12. Lakshmi Devi

In Hinduism both the gods and the demons were mortal at one time. The divine nectar that would grant immortality, could be obtained only by churning the Ksheera sagaram.

The devas and asuras both sought immortality and decided to churn the Ksheera sagaram. With the devas on one side and the asuras on the other, the churning commenced.

On Kurma, the tortoise, was placed a mountain as a churning pole; Vasuki a great venomous serpent, was wrapped around it and used to churn the ocean.

A host of divine celestial objects came up during the churning. Among these, was the goddess Lakshmi, the daughter of the king of the milky ocean.

The last to come up was the Amrita. With this, the avatar of Kurma, the tortoise, ended. Vishnu then took up the form of a beautiful maiden to distract the asuras and gave immortality to the devas.

Mahalakshmi has always existed. Her appearance from the milk ocean is her main manifestation.

Mahalakshmi was also born to the great sage Bhrigu and she is therefore also called Bhargavi.

Mahalakshmi is also the sister of the great guru Sukracharya and the moon. The moon also appeared from the ocean during the churning, making it her brother.

Lakshmi has many names. She is known to be very closely associated with the lotus, and her many epithets are connected to the flower, such as:

Kamala: lotus dweller
Padmapriya: One who likes lotuses
Padmamaladhara devi: One who wears a garland of lotuses
Padmamukhi: One whose face is as beautiful as a lotus
Padmakshi: One whose eyes are as beautiful as a lotus
Padmahasta: One who holds a lotus
Padmasundari: One who is as beautiful as a lotus

Her other names include: Manushri, Chakrika, Kamalika, Lalima, Kalyani, Nandika, Rujula, Vaishnavi, Narayani, Bhargavi, Sridevi, Chanchala, Bhumi Devi, Jalaja, Madhavi, Sujata, Shreya and Aiswarya. She is also referred to as Jaganmaatha (“Mother of the Universe”) in Shri Mahalakshmi Ashtakam. Rama and Indira are popular.

Each time Vishnu descends on earth as an avatar, He is accompanied by an avatar of Lakshmi.

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