|16 Mahalakshmi: her exit from Swarga and restoration, and Puja Vidhana|
(‘Shodashopacharas’ and ‘Stuti’ by Indra included)
Parabrahma Paramatma divided himself into two Bhagavans viz. Shri Krishna and Vishnu at the beginning of ‘Srishti’. Paramatma also divided into two Devis; from his right side was manifested Devi Radha and from the left Maha Lakshmi. Krishna and Radha resided in ‘Goloka’ while Vishnu and Lakshmi resided in Vaikuntha. Both Krishna and Vishnu as well as their Consorts were equal in their ‘Amshas’ traits in terms of Form, Profile, complextion, radiance, fame, dresses, adornments, Gunas, comprehension, voice, gait, morale and psychology, excepting Krishna was with two hands and Narayana with two hands. ‘Maha Lahshmi’ is called like wise as she is the supreme leader of womanhood representing idealism, virtue, grace, kindness, and all that is propitious and auspicious. She is called ‘Swarga Lakshmi’ as she is the Archetype of Wealth, Prosperity, and Magnificence. She is ‘Rajya Lakshmi’ standing for the Excellence of Royalty and Opulence; ‘Griha Lakshmi’ worshipped in each and every household and the symbol of patience, service, generosity, fertility, devotion and practical wisdom of all ‘Grihinis’. In fact, she is not confined to only Ashta Lakshmis viz. Adi Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Dhairya Lakshmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Santana Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi, Vidya Lakshmi and Dhana Lakshmi, but characterizes several good aspects like Arogya Lakshmi, Shri Lakshmi, Shobha Lakshmi, Shubha Lakshmi, Rama, Indira, Chakrika, Kamalika, Kalyani, Vaishnavi, Narayani, Shri Devi, Jalaja, Madhavi, Aishwearya, Padma Priya, Padmakshi, Ulka Vahini and so on. She is present in all materials of significance like Bhushanas, Precious metals and Nava Ratnas, flowers, fruits, water, Kings and Queens, Homes, Palaces, Dhanyas, Vastras, Sacred Places, Deva Pratimas, Mangala Kalashas, Manikyas, Chandana and other fragrances, Dhanya, Vidya-Arogya and Puja related items etc. At the very first, Bhagavan Vishnu performed worship to Maha Lakshmi at Vaikuntha, followed by Brahma, Parama Shiva, Swayambhu Manu, Indra and Devas, Gandharvas, Nagas and Rishis and Munis. Brahma worshipped on Bhadrapada Shuka Ashtami. Vishnu initiated Pujas on Chaitra, Pousha, and Bhadrapada Tuesdays and Fridays.
Durvasa Muni was on way to Kailasha from Vaikuntha en route Swarga; on way he met Indra, blessed him and did the rare honour of gifting a Parijata flower garland which Vishnu presented to the Muni. Out of arrogance, Indra placed the garland around the neck of ‘Iraavata’-the Elephant Carrier of Indra! The infuriated Muni felt that this sacrilegious and irrevernt act of Indra was not only indicative of disrespect for himself but also an act of unpardonable profanity to Bhagavan Vishnu! He therefore cursed Indra saying that an invaluable gift rewarded to Durvasa by Narayana was parted with and out of consideration to Indra who ignored its inherent worth. Hence, the root cause of Lakshmi, who was the Form of Prosperity, should abandon Swarga forth with. He further said that as a Bhakta of Narayana, he had the least fear for Brahma or Shiva; in fact the head of the elephant which wore the Parajata garland should by sliced off and eventualy replace Ganesha’s head! With this furious curse of Durvasa, Indra came to senses and realised his unpardonable folly and said: Aishwaryam vipadaam beejam jnaana pracchanya kaaranam, Muktimargargalam daadhyam Hari bhakti vyavasaayikam/ Janma mrityu jaraa roga shoka bheetaamkuram Param, Sampatthi timiraandham cha Mukti maarga na pashyati/ (Aishwaryam or Great Prosperity is the seed from