MEET MANOJ'S MURTIS PART III: LAKSHMI
Mantra: Om Shrim Maha Lakshmi Yei Namah
Summary: Lakshmi teaches us to embrace life with abundance: both material and spiritual. She is also the Goddess of Shri: that which gives you luminosity and enables to create beauty in every aspect of our life.
Lakshmi holds Lotuses in each hand because it represents purity or sattva. A Lotus blooms in mud or a dirty pond. She says your true nature is like a Lotus and can bloom regardless of your sorroundings. With her right hand, she does the Abhaya Mudra which is the palm facing out. This means protection and fearlessness where she removes fears and uncertainties within you on your way to Abundance. With her left hand, she gives abundance and properity, the Varada Mudra. The abundance she grants you is universal abundance where everything in the Universe is part of you. This signifies the Tantric way of Awakening where the realization dawns that everything is Shri, this is the Pravritti path of expansion in Tantra. This is the symbolism of the peacock that spreads its beautiful feathers in the spring. Lakshmi is also the Goddess of Shri which is the luminous quality some people have, the way they talk, the way they dress, the way they look, the way they do any job - there is a luminous glow about them. Even menial tasks are done with Shri - I once saw a sweeper clean the floor of a toilet with Shri. Every moment is life, be it good or bad, is embraced wholeheartedly.
The worldly Goddess Lakshmi teaches us to be Grihastha Yogis, the path of the householder. She teaches us to bring the ashram home!
Creating an Altar and Meditating in front of Lakshmi
You may set up an altar anywhere in your home and make it a sacred space for you to have a daily meditation practice. Place a statue of Lakshmi on a cloth and decorate the altar with candles, flowers, incense, pictures of teachers or anyone meaningful in your life. You may have multiple archetypes however you meditate only on one deity at a time as the energies are different. The time period in meditation is totally up to you and there is no fixed time. For instance, anywhere from 2-60 min, whatever is comfortable to you. It's more important to be natural and relaxed while meditating and not try to still the mind. Instead of trying to quench the thoughts (which takes a lifetime of practice if not more, and is the entire premise of Patanjali yoga), you focus on the gap or the space between your thoughts. This gap is pure consciousness because your thoughts are overlaid on consciousness. This gap is similar to the gap between mantras so mantra based meditation may be useful here. When thoughts recede, your mind is suffused with pure consciousness.. In this state, your mind is like a vacuum. You then open your eyes to the statue of Lakshmi in front of you. Subconsciously, your mind starts "sucking" in Lakshmi's attributes and qualities and you slowly start to awaken the archetype of Lakshmi within you. This is a simple but powerful technique that yogis have been doing over the years.
Jyothi Chalam is a scholar of Vedanta, the philosophy of self realization. Jyothi teaches workshops on the Upanishads at ashrams, yoga studios and yoga conferences. Jyothi is also an accomplished musician of the South Indian Classical tradition. Her music is the culmination of both her philosophical meditations and deep spiritual devotion.
Manoj Chalam uses humor and personal anecdotes in his workshops to illuminate Hindu mythology. An Indian-born scientist with a PhD from Cornell University, Manoj helps individuals find their archetypes in Hindu Yogic deities and teaches the 4 ways to work with their archetype. He has also compiled a book on the symbolisms of Hindu and Buddhist deities.