“Then I was quickly ready to depart for becoming a forest dweller even ahead of Him, as when lacking His association even residence in heaven is not to my liking.” (Sita Devi speaking to Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 33.27)
sā aham tasya agrataḥ tūrṇam prasthitā vana cāriṇī ||
na hi me tena hīnāyā vāsaḥ svarge api rocate |
From the Vedic tradition of spirituality, we get the concept of a goddess of fortune. There are many gods and goddesses. You could fill an entire book with pictures of them. As many desires as pop into the mind of a single individual, multiplying that by all of the individuals that have ever graced this earth – there are that many divine figures to fulfill those desires. Among all of them, the goddess of fortune holds a unique position. She has tremendous love for God, love that is difficult to describe.
If there is a goddess of learning, it is pretty obvious what you can get from her. If you’re having trouble in school, pray to her for help. You want to do well on your upcoming exam? You want that paper you’re submitting in class to be well received? You want to finish high in the rankings so that you’ll proceed further in good standing? Go to her.
You make requests to things that are living. You can’t ask a rock to move out of the way. You can’t tell a building to slouch down so that you can better see the horizon. So the goddess of learning is a person, and in the Vedic tradition her name is Sarasvati. There are gods and goddesses to fulfill other desires as well, and they are also individuals. They are like you and me, except they have special abilities.
When it comes to the goddess of fortune, the common name used to address her is Lakshmi. This name is synonymous with fortune. If you’re collecting funds for a spiritual purpose, such as building a temple or printing literature that glorifies the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the donations you receive are referred to as “lakshmi.”
She is also known as Shri, which means beauty or opulence. She is Padmini, as she has an affinity for lotus flowers. Though she grants fortune, what she is better known for is her relationship to God. She is essentially His wife, though dharma itself cannot completely explain their relationship. Just as a paper from the governing body gives sanction to the relationship in marriage, there is dharma, or duty, which establishes the principles of the sacred covenant of marriage.
This dharma is very important, for without it man is no different than the animal. Yet Lakshmi’s relationship to God goes far beyond duty. She has pure love for Him. This means that she puts His interests ahead of her own. When she plays the role of the goddess of fortune, the gifts she gives are meant to be used for pleasing her husband, who is known as Narayana.
Narayana is also Rama, the seemingly human bodied son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Lakshmi is also Sita, the princess coming from Videha. Sita certainly played the role of goddess of fortune during her time on earth. Her husband had so much wealth, being a king’s son and all. Sita loved to give gifts to the priestly class, which in those times didn’t work to earn a living. They lived off whatever people gave to them.
In the above referenced verse from the Ramayana, we get an example of how Sita’s relationship to Rama transcends anything stipulated by dharma. If she were to follow religious duty, she would have stayed home when Rama asked her to. He had to leave Ayodhya for fourteen years, and He asked that she remain there with His mother.
Sita not only refused, but she was ready to go ahead of Rama. She disobeyed her husband. She was not worried about the consequences. She was not worried about fortune, happiness, fine dining, or comfortable living quarters. She would not get anything materially nice in the forest, where Rama was to live for fourteen years. She still insisted on going, and this was one argument Rama did not win.
From this episode we see that one way to describe the goddess of fortune is “the person who loves God so much that she is not compelled to listen to what He says.” This is a highly advanced stage to reach, but it reveals the Lord’s true nature. The ignorant deny His existence completely, being bewildered by the material nature. The spiritually inclined believe in Him, and either ask Him for things or respect Him from afar, fearing His wrath.
The devotees are the closest to Him, and they are anything but afraid of Him. The only fear they have is of a life devoid of His association. In a world where it is difficult to notice His presence, which is in fact everywhere, these wise souls keep Him close by through always chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
For material desire to seek,
A demigod for every one each.
Shri the fortune’s goddess name,
Lakshmi and Padmini person the same.
But for devotion really she’s known,
Gifts meant for Narayana’s pleasure alone.
Disobeying Rama when ready to leave,
Lord’s true nature from this perceive.
Categories: sita and hanuman