which difficulties arise, suppressing Gyan or Wisdom and the barrier of Mukti Marga creating obstacles all through the way of Hari- Bhakti. Opulence happens to be the seedling to Janma /Birth, Mrityu/ Death, Jara / Old Age, Shoka / grief and Anurag / Desire. It is due to wealth that obstacles and blindness to ‘Mukti Marga’are caused). By so saying, Indra fell on Sage Durvasa’s feet with subdued ego and repentance. Muni Durvasa pardoned Indra and advised Deva Guru to be inolved to perform worship to Shri Krishna. Brihaspati gave him encouragement and said that virtuous and brave persons should not get disheartened on occasions like this; ‘Sampatti’ or fortune and ‘Vipatti’ or complex trouble would occur due to the Karma phala of previous births. Deva Guru further said: Maha vipattow samsaarey yah smaren Madhusudanam, Vipattow tasya Sampattir bhaveydvidityaaha Shankarah/ (A person who remembers the name of Madhusudana at the time of hardship would definitely find a way out from Vipatti to Sampatti according to Shankara). Later on Deva Guru and Indra approached Brahma Deva who in turn took Indra and Devas to Vaikuntha. Bhagavan Vishnu stated that just as the whole Universe was undre his control, he himself was bound by what his Bhaktaas dictated to him! Indeed, those who ignored Vishnu, my devotee Lakshmi too would leave that Place at once! After all, Maha Muni Durvasa of Shankara Deva’s Amsha was Vishnu’s parama Bhakta and his anger was indeed justified! As his shraddhaa in Govinda was unbreakable, the Muni cursed Indra for his unpardonable blunder. Indeed Lakshmi would instantly leave-and so would Vishnu- that house where there was no sound of ‘Shankha’ (Conchshell), nor where a Tulasi shrub was worshipped; nor where Shankara Puja was executed, and where Brahmanas were not invited to take food. Bhagavan Vishnu further said that Devi Lakshmi would not stay in such residences where Vishnu Bhaktas were critisised, where food was served on Ekadashis and Janmashtamis; where unmarried girls of Devi’s names were sold or purchased; where guests were not entertained for food or stay; where persons eat food before Sunrise; where persons sleep during the days or those who sleep naked; those Brahmanas who never performed Vratas, fastings, Sandhya vandanas and Vishnu pujas; and where there was ‘Jeeva himsa’ or Cruelty of human or other beings of any description. Contrarily, Lakshmi would stay permanently in those houses where there are discussions, Bhagavat Kirtanas, singings of hymns, Shankha dhwanis, pujas of Shalagramas and Tulasi, Pujas of Devas and Devis, Devatarchanas and Naivedyas, renderings of Mantras and veneration of Deva Bhaktas, Godmen, Brahmanas and Sumangalis. Having explained on these lines, Vishnu advised Devi Lakshmi to stay in Ksheera Samudra till Devas and Danavas did ‘Amrita Manthana’or churning of the Ocean. Soon thereafter, the Sagara Manthana commenced with Mandara Mountain as ‘kaashtha’ or the Churning rod; Kurmavatara / the incarnation of Bhagavan Vishnu as Tortoise to balance the Mountain, Sesha Naaga as the rope with which to rotate the ‘kaashtha’, and Devas and Danavas as the Churning Parties. As result of the ‘Manthana’, first emerged ‘Halahala’( the massive poisonous flames) which was devoured by Maha Deva and kept in his throat and then surfaced elephant Iravata, Ucchhaishvara horse, Sudarshana Chakra, Koustubha Mani, Chandra and Devi Lakshmi whereafter emerged Dhanvantari and Amrit. Devi Lakshmi adorned Vishnu with Vanamali when Vishnu worshipped her, followed by Maha Deva, Brahma, Indra and Devatas when Durvasa’s curse to Indra was cleared and Lakshmi’s ‘Amsha’ reappeared as Swarga Lakshmi.
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