Mahalakshmi    – Venupayyanur

Mahalakshmi is the Goddess of Wealth, health and prosperity and is the consort of Lord Vishnu, the God of Preservation.  Lakshmi is depicted as a beautiful woman of golden complexion, with four hands, sitting or standing on a full-bloomed lotus and holding lotus buds and bestowing gold coins of prosperity to all her worshippers, symbolic of when the lotus of wisdom blossoms, the wealth of good and noble qualities appears and Lakshmi’s blessings will be present. Two elephants are often shown standing next to the goddess and spraying water. This denotes that ceaseless effort, in accordance with one’s dharma and governed by wisdom and purity, leads to both material and spiritual prosperity. Elephants also signify her royal power. Lotus is associated with many of the Hindu Gods and Goddess and in relation to Shri-Lakshmi this refers to purity and spiritual power. Rooted in the mud, but blossoming above the water, completely uncontaminated by the mud, the lotus represents spiritual perfection and authority which rises above worldly contamination.

The word ‘Lakshmi’ is derived from the Sanskrit word “Laksya”, meaning ‘aim’ or ‘goal’ and for most people in this world, their only aim is to amass wealth. But one can amass wealth by different means, as Lord Kubera, the God of wealth can bless you, as well as all other gods and demi-gods. Wealth can also be given by Rakshasa, Gandharva, kinnara, kimpurusha, etc. So what makes Lakshmi so different from others? Mother Lakshmi is the One who bestows 16 types of wealth:(1) Fame; (2) Knowledge; (3) Courage and Strength; (4) Victory; (5) Good Children; (6) Valor; (7) Gold, Gems and Other Valuables; (8) Grains in abundance; (9) Happiness; (10) Bliss; (11) Intelligence; (12) Beauty; (13) Higher Aim, High Thinking and Higher Meditation; (14) Morality and Ethics; (15) Good Health; (16) Long Life. Have you heard of Ashtalakshmi?

  • Adi Lakshmi : an ancient form of Lakshmi and incarnation of Lakshmi as daughter of sage Bhrigu
  • Dhana Lakshmi: for money and gold
  • Dhanya Lakshmi : Giver of agricultural wealth.
  • Gaja Lakshmi : Giver of animal wealth like cattle and
  • Santana Lakshmi : Bestower of offspring
  • Veera Lakshmi : Bestower of valour in battles and courage and strength for overcoming difficulties in life.
  • Vijaya Lakshmi : Giver of victory, not only in battles but also over conquering hurdles in order to beget success.
  • Vidya Lakshmi : the bestower of knowledge of arts and sciences

People who amass wealth through dubious means, corruption, etc is actually not blessed by Mata Lakshmi as they will not be bestowed with all the 16 wealth including peace of mind. So how can one get the blessings of Mahalakshmi?  As mentioned earlier, it is already shown in her iconography, lotus and Elephant. Be unattached; do not be influenced by your surroundings and keep on working hard, all will get the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi.

The Vahana of Lakshmi is an Owl called Uluka. Owl is looked upon as a bird of ill omen, a symbol of darkness, disgrace and misfortune. The bird is blind during day time and sleeps the whole day but very active at night and has vision too. It rarely trust human beings and seldom seen in the company of any other bird. This reflects that people are generally blinded by wealth. They forget the good aspect of riches such as proper use and charity and become even greedier and destroy themselves with their own wealth. Such people may also not get peaceful sleep during the night and may end up sick and restless. Those who pursue riches should be aware of these negative qualities and pray to Shri Mahalakshmi so that she would inculcate in them the qualities of trust, generosity and social responsibility and would make them popular among people. She would also help them come out of the darkness of ignorance, avarice and selfishness, which are generally associated with the pursuit of materialism.


