Keeping Photographs Near To Our Hearts! – Rumi

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With the passing of Sathya Sai Baba, the pleasure of remembering those early days has been taken from me, because there is no longer anyone to remember with. Those ashram days are all but over for most of us that visited.  It feels like losing my  co-rememberer and like losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done, back then, were less real and important to what the day holds for us now. I began the blog with my memories of Sathya Sai Baba, taking notes from my memory and writings to post on to this blog. I eagerly waited for each visit to come around, so I could jot down more experiences and events as they unfolded in his ashram.  Mostly, I was lucky enough to have many stories to pass on to others with  like-minds and who had shared experiences. Now Sai has gone, I’ve turned  to creating YouTubes of  Rumi poems, to add to my list of hobbies. Through Rumi poems and my photography, I’m able to create Youtubes that will keep both photos and the poems I love, alive and at my reach.

This is my first You Tube this year. I hope some of you will visit and take a few minutes to watch.

Thank you. Eve

Floral Park, Haute Bretagne – Travel Logue and Photos

House Ivy -photo from a week ago.
House Ivy -photo from a week ago.
“The earth laughs in flowers.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Yes indeed! and the trees whisper in our ears. I love to take photos of both. Nature to me has more gems than the Crown Jewels and yet they do not cost a thing. Today, and in my future posts, I plan to write about my visits here and there and to post photos. There’s little else I can offer in the way of spiritual stories. I’ve done with that for now. I offer instead, a short peek into our visit to Haute Bretagne Floral gardens, Fr.   
Floral gardan -the lake
Floral garden – The Lake

I don’t think we left soon enough for the trip to Normandy, Fr. It took over three hours from where we live and by the time we arrived it was late afternoon. The weather was fine when we left home, but dark clouds loomed by the time we reached Caen, then they lifted and then the sky turned dark again. After we left Nantes behind, a drizzling rain threatened to spoil the visit. Oppsie! Bloggers are not suppose to mention weather in the first paragraph. Sorry, I’ve broken the golden rule!

Finding the small turning  off the highway, for the town of  Fougères on the way to Normandy was more than difficult. There were a few signs as we left the highway for the back lanes but no real clear directions. Loads of pastures and fields of wheat and corn, clearly we were off the beaten track. Never mind, the villages were quaint and worth a visit. I love this part of Brittany, it is prettier than where we live and offers a lot to visitors. There are many visitors too, for the U.S. Cemeteries are located in Fougères and all along the coast, all the way to Le Harve.

Finally after a few wrong turnings we found a small town, not sure of its name. A town though filled of flowers. Another excuse to stop for another camera opportunity. Luckily we found a sign for the Park Floral. We eventually found it tucked away behind a field of cows.

The park sparkled in the late afternoon sunshine.The clouds had drifted and parted and a brilliant blue sky shone through for the rest of the afternoon. The other good thing – the park appeared to be uninhabited. There was absolutely no one there, other than the park’s gardeners, hidden away behind the shrubs. The down-side of that scenario – the small cafe was “ferme.” Nothing new there, I can tell you. “Ferme” is part of life in France. We can never leave home without water bottles and sandwiches. A cup of tea or coffee is out of the question, unless lucky enough to find a roadside stop-off. They are rare in this part of France. It would be another six hours before I had a cup of cafe.’  We just happened to return through Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, where an excellent roadside Cafe is located. It was  “ouvert.”

The Floral park was more than amazing. It’s silence made me stand still for a moment to surrender to its peace. The birds chirped but there was nothing else. France does have an absence of wildlife in this area.(I put that down to overuse of chemicals on the crops.) I did not see a butterfly or bee the whole time there. Maybe it was too late in the year, or they just were not around.

Amazing that a park full of the most beautiful plants on earth can be so sterile. I was not able to capture the beauty of the park on camera. Not sure why not. I have managed the odd whimsical shot – but mostly, I feel, the park was too formal, so didn’t photograph too well.


Small stone watch tower,overlooking the Japanese gardens.
Small stone watch tower,overlooking the Japanese gardens.

Magical lookout over the pond and gardens. A breath-taking view!
Magical lookout over the pond and gardens. A breath-taking view!

The Japanese garden, one of 15 gardens, is huge! I cannot express my feelings about this colourful vista. Just walking through the tiny pathways that meander through the garden is an adventure in Paradise. This garden definitely is not of the Earthy type. I felt I’d died and gone to heaven. The colours so vibrant with vines and huge trees all intertwined, provides the visitor with a feeling of Eden.  I wandered through all the paths and with every twist and turn, something more sublime met my eyes. The small rope bridge with its wobbly wood surface, appeared unsafe but I was not to be fooled. I crossed without incident.

