Fickle and Independent Pt. 4
Nowadays, Hindus accept Lakshmi as the eternal consort of Vishnu, the preserver of the world. In her long history, however, the Goddess has been associated with many other deities.
According to Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas, the Goddess Lakshmi first lived with the demons before the Gods acquired her. She graced Asuras such as Hiranayaksha, Hiranakashipu, Prahalad, Virochana and Bali, rakshasas such as Ravana and yakshas such as Kubera before
she adorned the court of Indra, King of Devas, the most renowned of Vedic Gods.
Cities of the asuras (Hiranyapura), yakshas (Alakapuri), rakshasas (Lanka) and nagas (Bhogavati) have all been described as cities of gold, Lakshmi’s mineral manifestation.
Within the Vedic pantheon, Lakshmi was linked with many Gods, especially those associated with water bodies: Indra, the Rain-God (bestower of fresh water); Varuna, the Sea-God (source of all water);
Soma, the Moon-God (waxer and waner of tides).
Indra’s wife Sachi was also known as Puloma, which is the name of an Asura-Woman suggesting entry of Lakshmi from the world of asuras into world of devas.
As the Vedic Gods waned into insignificance around the fifth century BC, two Gods came to
dominate the classical Hindu worldview: The world renouncing Hermit-God Shiva and the world affirming
Lakshmi was briefly associated with Shiva before she became the faithful consort of Vishnu-Narayana, the ultimate refuge of man.
With Vishnu, she was domesticated.
No longer fleet footed, she sat demurely by his side, on his lap or at his feet.
The association with many Gods has led to Lakshmi being viewed as fickle, restless and independent. Sociologists view the mythology of Lakshmi’s fickleness as indicative of her cult’s resistance to being assimilated with mainstream Hinduism. Even today there is tension between the mythology of Lakshmi as an independent Goddess and her mythology as Vishnu’s consort.
Philosophers choose to view the fickleness and independence of Lakshmi as an allegory for the restlessness of fortune. More often than not, there are no rational explanations for fortune and misfortune. Good times come without warning and leave as suddenly.