Gaja Lakshmi is one of the most powerful forms of the Ashta Lakshmi. She is the goddess of strength, power and valour. As the name suggests, this form of Goddess Lakshmi is surrounded with two elephants on her either side. Legends say that it was with the blessings of Gaja Lakshmi that Lord Indra was able to regain his wealth from the deep ocean. She is known for bestowing her devotees with abundance, wealth, grace and prosperity. Hinduism believes that each incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi is associated to various forms of wealth. Hence, she is also considered the goddess of animal wealth.
Symbolical representation of Gaja Lakshmi
Gaja Lakshmi is seated on a lotus in a padmasana posture of yoga. She is draped in a red coloured Sari. She has four arms with no weapons. The two upper hands carries lotus and the lower two hands are in the Abhaya and Varada mudra. Gaja Lakshmi blesses her devotees with the Varada Mudra. With Abhaya mudra, the goddess dispels the fear of loss of cattle and hence livelihood of her devotees. She is worshiped by two white elephants on her each side. The two elephants are depicted pouring water on the goddess with their trunk. This act of pouring water is also called “Jala- Abhishek” in Sanskrit language. Mythology believes that these two elephant represent those elephants responsible for proper balancing of the cosmic sky. These elephants are also popular by the name of Dig- gajas. The elephants symbolizes peace, graceful presence and indomitable strength. They are not seen harbouring ill feelings with other animals in the jungle and their huge size keep enemies away.
According to mythological interpretations, Goddess Lakshmi along with an elephant named Gajendra used to offer prayers to Lord Vishnu. Despite of starting the pooja together, Gajendra always used to lag behind in completing the ritual because of his large stature. This fact that Lakshmi always won in dedicating the flowers to Vishnu depressed Gajendra. When Vishnu came to know about Gajendra’s situation, he asked Lakshmi to join him. Thus, Gajendra was now able to perform pooja and offer his prayers to both Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi. Hence, Lakshmi took the form of Gaja Lakshmi and received the offerings from Gajendra.
Religious manifestation of the Goddess Gaja Lakshmi
Though Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped in different forms, but the religious manifestation of Gaja Lakshmi is celebrated with pomp and grandeur in the eastern part of India. Kendrapara and Dhenkanal in Orissa worship Goddess Gajalakshmi with unmatched enthusiasm. It is surprising to note that the history of celebration of Gaj Lakshmi pooja traces itself to back to 1923. Earlier the name of the place was Kunjasahu Chowk, which is today’s time popular as Ganesha Bazar. The pooja is organized on a very large scale. The district administration organizes the popular fair, also known by the name of Paleeshree Mela. The town is electrically illuminated on the occasion. Different cultural programs are organized in the pooja mandap for the entertainment of the visitors.
Other forms of Ashtalakshmi
Dhairyalakshmi (Veera Lakshmi)