Rope Bridge across the stream
Rope Bridge across the stream

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stone steps
stone steps, small pathways, and small rocky waterfalls. pathway8

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My last photograph posted below is of a very unusual Hydrangea. It’s growing with other foliage up against the  stone wall that forms the garden entrance. I had to smile when taking the photo, because like all the other plants and shrubs in this exquisite floral garden, it grew in a stylish French way. Look at the way the small flowers tumble!  Rather like Paris fashion models wearing their finest and latest “Mode.”  Je dois vous revoir! Viva la belle France!

Lacy Hydrangea growing against the old stone wall. floral Park
Lacy Hydrangea growing against the old stone wall. floral Park

Through Beauty – Inspirational

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Flower Mock Orange taken this Spring

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Here are seveal of my recent photos of the Mock Orange. I love taking photos of this flower because of its elegance and sublime beauty, and the way it lends itself to the camera. The pity is the Mock Orange does not last long, along with all other Spring flowers it fades before there’s time to really take enough photos to make a good collection. Here are two of my better photos of this imposing flower from a few weeks ago taken outside in the rain.


.Black Iris - Karen Platt's Blog

Photo ~ Black Iris, Karen Platt’s Blog


“There are moments in our lives that stand still in time while all the frantic hours and years surrounding them have blurred into an obscurity of grayness. One such moment remains vivid in my mind after more than thirty years, a luminescent spot of time, as clear as if it had happened only yesterday. It was in one of those dark, cavern-like vaults of a lecture hall in college where Art History was offered as a slide show, and it was a perfectly ordinary lecture on American artists, clicking through shadowed images of Cubism and Futurism until a huge close-up of an iris glowed from the screen. “Black Iris.” Georgia O’Keeffe. A simple polarity of translucent light petals reaching upward and dark falls cascading downward made the flower look like a cathedral illumined from within. Breath stopped, mind stopped, and I felt myself dissolve into beauty, passing through painted veils of titanium white and dove gray mist, suspended over waves of amethyst, troughs of onyx. It was as if a thread of light flowing through the moment pierced me to the soul, connecting me to a higher realm.

There were no words in my nineteen-year-old mind to describe the epiphany I’d felt; there are no exact words this day. Words attempt to anchor experience, but that place was wordless and ineffable. In that light-filled moment I was changed forever, uplifted with new possibility. When I left class that afternoon, I had a mission in life: to attempt to stir in others that same sense of wonder: I began to study painting.”

–Rebecca Robison, an excerpt from “Through Beauty,” reaching for a harmonious whole, in PARABOLA, Volume 27, No. 3, Fall, 2002, “Grace.”

Beauty Redeemed- Inspirational Quotations

Hellebores from my garden
Hellebores from my garden

 

 

Being overwhelmed by the news and the continuing ordeal of the Charlie Hebdo events, I took off to the garden to take photos. I hope another post on the delights of the camera is not over doing it.

Often, during the winter, photography is not an option. The sun is hidden behind dark, low clouds, all looks grey and listless. At least they do here. There is little hope, with such weather, to take even a decent outside photo. It’s only when the sun suddenly and unexpectedly peaks through the clouds, perhaps at lunchtime some days, when I can venture into the garden to see what’s growing. There is one beautiful flower that somehow thrives in the darkest winter months – that is the Hellebore. The flowers of the Helleborus are almost a threat to the darkness of winter, for they are one of the most beautiful of all flowers. I have several Hellebores in the garden, from darkest purple to creamy pink. Here are some photos of the creamy pink one. I don’t even think the camera can do them justice, still I try. Here’s a few from today.

Youtube, at the bottom of this post, is quite special, a time lapse nature clip with amazing photos of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. What can be better than to watch such beauty on a cold winter’s day. 🙂

Camera Lumix LX7 – macro flowers, edited in Topaz Clarity, and Ribbit, although not too much editing on classic flowers.

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A Favourite Quote

With our faith invested in the lies, we no longer see the truth. The lies blind our faith, the power of our creation.  ~ Don M. Ruiz

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We Are All Connected – You Tube
(Beautiful, breath-taking time lapse photography)

The Sound Of A Thousand Butterfly Wings – Video

The amazing photography of Louie Schwartzberg –

(Photographers be warned: There is no other video to compare with this on you tube)

 

You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?

