Practicing Sanathana Dharma
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Who is Mahalakshmi?

(Originally published on Feb.08, 2010)

Many people think Goddess Mahalakshmi is Lord Vishnu’s consort. This is not entirely true!

Mahalakshmi is the supreme Deity Who is also known as Tripura Sundari or Sri Vidya or Lalithambika or Lalitha. Mahalakshmi is the confluence of Lakshmi (satvic), Saraswathi (rajasik) and Kali (tamasik) powers. Here, the term “Maha” is not an adjective used for the noun “Lakshmi”.

While Lord Vishnu’s consort is Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Vishnu Himself is a Sri Vidya Upasaka, i.e., He worships Mahalakshmi. This is exemplified through Lord Hayagreeva’s chanting of Lalita Sahasranama Sthothram to Sage Agasthya.

Therefore, while Goddess Lakshmi is very much present in Mahalakshmi, Mahalakshmi is NOT Lord Vishnu’s consort. Those who are interested to go deeper into the subject may kindly read the following scriptures and enrich their knowledge:

  • Tripura Rahasya
  • Lalithopakhyanam
  • Soundarya Lahari
  • Lalitha Sahasranama Sthothram (Bhashyam)
  • Devi Mahatmyam

There are several other holy texts as well as sthothras which confirm the subject.

For example, many people chant “Mahalakshmi Ashtakam” in the local Mahalakshmi temple (Tulsa, OK).  When you explore the verses and their true meaning, you will easily understand the truth.

In its true essence, Mahalakshmi is the Cosmic Power called Sakthi which maintains the Vibrancy (Vishnu) as well as make one realize his/her true identity (Siva). Mahalakshmi is the supreme Saktheya Deity Who embody the real knowledge (wisdom) towards Self Realization. Her two lower hands signify Abhayam (protection or shielding from misguidance) and Varadam (blessings to receive true guidance). Her two upper hands carry the sacred lotus flower signifying nothing other than the invisible lotus, called the “Sahasrara Dala Padmam” (thousand petaled lotus), in our astral body, which is positioned beyond the six chakras.

The local temple (Tulsa, OK) is unique wherein Mahalakshmi (Sakthi) is the presiding deity with Lord Siva (the Core) and Lord Vishnu (the Vibrancy) on either side. Therefore, Poojas and Rituals should not be limited to those applicable to Goddess Lakshmi alone. One of the most important mantras that needs to be chanted here is none other than Sri Lalita Sahasranama Sthothram.

Lord Vinayaka, who represents the first chakra called Mooladhara is there! Lord Subrahmanya who represent the Sahasraradala Padma is also there, though is not given prominence. Being present at extreme ends of the Brahma Randhra (embodied in the Sushumna), Lord Vinayaka represents the beginning and hence, is the “elder” brother.  Lord Subrahmanya who is at the end of the journey is the “younger” brother and is the fruit of wisdom (known as Jnana Pazham in Tamil) yielded at the end of the journey where both the Sadhaka and Sadhana disappear.

Everything is scientific; our sages had devised a system and made it simple enough so that we follow the system and understand the truth. GOD is within; Deities in temples are mirrors to reflect the Truth (one’s true nature).

Past comments and replies

Submitted on 2012/03/05 at 10:39 am | In reply to anil

Dear Anil,

Sanatana Dharma is wide open to interpretation, thanks to the wondrous Sanskrit language though our sages never ever meant misinterpretation of what they taught from the Sruthis. The Truth that is Sanatanam was taught and documented which, over hundreds of years, perceived differently giving rise to Dvaitham, Dvaithadvaitham, Visishtradvaitham and so on. Advaitham simply does not belong to this perception. Because Advaitham is the Truth which was perceived in different relative boundaries to give rise to the above philosophies. Different philosophies always arise out of different perceptions of the same & single Truth. This does not make the perceptions wrong as long as those who perceive stay within their respectively relative boundaries.

Pure sunlight is white for some whereas white is not a color for some; white contains within itself all other colors though. As long as we keep using shaded glasses (philosophies) to look at this white light (truth), the light will assume the color of the shade. The one who looks at this light through shades cannot be blamed because the person is simply not aware of the shade that is in between. The person’s knowledge gained from various sources of (rightly or wrongly interpreted) texts decides the depth of such shades.

