Lakṣmī is the abundance of material reality and exemplar of fecundity, generosity, pleasure, fortune, and beauty. Hindu, Jain, and even early Buddhist temples include images of her. She is always portrayed as a charming, golden-complexioned maiden covered in red silks and dripping with jewels. She is said to be surrounded by the scent of flowers, the sound of tinkling bells, and the humming of bees.
Because of her association with material wealth, her visage appears everywhere in Southeast Asia, from T-shirts to packages of consumer goods. One way to translate Lakṣmī’s name is as “sacred mark,” in the sense of her being divinity in form, the sign of good fortune (think “Lady Luck”) that becomes apparent when your spiritual practice is in proper alignment with the dharma. She carries two lotuses (purity) as well as displaying the gestures of fearlessness and generosity.
This illustration first appeared in Sally Kempton’s book, Awakening Shakti.