Shri Ganesha, also called Ganapati or Vinayaka, is presented in the form of a human body with the head of an elephant. This blend of human and animal parts is a symbolic representation of a perfect human being, as conceived by Hindu sages. His head symbolizes wisdom, understanding, and a discriminating intellect that one must possess to attain perfection in life. By worshipping Ganesha, a Hindu seeks God’s blessings for achieving success in one’s endeavours in the physical world and for attaining perfection thereafter.  Vinayaka means supreme leader and Ganapati means leader of Ganas, who attends and follows Shiva all the time. No Hindu ritual or auspicious act is ever undertaken without invoking Him and it is believed that with the grace of the lord of Obstacles, everyone will be successful. Let us discuss the iconography associated with Ganesha.

  • Ganesha’s big head represents intellectual capacity and ability to think big. He is considered to be a man of perfect wisdom and has the intellectual depth and width to understand the world perfectly. This is exactly what we all should aspire for in life to be successful and excel in whatever endeavours we are in.
  • His big ears and small mouth reminds all of us that we should listen more and intensely and talk very less.
  • His small eyes show us that the path to success is by concentration on the task ahead.
  • Ganesha’s trunk represents highest efficiency and adaptability. Here is a tool that can uproot and carry a big tree trunk and at the same time pick up the smallest of grass blade from the ground. Human being is yet to design a tool of such versatility and adaptability. This teaches us that discrimination is essential to solve problems in life and our ability to see the gross problem and minor subtleties at the same time make us a better human being and a manager.
  • The discriminative power in us can function only when we are able to differentiate between the good and the bad, right and the wrong and throw away the bad and the wrong. His broken tusk represents this.
  • Ganesha has four hands. In one hand He holds an Axe, which is used to cut our attachments and desires that are the cause of all problems. With the rope that is held in his left hand he pulls us nearer to our goal whether temporal or spiritual. Modaka in his third hand represents rewards for all our efforts and also reminds you that hard work never goes unrewarded, hence continue to work hard even if you are not seeing the benefits instantly. His fourth hand blesses you and takes you towards success both here and there.
  • At the feet of the God is kept the prasadam, the endless eatables of life, also meaning, the glory and pleasures of life. One you have the blessings of the God, and has done what must be done to be successful; the whole world is at your feet for the asking.
  • Finally there is a mouse sitting at the feet of the God, looking up to the God, shivering with anticipation and awaiting permission, but not touching any of the eatables kept disturbingly close to it. Mouse represents desire, if not kept under complete control can destroy and annihilate us, like a mouse that can bring complete damage to a barn of grains overnight. This is what today’s younger generation is facing. Objects of pleasures are easily available but desires are not controlled and therefore do not look up to their parents or teachers for permission for indulgence. The result is complete annihilation and destruction of one’s personality. The mouse is also shown as Ganesha’s vehicle depicting that you have to take control of the vehicle to ride it. Means you have to take control over your desires and attachments to ride the long journey of life.

What can we learn, as professionals, from the Ganesha symbolism?

  • Elephant is considered to be one the most intelligent animals in this world. Use your intelligence to overcome obstacles and be successful. Use it to think big and to make dream objectives in your life.
  • Listening with empathy and rapt attention is an essential element of communication skills, a skill without which no success is possible in life. Ganesha’s big ears and small mouth reminds us to listen more and talk less.
  • Broken tusk reflects the good and the bad that happens in everyone’s life. Generally we only remember the bad and by constantly talking about it keep the memory alive and fresh all the time. We should learn to throw away the bad, forget the unpleasant experiences and look forward for a brighter future.
  • Ganesha’s trunk shows us to be flexible, adaptable and efficient to be successful in our professional life.
  • His four hands remind us to work harder as working with two hands are not good enough in these highly competitive times.
  • Sweet modak in one hand as well as near his legs shows us that rewards will come and will be at our disposal to enjoy once we fulfil our obligations diligently and with total commitment and devotion.
  • The mouse tells to keep our intense desire under control, the desire to achieve everything for nothing under check, the desire to enjoy the pleasures of life without doing our duties under control.