“I drank that wine of which the soul is is vessel. Its ecstasy has stolen my intellect away. A light came and kindled a flame in the depth of my soul. A light so radiant that the sun orbits around it like a butterfly.”  -Rumi
photo source: Nowie
photo source: Nowie

 

Louie Schwartzberg bio

For over three decades, the award-winning cinematographer has been creating iconic and memorable images while becoming widely known as one of the industry’s most innovative cinematographers. Schwartzberg’s work in the areas of time-lapse photography, nature, aerial and “slice-of-life” photography are recognized around the world. Schwartzberg has been the recipient of two Clio Awards and received one Emmy Award nomination. He was recognized as one of the top 70 cinematographers for the “On Film Kodak Salute Series.” He is the ONLY cinematographer who has literally been shooting continuously, around-the-clock for over 30 years.

From The Ted Talk –  “Gratitude”

Did you know that 80 percent of the information we receive comes through our eyes? And if you compare light energy to musical scales, it would only be one octave that the naked eye could see, which is right in the middle? And aren’t we grateful for our brains that can, you know, take this electrical impulse that comes from light energy to create images in order for us to explore our world? And aren’t we grateful that we have hearts that can feel these vibrations in order for us to allow ourselves to feel the pleasure and the beauty of nature?

Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude. So I have a gift I want to share with you today, a project I’m working on called Happiness Revealed, and it’ll give us a glimpse into that perspective from the point of view of a child and an elderly man of that world.

Child: When I watch TV, it’s just some shows that you just — that are pretend, and when you explore, you get more imagination than you already had, and when you get more imagination, it makes you want to go deeper in so you can get more and see beautifuler things, like the path, if it’s a path, it could lead you to a beach, or something, and it could be beautiful. 

Elderly Man: You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.

Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes you can open, that incredible array of colors that is constantly offered to us for pure enjoyment. Look at the sky. We so rarely look at the sky. We so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment, with clouds coming and going. We just think of the weather, and even with the weather, we don’t think of all the many nuances of weather. We just think of good weather and bad weather. This day, right now, has unique weather, maybe a kind that will never exactly in that form come again. That formation of clouds in the sky will never be the same as it is right now. Open your eyes. Look at that.

Look at the faces of people whom you meet. Each one has an incredible story behind their face, a story that you could never fully fathom, not only their own story, but the story of their ancestors. We all go back so far, and in this present moment, on this day, all the people you meet, all that life from generations and from so many places all over the world flows together and meets you here like a life-giving water, if you only open your heart and drink. 

 Open your heart to the incredible gifts that civilization gives to us. You flip a switch and there is electric light. You turn a faucet and there is warm water and cold water, and drinkable water. It’s a gift that millions and millions in the world will never experience.

http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude/transcript

Ted talk – The Hidden Miracles

http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_hidden_miracles_of_the_natural_world

 

 

Native American Indians Butterfly Facts

Due to the natural beauty of its wings, the butterfly is often considered vain. Yet, in Navajo mythology, the butterfly brings the sacred flint to the hooves of the horse. In the legend of the deity, “Butterfly Boy”  was cured of his vanity by being struck by an axe by Rain Boy on the head.   His  wounded head cracked opened  and out of it came all the butterflies of the world. The perishable dust of butterfly’s wings is sometimes thought to prove that such beauty is usually not durable.  A corollary:  In Navajo belief, the butterfly’s origin is the caterpillar, sacred because of his ability to transform into butterfly. However, while butterfly may not always be trusted because of their vanity, caterpillar is a simple, many-footed walker through life. He may give advice to his “betters.” (In other words the caterpillar does the work, the butterfly is just a creation of beauty that does not last long.)

A Beautiful Woman – You Tube

Our quest for beauty and perfection is born out of our fear that we are not good enough. We have forgotten the old adage that real beauty is found in the human heart. A beautiful heart is forever, physical beauty dulls in only a few short years. Even with the added advantages of creams and lotions, surgery and everything else on offer, none of these can give us real beauty, if the heart is not beautiful. Look deeply  into the face of aging people for there you will see through the lines and the wrinkles, to the soul that in age, seems to be visible on the face.  We call that character and every line tells a story. I believe that is true.

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” — John Lennon


A bit about the video The Evolution of Woman. 

Geishas preparing tea
Geishas preparing tea

In the quest for beauty, over the centuries, women have mauled and manipulated just about every body part – lips, eyes, ears, waists, skulls, foreheads, stomachs, breasts and feet – that did not fit into the cookie-cutter ideal of a particular era’s ideal of beauty and perfection.What woman doesn’t want to be beautiful? Women want to please and will go to extreme measures to achieve the beauty ideal.  Women have suffered, sacrificed and punished themselves under the tyranny of beauty. I guess the old adage is as true today as it was way back then, to be beautiful is to be loved.