Unfortunately, these days, man is more dependent on machine logic rather than True logic that must arise from knowledge combined with experience. This reminds me of a vaishnava priest who interpreted the archana mantras for Lord Vinayaka as Creator of Obstacles (Om Vighna Kartre Namah) and Remover of Obstacles (Om Vighna Hartre Namah) and portrayed Lord Ganesa as a Rakshasa (daemon). When I objected to this interpretation which played a role in his resigning from the temple duty, I became the most hated person in the local community; many of its members have no clue about their own roots of Sanatana Dharma.

Lakshmi is Vishnu’s sakthi (saguna); Lakshmi is Mahavishnu’s sakthi (nirguna); Mahalakshmi (one of whose derivatives is Lakshmi) is not only Mahavishnu’s sakthi but also Siva’s sakthi. Mahalakshmi is Raw or Abstract Energy in Infinite form. No Gunas are present here; it gives rise to thousands of Gunas (known as devathas) in combination with Siva and Vishnu. The ultimate Upsana of Mahalakshmi is through Sreevidyopasana which is not easy and is said to be the toughest. The Sreeyantra or Sreechakra simply represents the top view of the subtle body of man. The bindu at centre is nothing but the Brahma Randhra which begins at the Mooladhara and goes past the Sahasrara Chakra.

Lalitha Sahasranama Sthothram and Soundarya Lahari are two excellent sources of text that highlight the numerous attributes of Sree Chakra (Mahalakshmi), the Supreme Nirguna Sakthi.

Submitted on 2012/03/02 at 9:12 am | In reply to Narayanan Kameswaran

Dear Narayanan

what ever I had written is based upon random reading of puranas over net and is not of my view…infact i dont have any view in this matter and neither do i know how sri vaishnavas interpret this issue..yes i agree with u that our santana dharma is wide open to interpretation..from one brahmasutras written by vedavyas we have advaita, dvatia and vishitadvaita, shuddadvaita etc derived. i believe that all traditions are true and every thing is worthy of respect..however i was just wondering that if lakshmi is the shakti of vishnu then logically mahalakshmi is the shakti of mahavishnu..i was searching on shakti and lakshmi and i chanced upon this wonderful blog.. can u further elaborate about mahalakshmi and how to do her upasana etc..thanks

Submitted on 2012/02/27 at 3:13 pm | In reply to anil

Dear Anil,

Kindly note that my article is not entirely based on the Saaktheya tradition; not at least the way traditions are viewed and (mis)understood today. Traditions have given rise to both obsession and hatred among those who “blindly” follow each. Traditions are mutually binding; they project different perspectives of the same Truth, rooted on Sanathana Dharma. The latter part of your view seems to be based on the tradition of Sree Vaishanvism or Vaishnavism. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Siva (statics), Vishnu (dynamics or vibrancy) and Sakthi (energy) are “projected” attributes of the same Truth – the Brahman. It can also be stated that Sakthi’s role is “seen” only when either of the two are active. The Saaktheyaas interpret this as Sakthi’s supreme nature over the other two. This is not wrong as long as one does not look upon the other two with contempt like some Vaishanvites do towards Saiva Deities. In fact, one can wake up to his/her True Nature through any of these attributes. A Tradition is born when one attribute is glorified or made “active” and the others made “passive”. The others cannot disappear; they simply become passive but they are always there.

As you rightly said, Sakthi is Energy. Energy is feminine and takes innumerable forms which are personified as Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Parvathi, Durga, Kali and so on. Each form fulfils a specific purpose. Mahavishnu is the Vibrancy in Nirguna (abstract or raw) form. All saguna forms as well as incarnations of Mahavishnu emanate from this Nirguna Vibrancy with the aid of Sakthi or “Vidya”. In other words, Energy makes the Vibrancy “appear” to take numerous forms and each of these forms has specific attrtibutes or characteristics “magnified”.

Similarly, Mahalakshmi is Energy in Nirguna form and hence, the Mother of all forms or derivatives of Sakthi. Specific forms such as Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi are derivatives of this abstract Sakthi. Here, “Maha” is not to be looked upon as an adjective to glorify the specific Sakthi “Lakshmi”. It is also worth mentioning here that through Mantropasana, one can start from “Lakshmi” (Saguna sakthi) and reach “Mahalakshmi” (Nirguna Sakthi). In effect, the person wakes up to his True Nature, through Sakthi and hence, it becomes the Saktheya Maargam (tradition). In the other traditions, the Savia Deities
and the Vaishnava Deities are glorified respectively. When we experience one attribute through its associated tradition, we also begin experiencing the others and reach the final destination – the Brahman – one’s True Nature.

