Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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pp. vii-ix

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

I wish to express heartfelt gratitude to Sri Swami Chidvilasananda Gurumayi, for it was she who first suggested that my increasingly unresolved questions about the enigmatic goddess Lakṣmī might be turned into a book. The challenge to unfold even a small portion of the goddess’s mystery ...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-12

It was autumn in Delhi, that majestic time of year when the sky sparkles a bright blue and evenings resonate with a gentle coolness. A season of delightful reprieve from the summer’s heat, autumn is a time to celebrate life’s bounty. As its refreshment mediates against all kinds of torpor, many experience ...

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PART ONE: The Divine Personalities of Lakṣmī

The goddess of wealth expresses herself in infinite forms. Here we explore the development of the goddess’s divine personalities as reflected in the songs offered by her worshipers, for the manner in which she is approached in song tells us much about how she avails herself for perception ...

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CHAPTER 1: The Awesome Power of Auspiciousness: Lakṣmī of the Vedic Traditions

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pp. 15-22

In the spiritual imagination of her earliest worshipers, the goddess of prosperity revealed herself through the abundant riches that sweeten the experience of life. She existed in the exuberant life-force of plants and animals and in the prosperous well-being of individuals, families, and communities. ...

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CHAPTER 2: Living the Good Life: Lakṣmī of the Purāņic Traditions

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pp. 23-46

When we move from the Vedic hymns into the literature of the Purāņas, we discover a world that has exploded into myriad expressions of form. The Purāņas are a group of texts composed from approximately 200 BCE to 1000 CE, a period that also produced the two great epics of India, the Rāmāyaņa and ...

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CHAPTER 3: Living the Powerful Life: Lakṣmī of the Tantric Traditions

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pp. 47-60

We have reserved the most complex, multilayered, and in many ways most fascinating selections for our final section of songs invoking Lakṣmī. Here, we see a culmination of the personality of the goddess and, at the same time, a culmination in the how the worshiper may access her presence. We shall see that the goddess ...

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PART TWO: The Power of Poetry to Summon the Goddess

Sound is a form of the goddess’s powerful essence. The mantras that constitute the songs to the goddess carry her sacred energy, for their syllables are understood to constitute her sonic body. In this section we explore how the various genres of sacred songs operate as vehicles for calling forth her presence. ...

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CHAPTER 4: The Power of Vedic Hymns: Generating Auspiciousness

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pp. 63-66

We open our collection with the two earliest known songs to Lakṣmī, the Hymn to Śrī (Śrī Sūktam) and the Hymn to Lakṣmī (Lakṣmī Sūktam). Their recitation continues to be an important part of Hindu worship to this day. Literally meaning “well said” (su = well; ukta = said), or “eloquently stated,” a sūkta is a verse ...

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CHAPTER 5: The Power of Purāņic Songs: Drawing Down the Goddess

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pp. 67-70

To a great extent, the fortune in one’s life is believed to be dictated by karma, which serves to explain why Lakṣmī's blessings may seem to be more readily apparent with some than with others. However, the Purāņic narratives indicate that individuals may exert a certain influence over their fortunes and misfortunes, ...

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CHAPTER 6: The Power of Tantric Songs: Waking Up the Goddess

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pp. 71-90

According to the Tantric traditions, the way to achieve true prosperity is by focusing not so much on its forms as on its essence, going behind the specific expressions to the source from which they spring. In this way, the worshiper participates with the goddess in the manifestation of prosperity. Because their verses ...

PART THREE: Ceremony

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INTRODUCTION: Invoking Lakṣmī in Ceremony: Lakṣmī Pūjā

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pp. 93-98

The ritual of pūjā, generally translated as “ceremonial worship,” consists of specified actions for invoking and honoring the gods. It is performed in order to invite the deity into our space and to experience—on some level—her palpable presence. Sacred songs operate on the mantric level of sound; ...

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Lakṣmī Pūjā Text

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pp. 99-118

In the opening mantras, the Vedic gods are invoked for overall well-being (svasti) and for the success of the ceremony. These are the ancient deities who are extolled in the earliest written scriptures of the Brahmanic tradition as presiding over the forces of nature. There is very little mention of them ...

PART FOUR: Song

Vedic Hymns to Lakṣmī

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pp. 121-126

Purāņic Songs to Lakṣmī

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pp. 127-148

Tantric Songs to Lakṣmī

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pp. 149-202

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EPILOGUE: The Goddess Returns Home

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pp. 203-206

Invoking Lakshmi begins with the circumstances of a ceremony inviting the goddess to visit our human realm. Throughout this book we have considered how she is invoked and how she makes herself manifest. We have seen a fluidity in her manifestations: She fills the form that we provide for her through ...

Transliterated Sanskrit Texts

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pp. 207-248

Notes

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pp. 249-264

Bibliography

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pp. 265-274

Index

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pp. 275-279