 

Unshakeable Love – Love And Friendship

I just happened upon this beautiful ‘writing’  from the late Bob Marley.  How true are his words and, yes with love, everything is brighter and more joyful. We are filled up with that one person who makes our heart flutter. We want to give them our all -in-all. Yet, so few of us will take the chance to love. Oftentimes, we do  the opposite and shy away from love. Perhaps to avoid the pain if our love goes wrong. But love is always a chance……Although Divine love is never a chance. It is the goal.


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Friendship is the expression

of unshakeable love ~ Baba

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awindowbox999“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again.

Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”

― Bob Marley

photograph from  window box looking on to my garden.

Gajalakshmi – Myths and Legends

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Gajalakshmi – the Goddess of Wealth and Beauty

This small article  about  Gajalakshmi was written by me over a decade ago. I found it just last night and decided to post it here.


There are eight forms of the Goddess ‘Shri’ Lakshmi  popularly known as the Goddess of wealth and beauty. The honourable title  ‘Shri’ connotes beauty, auspiciousness, glory and high rank for these qualities naturally belong to Shri Lakshmi.  ‘Shri’ in the Vedic hymns also suggests power, superior skills and abundance.

One of the most ancient of the iconographic images of Shri Lakshmi is the Gajalakshmi. We see in photographs, the beautiful Goddess seated between two elephants. The Goddess and the the elephants both symbolise strength, prosperity and forbearance, all that is noble and good in life. Shri Lakshmi is exalted in this form and becomes abundance personified.

Sometimes the elephants are shown spouting water over Shri Lakshmi, this indicates that abhishek or ‘ritual bathing’ is necessary for all those who seek power and rank that first, they need to purify themselves in sacred water before taking high office, with all the privileges that accompany it.

When prayers are offered to Gajalakshmi, they align the devotee with Gajalakshmi gifts of abundance dignity, honour, and righteousness, and the power to rule over your own domain, be it spiritual or secular.

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A Little About The Goddess Lakshmi

Lore has it that Lakshmi arose out of the sea of milk, the primordial cosmic ocean, bearing a red lotus in her hand. Each member of the divine triad- Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (creator, preserver and destroyer respectively)- wanted to have her for himself. Shiva’s claim was refused for he had already claimed the Moon, Brahma had Saraswati, so Vishnu claimed her and she was born and reborn as his consort during all of his ten incarnations.

Though retained by Vishnu as his consort, Lakshmi remained an avid devotee of Lord Shiva. An interesting legend surrounds her devotion to this god:

Every day Lakshmi had a thousand flowers plucked by her handmaidens and she offered them to the idol of Shiva in the evening. One day, counting the flowers as she offered them, she found that there were two less than a thousand. It was too late to pluck any more for evening had come and the lotuses had closed their petals for the night.

Lakshmi thought it inauspicious to offer less than a thousand. Suddenly she remembered that Vishnu had once described her breasts as blooming lotuses. She decided to offer them as the two missing flowers.

Lakshmi cut off one breast and placed it with the flowers on the altar. Before she could cut off the other, Shiva, who was extremely moved by her devotion, appeared before her and asked her to stop. He then turned her cut breast into round, sacred Bael fruit (Aegle marmelos) and sent it to Earth with his blessings, to flourish near his temples.

A few texts say that Lakshmi is the wife of Dharma. She and several other goddesses, all of whom are personifications of certain auspicious qualities, are said to have been given to Dharma in marriage. This association seems primarily to represent a thinly disguised “wedding” of Dharma (virtuous conduct) with Lakshmi (prosperity and well-being). The point of the association seems to be to teach that by performing Dharma one obtains prosperity.

Tradition also associates Lakshmi with Kubera, the ugly lord of the Yakshas. The Yakshas were a race of supernatural creatures who lived outside the pale of civilization. Their connection with Lakshmi perhaps springs from the fact that they were notable for a propensity for collecting, guarding and distributing wealth. Association with Kubera deepens the aura of mystery and underworld connections that attaches itself to Lakshmi. Yakshas are also symbolic of fertility. The Yakshinis (female Yakshas) depicted often in temple sculpture are full-breasted and big-hipped women with wide generous mouths, leaning seductively against trees. The identification of Shri, the goddess who embodies the potent power of growth, with the Yakshas is natural. She, like them, involves, and reveals herself in the irrepressible fecundity of plant life, as exemplified in the legend of Shiva and the Bael fruit narrated above, and also in her association with the lotus, to be described later.