Ganesha has two wives. Buddhi (Intelligence) and Siddhi (Spiritual Power). As mentioned in one of my previous articles, the wife normally compliments the husband to make him successful. To overcome obstacles and to be successful, intelligence is essential. That is why Ganesha is considered to be the lord of Intelligence or the husband of Intelligence. Similarly for spiritual attainment one should have Siddhi, which is his second wife. It is also interesting to note that he has two sons, Shubh (auspiciousness) from Siddhi and Labha (profit) from Buddhi. That also means through spiritual power one attains moksha and through intellectual power one makes profit in life.

The message we should take from this is that one should not only be striving to achieve success in physical world but also in spiritual world. Belief in God and serving the society is equally important as working incessantly to attain glory and pleasures of life.

Lord Shiva represents the aspect of the Supreme Being that continuously dissolves to recreate in the cyclic process of creation, preservation, dissolution and recreation of the universe. Lord Shiva is the Lord of mercy and compassion. He protects devotees from evil forces such as lust, greed, and anger. He grants boons, bestows grace and awakens wisdom in His devotees. The symbolism discussed below includes major symbols that are common to all pictures and images of Shiva venerated by Hindus.

  • Matted locks: Lord Shiva is the Master of yoga. The three matted locks on the head of the Lord convey the idea that integration of the physical, mental and spiritual energies is the ideal of yoga. The flow of his matted hair also represents Shiva as the Lord of Wind or Vayu, who is the subtle form of breathe present in all living beings.
  • Ganga: Ganga is the most sacred river of Hindus. According to tradition, one who bathes in Ganga (revered as Mother Ganga) in accordance with traditional rites and ceremonies on religious occasions in combination with certain astrological events, is freed from sin and attains knowledge, purity and peace. Ganga, symbolically represented on the head of the Lord by a female (Mother Ganga) with a jet of water emanating from her mouth and falling on the ground, signifies that the Lord destroys sin, removes ignorance, and bestows knowledge, purity and peace on the devotees.
  • The crescent moon: is shown on the side of the Lord’s head as an ornament. The waxing and waning phenomenon of the moon symbolizes the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end. Since the Lord is the Eternal Reality, He is beyond time.
  • Three eyes: Lord Shiva, also called Tryambaka Deva (literally, “three-eyed Lord”), is depicted as having three eyes: the sun is His right eye, the moon the left eye and fire the third eye. The two eyes on the right and left indicate His activity in the physical world. The third eye in the center of the forehead symbolizes spiritual knowledge and power, and is thus called the eye of wisdom or knowledge. Like fire, the powerful gaze of Shiva’s third eye annihilates evil, and thus the evil-doers fear His third eye.
  • Kundalas (two ear rings): Since the kundala in the left ear of the Lord is of the type used by women and the one in His right ear is of the type used by men, these Kundalas also symbolize the Shiva and Shakti (male and female) principle of creation.
  • Snake around the neck: sages have used snakes to symbolize the yogic power of Lord Shiva. Snake also represents a thousand thoughts that pass through our minds all the time. A mind that is controlled can be worn as an ornament around the neck.
  • Rudraksha necklace: Rudra is another name of Shiva. Rudra also means “strict or uncompromising” and aksha means “eye.” Rudraksha necklace worn by the Lord illustrates that He uses His cosmic laws firmly – without compromise – to maintain law and order in the universe. To lead a peaceful and successful life, we all must follow all the rules, cosmic, social and professional and also help others to do the same.
  • Trident (Trisula): a three-pronged trident shown adjacent to the Lord symbolizes His three fundamental powers (shakti) of will (iccha), action (kriya) and knowledge (jnana). The trident also symbolizes the Lord’s power to destroy evil and ignorance. It also represents the three Gunas—Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
  • Damaru (drum): a small drum with two sides separated from each other by a thin neck-like structure symbolizes the two utterly dissimilar states of existence, unmanifest and manifest. When a damaru is vibrated, it produces dissimilar sounds which are fused together by resonance to create one sound. The sound thus produced symbolizes Nada, the cosmic sound of AUM, which can be heard during deep meditation. According to Hindu scriptures, Nada is the source of creation. Exactly similar to the conch, panchajanya of Vishnu.
  • Kamandalu: a water pot (Kamandalu) made from a dry pumpkin contains nectar and is shown on the ground next to Shiva. The process of making Kamandalu has deep spiritual significance. A ripe pumpkin is plucked from a plant, its fruit is removed and the shell is cleaned for containing the nectar. In the same way, an individual must break away from attachment to the physical world and clean his inner self of egoistic desires in order to experience the bliss of the Self, symbolized by the nectar in the Kamandalu.
  • Nandi: the bull is associated with Shiva and is said to be His vehicle. The bull symbolizes both power and ignorance. Lord Shiva’s use of the bull as a vehicle conveys the idea that He removes ignorance and bestows power of wisdom on His devotees. Have you seen villains in hindi movies, they are generally shown as physically strong persons with lack of intelligence or thinking power. They are the bulls, if under control will do whatever the master wants, or else it can destroy you also.
  • Tiger skin: He is often shown seated upon a tiger skin, an honour reserved for the most accomplished of Hindu ascetics, the Brahmarishis. Tiger represents lust. His sitting on the tiger’s skin indicates that He has conquered lust.
  •  Generally in the corporate world most of us are worried about the timelines. Quarterly and yearly performance targets. Our job is to put in maximum efforts with due diligence and commitment and leave the rest to GOD as hard work never goes without rewards. Be master of the time.
  •  Like Vishnu’s Sudarshana the third eye is not something that kills people but kills the ignorance in people. Knowledge is the only reliable source for one’s success and we must constantly strive hard to acquire more than adequate knowledge in our sphere of activities.
  •  If a person is not successful in his job, it could either be due to his capability or willingness. Ability is derived from knowledge and skills, that is jnana shakti and kriya shakti. Generally we can impart trainings to individuals who lack knowledge or skills. However if he lacks willingness to perform, that is ichha shakti, no knowledge is adequate to be successful.

