Varalakshmi Vratam – Invoking 8 Fold Wealth for the Family

Varalakshmi Vratam Puja is celebrated on the last Friday of Shukla Paksha (Waxing Moon period) during the Shravan month just before the Purnima.

By Sri Hari Vittal, Learner at Rashtram

The Basis: The Notability of Understanding Oneself in Indian Thought

Om Sri Gurubhyo Namah

Om Mahalakshmai Namah 

Goddess Lakshmi is portrayed as sitting on a lotus with four hands. 2 hands holding one of the most sacred symbols in Hinduism, the lotus. With one hand she blesses the devotees and with the other, we could see gold coins flowing from her hand. This famous representation of Ma Lakshmi has created an image in the devotees that she is the giver of material wealth. This is apt as Ma Lakshmi is the consort of Sri Vishnu Bhagavan who ensures the sustenance of the creation. It is hence logical to say that to sustain life, we need wealth – Artha. What needs to be paid attention to is the over-importance given to material wealth. Wealth is not just about material possession but has 8 aspects. Each aspect is conceived to be a form of Mahalakshmi – Ashta Lakshmi.

Adi Lakshmi – This form of Lakshmi bestows the Sadhak (Seeker) with Spiritual Wealth to further their Sadhana (Worship/Seeking) to reach the Ultimate experience of Bliss. Adi means first or primeval, giving great significance to Sadhana.

Dhana Lakshmi – She bestows the seeker with material wealth to fulfill one’s basic needs to sustain oneself.

Dhanya Lakshmi – She bestows agricultural wealth such as paddy, fruits, vegetables, and so on. This also signifies the worldly pleasures the Sadhak will be blessed with to experience and relish.

Gaja Lakshmi – She grants the Sadhak power and strength to protect and preserve Dharma. She symbolizes the strength women provide to the family by nurturing the entire family with her warmth and unrelenting love.

Santana Lakshmi – She grants the Sadhak with the blessing of an off-spring. She is depicted with weapons signifying the readiness of the mother to protect their child from any danger.

Veerya Lakshmi – She grants courage to the Sadhak to face challenges and overcome hurdles while striving in the world. She symbolizes the undeniable fact of women exuding courage to everyone in the family and standing by them to face life’s challenges.

Vijaya Lakshmi – She grants success to Sadhak in their fields of activity and life in general. She symbolizes all the women who back their husbands selflessly in their endeavors and provide a helping hand to them to realize their goals. 

Vidya Lakshmi – She grants the Sadhak with Knowledge and resembles Ma Saraswati. She symbolizes the importance of our mother as our first teacher in our lives.

These 8 aspects are the 8 manifestations of Goddess Lakshmi – Goddess of Wealth. This gives us a picture of how the Indian thought had a holistic vision towards wealth. It is our common experience today that we have fallen to the level of assigning everything that is of value to currency and so making all interactions and relationships transactional. This eliminates the beauty in human interactions. Beauty is in the spirit with which one approaches and interacts with other people.

The spirit of giving, loving, caring, and sacrificing has to be the driving force behind human interactions and relationships. This has been beautifully depicted through a Puranic story. There lived a woman by the name Charumathi. She was pious and a devoted woman. She depicted all the 8 aspects of wealth we saw earlier.

She was a source of strength and courage to the family, she enabled the spiritual progress of everyone in the family, ensured the prosperity of the family, took equal part in the enjoyment of worldly pleasures, bore the descendants of the family, protected their child, she was the first teacher for her child and played a vital role in the overall well-being and happiness of the family. 

She is an inspiration for all women, being the binding force of the family by living these 8 integral aspects of Wealth as per Hinduism. 

Looking at her devotion and dedication to her family, Ma Lakshmi was very impressed by her. The Goddess found her to be an embodiment of all the aspects of herself and hence descended to meet her. She came in the form of Vara Mahalakshmi in Charumathi’s dream. Vara means wish/boon. She was the manifestation of Lakshmi, who bestowed the Seeker with what they wished for.

Goddess Vara Lakshmi told Charumathi to invoke her through a Vrata (ritual) and ask for anything she wished. The Goddess informed Charumathi of the right time to perform the Puja and the way to perform the ritual. Ma Varalakshmi said that those who perform this Vrata and invoke her would invite the goddess to stay in their house and bestow the family with all the 8 aspects of wealth. 

She narrated her dream to her husband and the other women in her community. All the women in the community wished to take part in it to invoke the goddess to their households for the well-being of their families. All the women observed fast until completing the Vrata and participated in it with a pure heart praying for their families.

This was how the Varalakshmi Vrata Puja was passed on to us. This is especially unique as the goddess herself has given this ritual to us unlike usual, where the rituals are conceived by the rishis. This itself reinforces the importance of such a festival. 

Varalakshmi Vratam Puja is celebrated on the last Friday of Shukla Paksha (Waxing Moon period) during the Shravan month just before the Purnima. The optimal time to perform the Puja was in the evening. This festival is celebrated widely in the southern states of India such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra while it is not so popular in the Northern states.

Married women perform this Puja invoking the grace of the goddess to bestow the 8 fold wealth to their families and young women who are yet to be married pray for a desirable husband and family to get married into.

In a modern-day world, the qualities of man such as strength, ambition, and aggressiveness are given undue importance. Women are expected to care for all but at the same time be seen as a weakness, hindrance to progress. The Bharatiya Culture always valued tenderness, care, love, unselfishness, and forgiveness. These values were the core of women in Bharat and this invoked a deep reverence and acknowledgment of the significance of women in the family by the men.

Swami Vivekananda said, ‘Still, on this sacred soil of India, this land of Sita and Savithri, among women may be found such character, such spirit of service, such affection, such compassion, contentment, and reverence, as I could not find anywhere else in the world. To the true Indian, the woman is a mother first and mother last.’

These qualities must be brought back to consciousness in a present-day society where there is a healthy mix of nurturing qualities of the feminine and ambitious qualities of the masculine. This synthesis has the power to resolve conflicts not just at the family level but also at the society level. To achieve this, a great means would be by glorifying the Varalakshmi Puja and promoting it nationwide, and even expanding it globally. 

An ideal society is one where men also have a lot of feminine qualities, and where women are partners both in the secular and sacred lives of their men. Manu, the great lawmaker, declared:

“yatra naaryas tu pujyante ramante tatra devataah”

“‘Where women are worshiped, there God lives,’ says Manu.

Wishing all the Women a Happy Varalakshmi Puja. May the Divine Goddess bless us with the knowledge and willingness to perform the Vrata. May all the men also take part in this Vrata by supporting the women in performing the Vrata.

Om Sri Gurubhyo Namah

Om Mahalakshmai Namah

References

1. https://www.rudraksha-ratna.com/articles/varalakshmi-vratam
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ow85QPNSfP4
3. https://www.oneindia.com/india/varalakshmi-vratham-2020-date-significance-puja-vidhi-all-you-need-to-know-about-varalaxmi-vrat/articlecontent-pf36494-3126676.html
4. https://www.amritapuri.org/49560/03-swniranjanananda.aum
5. https://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/more/resources/gender-and-culture-in-india/

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