I continue today with my second post for Navaratri, my theme being thankfulness towards the Goddesses and their roles in our lives. My post today is dedicated to Mahalakshmi, She who is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Her name is also Shri, meaning auspiciousness and good fortune. She is represented with gold streaming from her hands, so naturally most people associate her with money. But wealth is far more than money and property, isn’t it? An individual’s wealth is his or her unsullied honour. The wealth of parents are their children. The wealth of a family is its strong bonds of love. A country’s wealth is its land, its rivers, its mineral deposits, its clean air, its honourable and hard working citizens. Humanity’s wealth is its collective knowledge, its culture and peace.
I have listed what I think to be some of the greatest wealth enjoyed by us all; you may wish to add more. In my last post I proposed that Shakti is not just the provider of power & energy, but is power itself. So also I say that Mahalakshmi is that aspect of divinity which provides us with wealth in all its forms and She is also the wealth which is provided. Given Her portfolio, it is no surprise that She enjoys great popularity in the prayers of millions! Unlike Shakti who is represented in both benign and terrifying forms, Mahalakshmi is always benign. For is not her absence terrifying enough?
In my last post, I associated our Goddesses with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If Shakti provides us with physiological and some part of our safety needs, Mahalakshmi looks after the next few tiers from safety needs to the needs of belonging and esteem. I believe that our Goddesses work in tandem, holding us up together. Today I would like to express my gratitude to Mahalakshmi for being in my life in innumerable ways and for the blessings that She continues to shower upon me. I bow down to you, my Goddess.
To celebrate Her presence amongst us, I have chosen Annamacharya’s aarati song for Mahalakshmi, Ksheerabdhi Kanyakaku set to Raga Kurinji. The sounds of kurinji remind me of days long long ago, during the Navaratris of my childhood, when my mother would seat my sister and me on a manai (wooden pedestal) putting nalangu (auspicious red decorations) on my feet, anointing me with kumkum (red powder) and chandanam (sandalwood paste), putting flowers in my braids and doing aarati while singing seeta kalyana vaibhogame in kurinji. What she did was anoint us with all the auspicious symbols of Mahalakshmi, worshipping the Goddess through us. She was not alone in doing that. In India, many ladies worship the Goddess within their little girls during this time.
Every time I hear kurinji, my mother’s love for me warms me to the core of my heart. Why did I never do this for my children? How will they remember my love for them without the sounds of kurinji to give it context and meaning? Ah the ties of love and devotion and music, all mixed in one!!! My son, who recently started learning to play the Veena, told me today that he dreamt my (late) mother was happy to know he learns Carnatic Music. So maybe he too will play kurinji one day and remember my love for him, for this music, for my mother and for my Goddess. To know a bit more about this raga, click here.
In memory of my mother, I have chosen a rendition by the great M.S.Subbulakshmi, whose voice used to echo in my childhood home.
Language : Telugu
As I do not speak the language; below are the lyrics in devanagri script.
क्षीराब्धि कन्यकक्कु श्री महालक्ष्मिकिनि |
नीरजालयक्कुनु नीराजनम् ||
जलजाक्षी मोमुनकु जक्कव कुचम्बुलकु |
नेलकोन्न कप्पुरप्पु नीराजनम् ||
अळिवेणि तुरुमुनकु हस्तकमलम्बुलकु |
निलुवु माणिक्यमुल नीराजनम् ||
पगटु श्री वेङ्कटेशु पट्टपुराणियै |
नेगडु सतिकळलक्कुनु नीराजनम् ||
जगति अलमेलु मङ्ग त्सक्कदनमुलकेल्ल |
निगुडु निज शोभनप्पु नीराजनम् ||
kshIrAbdhi kanyakakku shrI mahAlakshmikini
jalajAkshi mOmunaku jakkava kuchambulaku
nelakonna kappurappu nIrAjanam
aLivENi turumunaku hasta kamalambulaku
niluvu mANikyamula nIrAjanam
pagaTu SrI vENkaTEshu paTTapu rANIyai
negaDu sati kaLalakkunu neerAjanam
jagati alamElu manga tsakkadanamulakella
negaDu nija shObhanapu neerAjanam
Note: Sourced from various internet sites, not authenticated
note: Neerajanam = waving a light in front of an idol as an aarati to honour the God or Goddess.
Neerajanam to the daughter of the milky ocean, Shri Mahalakshmi, whose abode is a lotus.
Neerajanam with camphor to the lady with eyes like lotus petals and firm breasts.
Neerajanam with gems to the lady with hair thick as a swarm of dragonflies and with lotus-like hands.
Neerajanam to the queen of the handsome Shri Venkatesha, She who is full of good qualities.