not so that the Goddess resides only in a forest pond amidst lotus blossoms. You will meet disappointment if you set out to seek Her in that place as your search will be limited to the physical plane. The analogy to draw from Goddess Mahalakshmi’s picture in a lotus pond is that this illusory, physical world may disintegrate at any time without warning and our bodies are equally ephemeral. So, fill your mind with love for God and lofty thoughts of renunciation and detachment. Remain aloof of the world even while living its midst. Have love and compassion or else you will fall back in your spiritual progress. The image of Goddess Lakshmi with a lotus in Her hand is indicative of the Divine Mother’s message to all of you that while living in the world constantly strive to live above it like how a lotus blossoms above the surface of the water. The depiction of different Gods and Goddesses always conveys some inner meaning. Try to understand and learn them. There are ample instructive stories about Gods and Goddesses as told by our ancestors. You have inherited them but have failed to imbibe them.

Now-a-days, people, after knowing a few hymns, some mantras or a few phrases or verses in Sanskrit start to think big of themselves and harbour a swollen ego. They think they have achieved erudition.

The purpose of Avatars or Divine Manifestations is to serve the whole world. They return again and again to earth if they do not feel fulfilled by the service they have rendered. Lord Krishna has said,‘mecYeJeeefce ³egies ³egies’ sambhavämi yuge yuge. Do not consider the words of the Lord as meaning Satyuga, Dwaparayuga, Tretayuga or Kaliyuga. Every moment of strife or grief is equivalent to the word Yuga uttered by the Lord. God manifests the moment you remember Him. Even if you don’t remember Him when the going is easy He does not forsake you in times of trouble. He honours His promise. God can appear in front of you in any form. The mace and the sudarshana chakra in the Lord’s hands indicate that you must wage war against your own evil propensities and annihilate them. Inimical qualities are the cause of your misery. Destroy them and you shall attain happiness.

Be embellished with noble qualities, have enthusiasm and engage yourself in service all the time. Service must be rendered at the time of need. Service done when it is not required is not service at all. Watch yourself all the time. At the time of rendering service safeguard your mind from unfavourable thoughts. A situation wherein service is rendered is often highly dynamic and everything may not fall in place the way you desire. However, you must not relent to the circumstances and forsake your high-mindedness and lofty spirit even a little. Keep them up and the service rendered will strike fruition of its own.

Goddess Mahalakshmi always facilitated Lord Mahavishnu in achieving His purpose during His many advents or Avatars. You too can persevere to facilitate great work if you feel you do not have the ability to undertake them all on your own. Even spiritually, if you are unable to practise meditation, Japam etc. you must not discourage others from doing it. You must encourage others knowing clearly that spiritual practices alone can bestow unending happiness. Become a facilitator there. Learn to find happiness in others’ success. I have Myself witnessedin many temples, Ashrams and especially Gurudwaras many different people rendering service in the forms of taking care of the footwear of visiting devotees, offering them water to drink and for washing their feet etc. The people rendering service must bear the attitude that devotees coming from places afar to offer their obeisances and to worship the Guru or God must be made to feel comfortable and at ease. He or she must think that the Great Lord Himself has appeared as His devotees and with this feeling the service must be rendered. So, take out time from your busy schedule to engage in service activities. Do not be under the false impression that those who are engaged in rendering service at footwear counters in big temples or Gurudwaras are ordinary people. They are often big merchants, traders, officers, bureaucrats, businesspeople etc. These are people who understand and value the importance of service and hence with a view to rise spiritually they perform them in the name of the Lord or the Guru. Charity need not always be monetary or in kind. You can endeavour and offer the charity of your effort. Seva or service is a very high form of charity. If you cannot do even so little then your human life is no better than that of fallen, dry leaves.

In Ashrams and in places of worship of the Guru, devotees must take care not to act unbecomingly. One must also ensure to complete the work undertaken. Doing work for some time and then going away leaving it incomplete is very wrong. Doing work only to show-off is bad. Even to think oneself as being indispensable is not correct. The dwelling place of the Lord or the Guru becomes charged with divine vibrations due to Satsanga. The Lord or the Guru requires nobody to perform the tasks of service there. If not you then someone else will come or even if no one comes then God will enter Himself and see to it that the work is accomplished. The Lord has shown through the lives of many saints that He remains ever eager to be of service to His devotees.‘What will happen if I don’t be there? I must go or else something untoward will happen! I am the most important person for that work.’ All these statements and the sort of tension that it creates are totally unnecessary. Once you come to the Lotus Feet of the Lord all tensions must vanish.

You can attain anything under the sun if you yearn and work for it sincerely. Have you noticed that sometimes you are deep in thought about somebody and that person all of a sudden comes in front of you? If a mere mortal can come to you by the power of your thought then why won’t God appear in front of you whom He loves beyond compare. You are very close to the Lord. Only prayer devoid of love and devotion can avert the Lord from manifesting Himself in your heart. Otherwise the Lord is ever eager to occupy the heart of His devotee and make it a veritable temple. If you exhibit slackness in your thinking or let go of your resolve to attain God then be ready to face failure that will be a direct consequence of your actions. What you sow so shall you reap. You alone will be responsible for the outcome.

A true devotee must surrender himself or herself to the will of God. If not then there shall remain a divide between the God and the devotee. They will not become One. This will give rise to untold grief and agony. Anger and the other evil qualities will make the devotee’s mind their home and create a chaotic condition. God need not always adhere to the petitions of a devotee. If the devotee asserts his whims and fancies then there will be no surrender to the will of God. A devotee’s arrogance will be seen on the rise if the feeling wells up that God will appear everytime he or she prays. Sublimate to higher states of existence by giving up petty desires. Completely surrender to the Lord what is His own. Offer yourself to God with love and devotion. Be dutiful and have faith in the Lord. If your intention is to serve the world then help will flow to you from all directions. God will shower His Grace on you but remember He will never do anything to purely satisfy your wishes.

I started my talk explaining to you all the significance of Goddess Mahalakshmi, the Divine Mother. I wish to conclude by saying that it is a widespread mis-conception that Lakshmi means only wealth and riches. Possessions and property of every type are merely material and illusory. Mahalakshmi resides not in illusory objects but is Herself a home of all divine qualities. If you want to attain Her Lotus Feet then you must purge yourself of all evil, inimical tendencies. Destroy your ego that is the root cause of all sorrow and evil. The Divine Mothers, Mahalakshmi, Maha Saraswati and Mahakali will surely then shower their Grace and Blessings on you and grant you eternal peace and happiness.