Lord Shiva dissolves the universe for creation of the next cycle so that the un-liberated souls will have another opportunity to liberate themselves from bondage with the physical world. As generally understood, Shiva is not the destroyer, but does creative destruction. The old have to be destroyed to create the new, whether in the physical world or in the mind. If you want to be successful in the new organization, you have to learn the culture, systems and procedures and products of the new company. If you continue to sell the products of the previous company and practice the same behavior, you may not survive here for a long time.

You will also see many similarities between Vishnu and Shiva from the symbols that are associated with them.

  • Like Vishnu’s conch, the Damaru produces “nada brahmam”, is the origin of everything. Hence Shiva is also the creator. Ganga and Kamandalu with water are also symbols for life and purity.
  • Trishul, like the Gada of Vishnu, shows the supreme authority and will be used as and when needed to punish people to bring them in the correct path.
  • The third eye of Shiva, when open does not kill people, but destroys their ignorance.
  •  Lord Shiva is the perfect Yogi, generally shown meditating and in perfect control of his mind and never too conscious of his body and appearance. A lesson that we must try to practice in our life all the time.

Shiva is the God of Death and that is why devotees chant the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra to overcome fear of death and to restore health and happiness in life. Let us also evaluate the symbols of death that one can observe in Lord Shiva.

Generally the causes of death are the following – Disease, drowning, fire, accident or death by a weapon and breathing problems.

  • Shiva has many snakes adorning his body and represents disease. (Kindly look at the symbol of India medical association, two intertwined snakes)
  • Ganga flows from the head of the lord and represents water and death by drowning.
  • Shiva’s third eye represents Fire.
  • Trishul is of course the weapon with which one can die.
  • And finally the “Jata” represents vayu and represents death by breathing problems. 

In order to overcome the fear of death and restore good health and happiness one should recite the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra which is considered extremely powerful and significant by the Hindus.

Om tryambakam yajamahe sugandhim pushti – vardhanam,

urva – rukamiva bandhanan mrityor – muksheeya ma – amritat |

Also known as the Moksha Mantra of Lord Shiva, chanting of Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is said to create divine vibrations that heals. This mantra restores health and happiness and brings calmness in the face of death. When courage or determination is blocked, it rises up to overcome obstacles. It awakens a healing force that reaches deep into the body and mind.