An interesting and fully developed association is between Lakshmi and the god Indra. Indra is traditionally known as the king of the gods, the foremost of the gods, and he is typically described as a heavenly king. It is therefore appropriate for Shri-Lakshmi to be associated with him as his wife or consort. In these myths she appears as the embodiment of royal authority, as a being whose presence is essential for the effective wielding of royal power and the creation of royal prosperity.

The Eightfold Lakshmi By Swami Chidananda

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When we come first of all to consider Maha Lakshmi in Her cosmic aspect as Avidya-Maya who has to preserve the world-process which has evolved out of the Supreme Being, we find that She is conceived of as all the various things that are necessary to have a prosperous and successful life upon this earthplane. We have the conception of Mahalakshmi in Her eightfold forms and the Hindus refer to Her as the Ashta-Lakshmi. For the sustenance of life upon this earth the most important thing is food. All beings live upon this physical plane through the nourishment derived from physical food and the chief source of food upon earth is corn that is cultivated. Grain is Dhaanya. Therefore, Mother is worshipped as Dhaanya-Lakshmi. It is a common sight to see upon a particular day in the year set apart for this specific purpose, the cultivator and all the people worshipping the freshly-cut sheaves of golden corn that has been gathered at harvest-time. It is a very joyous festival. The first crop of golden corn which has filled the field is cut, taken up with great ceremony, with music and rejoicing and it is brought to the house wherein all the ceremonial worship due to a deity is offered to it. Thus Mother in Her universal aspect as life-sustaining corn is regarded as the most important factor and in this form Lakshmi is manifest in this world of ours.

Secondly, for all human dealings, in society, both intra-national and international, money or wealth is of paramount importance. Without wealth man cannot live with happiness, prosperity and success. He cannot undertake any works; and therefore, Mother is also conceived of as Dhana. It means wealth in any form—in the form of coins, goods—all valuable things. Thus wealth also is revered and worshipped in society.

The Mother in these various forms is worshipped by different classes of people in India. The Hindu society is based upon the beautiful plan of Varnashrama. There is a general division of labour in the whole society as it is and different aspects of national life are entrusted to different sections of the community and in Her eightfold aspects as Dhaanya-Lakshmi, Dhana-Lakshmi, Dhairya-Lakshmi, Vidya-Lakshmi, Jaya-Lakshmi, Veerya-Lakshmi, Gaja-Lakshmi and Saubhagya-Lakshmi, Mother is worshipped in the form of life-giving corn, of wealth, of Apara-Vidya (knowledge of arts and sciences which is very essential if one must live a civilised and happy life—all knowledge pertaining to this material universe is Mother in the form of Vidya), of Dhairya (to utilise wealth and knowledge one must have enterprise), of Veerya (vitality or virility), of Gaja (royal power or the power of royalty), of Jaya (the power of victory over adverse circumstances, obstacles that stand in the way of a happy, prosperous and successful life) and of Saubhagya (prosperity in general). In these eight aspects, the power of the nourisher and sustainer Lakshmi is manifest in the world of human beings. The Kshatriya worships the Mother in the form of victory-giving weapons; to him the sword and all the other weapons are the victory-giving manifestations of Mahalakshmi. To the Vaishya who belongs to the third social order, who carries on commerce and business in human society, the great power is the power of money; therefore, a day is set apart to specially worship Goddess Lakshmi in this aspect of money, by them. It is a common sight on Deepavali and Lakshmi Puja, especially in wealthy cities like Bombay, when silver coins would be put into a heap and worshipped as any deity would be worshipped by the devout Hindu, as the visible manifestation of Divine Mother Lakshmi Herself. The fourth class, Sudras, worship Lakshmi as grain which they help to produce. By the Brahmin who is the trustee of knowledge and who is to impart knowledge to all people Mother is worshipped in the form of Vidya and as books. Implements of machinery, every sort of Ayudha that help to keep life going upon earth, are also worshipped on Ayudha Puja day. The conception of the Motherhood of God in its aspect as the preserving and life-sustaining form is thus practically demonstrated in the Hindu society in these various ways.


Goddess Lakshmi is often depicted with two white elephants pouring water. This form of Goddess Lakshmi is known as Gajalakshmi. In some images four elephants are shown pouring water on Goddess Mahalakshmi. The four elephants are symbols of Kama (desire), the water may be to cool  the “passions.” I don’t know. I just love the photos of the Goddess.