Diwali, the festival of lights is here with its message of celebrating the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. As Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “Diwali is essentially celebrated to lit the light of wisdom in every heart, the light of life in every home and bring a smile on every face.”
Lakshmi Puja, or the worship of the goddess of wealth, is central to Diwali celebrations, especially in North and West India. In Sanskrit Lakshya means the goal. Lakshmi means the one which assists you to go to your goal. The Goal is Narayana or the self.
In a beautiful talk Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has explained these eight forms of wealth or Ashta Lakshmi that can help you to reach the goal. Here are excerpts from the original Hindi Talk on Ashtalakshmi:
ADI LAKSHMI (Primeval wealth): To have the knowledge of our own origin is Adi Lakshmi. Have you ever thought about how you have come to this world? Who am I? After -35-40-50 years, this body won’t remain! Where will I go? Where have I come from? Have I come here or have been here at all times? This knowledge of the source is Adi Lakshmi. The person who gets the knowledge of self, becomes free from all fear and attains contentment and bliss. Adi Lakshmi is found only with the learned ones (wise). The ones who have AdiLakshmi have attained the highest knowledge.
DHAN LAKSHMI (Monetary Wealth): Everyone understands about his kind of wealth. Those who don’t have Dhan Lakshmi stray into adharma (unrighteousness). With the desire for wealth, many get tempted into doing wrong deeds, like violence, thefts, fraud etc. Dhan Lakshmi doesn’t come with force. Even if it comes, it only gives only sorrow and pain. Some people forget that monetary wealth Dhan is not the goal of life. All their life they collect wealth till they die and leave it all behind creating property disputes in the family.
One wealthy man, knowing he would die soon, became very upset. People consoled him and advised him to take the name of God and not feel sad. He replied, “I am upset not because I am dying, but because of this huge wealth which I don’t want to give to my useless children.” An astrologer studied the wealthy man’s stars and predicted that after 25 years he would be reborn again in a particular village with a particular name. Hearing this, the man became very happy and made a will transferring his entire wealth to that name.
When Man makes Dhan / money as the goal he becomes sad. Dhan is Lakshmi, worship it like Lakshmi- honour it. Some people see fault in the Dhan(Wealth) and hold it responsible for all vices. This is not good. When you honour the wealth and make good use of it then Dhan becomes Lakshmi.
VIDHYA LAKSHMI (wealth of knowledge): If you see the picture of Lakshmi and Saraswati, you will see that Lakshmi is on the Lotus flower, above water. Water is unsteady. Saraswati is sitting on a rock. Knowledge brings stability in life. This is the third type of Lakshmi VIDHYA LAKSHMI (wealth of Knowledge/ education). Knowledge also can be misused. If studying becomes the only Lakshya (goal) of someone then Vidhya doesn’t becomes Lakshmi. To study and then to make use of it is Vidhya Lakshmi.
DHANYA LAKSHMI (the wealth of grain): One may have lot of money (Dhan) but but can’t eat anything- can’t eat bread, ghee, rice, salt, sugar! This means there is lack of of Dhanya Lakshmi. We find in the villages of India that people don’t have wealth but have enough grains. They never hesitate to serve food to any guest. They may or may not have money, but they are never short of Dhanya. In comparison to the city people, the food eaten by villagers is superior in quality and quantity. Their digestion power is also good. Honor the food. When vegetables and grains are willfully destroyed to keep food prices high, then we are not honouring our dhanya as Laskhsmi. When food is honoured and it becomes Dhanya Lakshmi.
Dhairya Lakshmi (The wealth of Courage) : In a house there may be everything- Dhan and Dhanya, but courage may be absent. Usually the children from rich families and ruling families are coward. Courgae is a kind of wealth. Usually we ask officers that what type of assistant do you like- The one who comes with fear in front of you or the one who communicates with courage? If your subordinate is scared of you then he won’t tell the truth to you. Workers and assistants who work with courage and honesty are liked and preferred by employers. One gets scared of superiors or authority figures when one is not connected to life. When we don’t know that there is so much power within us, the Divine power that is walking along with us, then we feel the lack of Dhairya Lakshmi. Only with the wealth of courage or Dhairya Lakshmi can one progress in life. The extent of one’s progress directly depends on the presence of Dhairya Lakshmi in one’s life, whether in business or in job.
Santana Lakshmi (Wealth of Progeny) : The children who are the wealth of love, who bring peace, happiness and prosperity bring Santana Lakshmi into the house. Such children due to whom stress disappears or diminishes is Santana Lakshmi. And, the children who bring pain, sadness, unhappiness, disputes are not Santana Lakshmi.
Vijaya Lakshmi (the wealth of victory): Some people despite having all the facilities and resources don’t get success in any work. This denotes lack of Vijaya Lakshmi. If they go by auto rickshaw to the market and it will break down on the way. If they take taxi and finally reach, the shops would be closed. With such people one feels it would have been better if I had done the work myself! The smallest of works they can’t do – there is too much shortage of Vijaya Lakshmi. They will find some or the other excuse and even if there is no excuse the situations turn out such that no work gets done.
Raj Lakshmi (wealth of royalty) is the one who with the power to rule. Sometimes the Minister or Ruler occupy the highest office and yet nobody listens to what they say. In some offices we find no one listens to the boss but an office clerk will rule and everyone listens to him. Often the head of a small village or trade union wield more power over people than the President or Prime Minister. The power to rule (govern) is being given by the nature to the people. There’s lot of blessing of Rajya Lakshmi on them. It is not necessary that they have Dhan Lakshmi, Dhanaya Lakshmi, Dhairya Lakhsmi, Santana Lakshmi, but they may have Rajya Lakhsmi, the power to rule the land.
These eight types of wealth are all connected to each other. Everyone has these eight wealths in more or less quantities. How much do we honor them, make use of them, is up to us. The absence of these eight Lakshmi is called- Ashta Daridrta (Miseries). Whether Lakshmi is there or not, Narayana can still be adapted. Narayan belongs to both – Lakshmi Narayan and Daridra Narayan!
Daridra Narayan is served and Laskshmi Narayan is worshipped. The entire life flow is moving from Daridra Narayan to Lakshmi Narayan- from misery to prosperity, from dryness in life towards the Divine nectar.