Lakshmi became a favourite of Kings as more and more people believed she was the bestower of power, wealth and sovereignty.
Goddess Lakshmi Pt. 3
Stories of Lakshmi first appeared in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharta, that were composed between 300 BC and 300 AD, a period that witnessed the waning popularity of Vedic Gods and the rise of Gods who offered Moksha such as Shiva and Vishnu.
Gods and demons fought over her and both strove to churn her out of the ocean of milk. As folk heroes such as Rama and Krishna were viewed as incarnations of Vishnu, their consorts Sita, Radha and Rukmini became increasingly identified with Lakshmi.
In the Harivamsa, appendix to the Mahabharata, Manmatha, the God of love, lust and fertility, was described as her son. The mythology of Lakshmi acquired full form in the Puranas, chronicles of Gods, Kings and Sages that were compiled between 500 and 1500 AD.
In them, the Goddess Lakshmi came to be projected as one of the three primary forms of the, Supreme Mother-Goddess, the other two being Saraswati, The Goddess of knowledge, and Kali or Durga, The Goddess of power.
Lakshmi was visualised both as an independent Goddess and as Vishnu’s consort, seated on his lap or at his feet. Prithvi, The Vedic Earth-Goddess, became Bhoodevi in the Puranas and a manifestation of Lakshmi.
In south India, the two Goddesses were visualised as two different entities, standing on either side of Vishnu, Bhoodevi representing tangible wealth while Lakshmi or Shridevi representing intangible wealth. In north India, the two Goddesses became one.
Images of Lakshmi started appearing around the third century BC in sculptures found in Kausambi, in north India, and on coins issued during the reign of the Gupta dynasty around the fourth century AD.
Lakshmi became a favourite of Kings as more and more people believed she was the bestower of power, wealth and sovereignty. Separate shrines to Lakshmi within the precincts of Vishnu temples may have been built as early as the seventh century; Such shrines were definitely in existence by the 10th century AD.