Ashtalaxmi breaks down into two words. Ashta means Eight and Laxmi means wealth. Hence literal translation of Ashtalaxmi is eight forms of wealth. Hindus pray to Mahalaxmi for fortune and Ashtalaxmi is just the manifestation of Mahalaxmi in eight different forms. Most of the Mahalaxmi temples houses idols for all eight forms of Ashtalaxmi. Each of the representation symbolises different type of wealth –be it gold and precious possession, knowledge, intellect, health, prosperity, valour, victory, fame, morality and virtuous off-springs. All of her avataars are seen sitting on Lotus – which is considered a symbol of wealth.
Her first avataar – ‘Adi Laxmi’ is an incarnation of the daughter of Sage Bhrigu – Laxmi. She is the true embodiment of Mahalaxmi herself. She bears four arms – one carrying a white flag and a lotus in another, the other two hands rest in varada and abhaya mudra.
The second avataar is prayed for fortune and is known as ‘Dhana Laxmi’. She is the most revered form of Mahalaxmi. She is dressed in red, bearing six arms, carrying Chakra, Conch shell, Pitcher containing holy water – amrit and lotus. One hand in abhaya mudra from which an unending trail of gold coins falls down and the other arm in varada mudra blessing us.
‘Dhanya Laxmi’ is third manifestation of Mahalaxmi. She is dear to the hearts of farmers as she is a giver of agricultural wealth in terms of good harvest. She is dressed in green and carries two lotuses, mace, paddy crop, sugarcane and other food grains in her six of her hands. Other two hands stay in abhaya and varada mudra.
‘Gaja Laxmi’ is another form worshipped for cattle wealth. She is said to have once returned all the wealth lost by Indra. Provider of royalty, she appears with her four arms, holding lotus in two of her hands and other resting in abhaya and varada gesture. She is always accompanied by two elephants on either side, which symbolises good fortune and auspicious beginnings.
‘Santana Laxmi’ is prayed for healthy and virtuous off-springs. She carries pitchers (Kalasha with mango leaves and coconut resting above it). She also carries a child in her third arm and blesses the couple with her fourth arm.
‘Veera Laxmi’ is prayed for courage. She bestows valour in grave circumstances. She confers confidence and ability in one-self to overcome any situation. She is seen in her fearless avataar dressed in red with eight arms carrying different weapons and scriptures.
‘Vijaya Laxmi’ is the giver of victory and success. In earlier times, the army chief would pray to both Vijaya Laxmi and Veera Laxmi avataars for their success in battlefield. She is the most fierce avataar seen carrying different weapons in her eight hands.
The last of the form is ‘Vidya Laxmi”. She is revered for Knowledge and Intellect. Ancient gurus prayed to her for enlightenment of knowledge and the ability to best apply it in different situations. She is seen dressed in white carrying scriptures and a pitcher of holy water in her hands with other two blessing the devotee with her kindness.
Each of the avataar is prayed to seek blessings for both a materially and spiritually fulfilled life. With loyal devotion, she blesses her devotees with wholesome life.