Submitted on 2012/02/27 at 11:29 am by Anil

Dear Narayanan

I think you are interpreting as per saktha tradition. Just like how we have maha lakshmi similarly there is maha vishnu who is different from vishnu.. In sanatana dharma the female goddesses are representative of the energy(shakti) of the male god(the source of energy), just like how sun is the source and sunlight is the energy..lakshmi is the shakti of vishnu similarly maha lakshmi is the energy(shakti) of maha vishnu..there are many more expansions of maha vishnu like garbhodakasayi vishnu and kshirodakasayi vishnu…all the incarnations eminate from this kshirodakasayi vishnu..similarly lord narayan also has 4 major expansions..these are vasudev, sankarsana, aniruddha and pradyumna…

Submitted on 2010/02/18 at 7:30 am by Rudresh

As per gunas, three Gods having following gunas:

Vishnu– satav
Shiv- Tamas
Brahma– rajas

But somewhere I read that One great Spirtual guru said that this is bit contradicting and Shiv should be satav , Vishnu as Rajas ( as he runs the world) and Brahma should be tamas( as Iam or it is me is requires to create something)

Now just combine the God with their consorts and this conflict will also be clear.

Brahma is rajas as he is creator form and his shakti or consort is saraswati tamas, which is providing all the I am requires for creation.

Vishnu is satav as sat is requires to sustain creation and his shakti consort laxmi is rajas who is providing all rajas nature requires for creation to work.

Shiv is Tamas as he is destroyer, he is darkness , a empty space but that is truth also. to sustain it requires sat and that is provided by his consort gauri who is satav.

This also clear that why in some text Gauri is said as vishnu sister as both are from mahasaraswati and both as satav.

Shiv is Tamas as he symbloise destruction but…

Submitted on 2010/02/18 at 7:18 am by Rudresh

Hi

Nice article. But one thing I want to correct. Mahalaxmi (as per devi mahatmyam) from tamas nature produces maha kali and satav nature produces : mahasaraswati. So mahasaraswati is satav .

Another thing these three further divided or formed three pair

Mahakali– shiva and saraswati ( thus saraswati is tamas nature, where as maha saraswati is satav nature)

Maha laxmi–laxmi and brahma ( both thus rajas nature)

Maha Sarawati– Vishnu and Gauri ( both thus satav nature)

this is as per shakat .

where as other like vishnu puran consideres laxmi to be one who come out during sagar manthan. but thats different story.

Submitted on 2010/02/10 at 8:35 pm by Anuradha Mahesh

I fully agree that Chanting Lalita Sahasranama Sthothram in our daily life improves the quality of our character and over a period of time, we will attain Saatwik Bhava as our Base Character and realise the amazing mental strength that we gain when we are in the midst of all sorts of trauma in life. Lalita Sahasranama Sthothram also has Thattwartha (meaning for human beings like us to interpret) as per my Guruji Brahmasree Sri. N. Kameswaran’s advice.

For example, Quoting my Guruji’s words, the verse “Nija Sallaapa Maadhurya Vinirbarsitha Kachhapi” which comes in Lalita Sahasranama Sthothram says that every female should speak in such a way that the words that come out from their mouth should be as soft and melodious as the Music that comes from a Veena (Musical Instrument – Kacchapi) which will eventually bring in peace and happiness in their homes.

Submitted on 2010/02/08 at 7:26 pm by Rajendran

Dear Narayanan,

I have learned something new. I did not have any preconceived notions on the subject and, that might have helped. This article from you only reinforces my conviction that each deity has universal attributes. Long live Sanathana Dharma.

One thought on “Who is Mahalakshmi?

  1. mahesh25

    nice post! Maa lakshmi always blesses her devotees in need Every year during Navarathri and dhanteras me and my mother offer prayers to maa Durga by chanting durga mantra and lakshmi stotram with devotion.

    January 1, 2017 at 7:50 am

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