Everybody wants to be happy. We cannot be happy if we are starving or have no shelter or if we are facing any scarcity. Naturally, for happiness, we turn to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth. When she comes into our lives, there is food and clothing and shelter. We can survive and hope to thrive. More Lakshmi means abundance: there is money in the bank, investments, property, the future is financially secure. More Lakshmi means health and time to do things that we love doing. There is prosperity with pleasure.
The wise say that if you want Lakshmi to come into your life, you must never chase her. She must chase you. Otherwise she will come into your life with her twin-sister, Alakshmi, goddess of quarrels. A house filled with wealth as well as strife is a house inhabited by both Lakshmi and Alakshmi.
To make oneself worthy of Lakshmi, to ensure that she comes without Alakshmi in tow, one has to chase Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, who is dressed in white and bears books in her hands. Lakshmi is a whimsical goddess, who may move in your direction at one point, even without effort, and then move away from you at another. But Saraswati is a dependable goddess, very difficult to acquire, but once she comes by our side, she stays with us.
The more Saraswati we have, the more we know what people want, how to get things done, how to solve problems, how to take the right decisions. Saraswati enlightens us, helps us make sense of the world. Saraswati makes us sensitive to all things around us. One who has Saraswati in their lives knows how much they don’t know; hence they are humble and generous. There is no anxiety about the movement of Lakshmi. And there is no fear of Alakshmi.
They say that Lakshmi and Saraswati rarely stay in the same house. When one has too much Saraswati, one holds Lakshmi in disdain. If one has too much Lakshmi, one holds Saraswati in disdain. But Lakshmi without Saraswati, invites Alakshmi. And that is not a good thing. And Saraswati without Lakshmi invites Daridra, the goddess of poverty, which is also not a good thing.
But neither financial security nor knowledge guarantees emotional security. One can have all the money in the world but it does not guarantee a successful, fruitful relationship.
One can possess all the knowledge of the world, but if relations are strained with parents and children and siblings, one cannot be happy. And so we seek Shakti, the goddess of power. When we say we want fruitful relationships, we are actually saying we seek relationships that empower us, make us feel secure and safe and significant, as one does when one carries weapons. We want to feel invulnerable like a citadel or “durg” from where comes the name Durga. Durga is sanctuary, emotional sanctuary, and a place where we feel secure and wanted. As Durga, Shakti rides the tiger, fearless and holds weapons in her hands, protecting us, unafraid to go into battle for us. We want her in our life.
And to get Durga into our life, we have to give Durga. To feel secure and included, we have to give others feelings of security and inclusion. This will never happen if we do not have sensitivity, if we differentiate between “mine” and “not mine.” To break the divide between “mine” and “not mine” we need Saraswati once more.
Thus happiness requires all three goddesses: L (Lakshmi), Saraswati (S) and Durga (D). This is spiritual LSD that every human being craves.
Devdutt Pattanaik is an author, speaker, illustrator and mythologist. He is a medical doctor by education, a leadership consultant by profession, and essentially a mythologist by passion. Devdutt has written and lectured extensively on the nature of sacred stories, symbols and rituals and their relevance in modern times. His books include: Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata; 7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art; Myth=Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology; and Book of Ram. www.devdutt.com