By Badal Suchak
The Ashtalakshmi Strota celebrates wealth in all its eight manifestations, of which money is only one part, says Badal Suchak. A Diwali special
Honestly speaking, having money has instilled in me a certain sense of peace and security. At the beginning of my professional life, lack of sufficient money used to be a source of stress and anxiety. Moreover, I used to feel close-hearted as I counted every penny spent. My spiritual explorations led me to meeting several seekers, some of who, though ‘spiritually inclined’ had cunning and manipulative ways of getting their material needs met through others who had more money. I’d have lost self-respect had I resorted to such distorted ways of acquiring money. Nor did I have the humility to become a monk who lived on alms. So I decided to focus on earning a living righteously, while continuing with my spiritual practice.
Over the years I have realised that money is only as important as it should be. Neither more, nor less important than its place in human requirements.
In my exploration to understand money, I came across Ashtalakshmi Stotra, a wonderful traditional hymn with eight verses in praise of various forms of Goddess Lakshmi. The hymn enumerates eight aspects of wealth out of which money is only one, and interestingly, the last one on the list.
It has been traditionally believed that on reciting the hymns, one receives blessings from the eight forms of Lakshmi. I would like to share my understanding of the eight forms of Goddess Lakshmi over here.
1. Adi Lakshmi (the primordial aspect)
Adi Lakshmi sits at the feet of Lord Vishnu, and serves Him. Symbolically, she signifies inner richness, peace and contentment, and a commitment to serving a higher purpose. Dedicating our talents and skills to a positive purpose invites abundance in our life.
2. Dhanya Lakshmi
She presides over food grains, signifying the importance of a nutritious diet for a healthy body. On a deeper level, Dhanya Lakshmi invites us to be sensitive to nature. We need to learn to co-exist peacefully and harmoniously with other living beings on Earth. Being insensitive to other life forms can have a disastrous effect on all. One who respects nature is truly wealthy.
3. Dhairya Lakshmi
‘Dhairya’ means patience, which is a highly valued quality. Our actions, however perfect, may not bear instant fruit. Therefore patience helps us to stay stable, while waiting for the outcome. It also helps us to stay emotionally detached from the result. Similarly, all the good qualities developed are a part of our wealth.
4. Gaja Lakshmi
Goddess Gaja Lakshmi has two elephants by her side pouring nectar over her in reverence. Praying to Gaja Lakshmi is believed to bestow royal powers, fame and recognition on a person. From a deeper perspective, a person who is knowledgeable, hard working, and virtuous, becomes successful in his field, and earns respect and admiration. Such a person is a money magnet who wields much soft power. He is a celebrity whose personal brand value is so high that he can generate wealth simply by his presence. Therefore to be successful, it is important to be aware of how we are perceived by others. Ideally, there should be no gap in the real self, and the one being projected to the world. This means we need to do the inner work required to drop all masks and repose in our essential self. Developing self-awareness and an authentic social image, is an important aspect of generating wealth.
5. Santaan Lakshmi
‘Santaan’ literally means progeny. Nurturing a child, and instilling good qualities in him, ensures a good future for society. The presence of a child in life, makes one naturally generous and giving, without harbouring expectations. A good, strong and prosperous civilisation too, is built on the shoulders of a series of constructive and creative generations. And good progeny help in the advancement of this purpose.
One of the most interesting phrases in praise of Santaan Lakshmi is ‘gunaganavaridhi, lokahitaishini’ which means ‘one who is an ocean of good qualities and has Her mind on the well-being of the world.’ Therefore, one must be mindful of the impact his/her work is having on society. The social impact of our work will determine the quality of wealth generated by us.
6. Vijay Lakshmi
Success is guaranteed for a person who possesses knowledge, skills, wisdom and good qualities. Even though its final form may differ from one’s expectations, no effort gets wasted. True victory includes joyful acceptance of the results of one’s hard work. By applying the law of attraction, one can attract success by being magnanimous and joyfully appreciative of others.
7. Vidya Lakshmi
Knowledge is essential to earn a living. One must invest time and energy in developing required skills. Both knowledge and skill can be diligently acquired, and are permanent wealth, unlike money which is perishable.
8. Dhan Lakshmi
This verse has a celebratory feel to it. Money earned by developing all the above aspects of Ashtalakshmi, can be a source of joy, and one can truly live in the spirit of celebration. Contemplating on the eight aspects of wealth as symbolically depicted in the Ashtalakshmi Stotra can lead us into a deeper understanding of true wealth.
I feel happy and grateful to have come to a point of right balance in my relationship with wealth. I have learnt to live in abundance without being overindulgent. Said Sri Aurobindo, “Live a simply rich and beautiful life.”
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