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Re: Status of Lakshmi - Quiry.

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_best.com)
Date: Mon Mar 29 1999 - 11:01:40 PST

Dear Sri Jagan:

Lakshmi is an inherent, distinctive part of the Godhead
according to our sampradAyam.  This is based on statements
from the Vedas, as well as countless statements from 
Itihasas, Puranas, Divya Prabandham, etc.

It is for this reason that God is known not merely
as 'Narayana', but Sriman Narayana or Tiru Narayana.
The 'man' in 'Sriman' is known as the 'matup' pratyaya
according to Sanskrit grammar.  This means that it 
is an inherent, inseparable relationship that is 
distinctive.  Narayana is God because he has Sri Devi (Lakshmi)
as his distinctive attribute.

The most important vAkya here is from the uttara-anuvAka
of the purusha sUktam, where 'hrI' (am amsa of Lakshmi)
and 'lakshmI' are declared to be the 'wives' of the Highest
Being, the Parama Purusha.

In Srimad Ramayana, it is stated at least twice that Sita
can never in reality be separated from Rama, as lustre
can never be separated from light. The words used as 
'bhAskarena prabhA yathA'.

In the Divya Prabandham, when Nammalvar takes refuge
in Lord Srinivasa, he describes Lakshmi as residing on
the chest of the Lord, saying 'akalaillEn' -- I will
never leave this place.  Similarly, Andal in the 
'kuttu viLakku eriya' paasuram in Tiruppaavai describes
Nappinnai (also an amsa of Lakshmi) as 'eththanai Elum
pirivaaRRa kilaayaal' -- who cannot be separated from
Krishna even for a second.

The word used in the pUrvAcArya granthas is 'mithunam'.
At all times, whether we seek refuge in God, or are trying
to serve God, we must see God as 'Sriman Narayana' -- 
never Narayana alone, or Lakshmi alone.  The view that
only one or the other alone is God is described by our
acharyas derisively as the 'ekAyana' system.  The followers
of Ananda Tirtha (Madhva), who espouse the Dvaita philosophy,
take this view.

Sri Uttamur Swami points out two examples from Srimad Ramayanam
which demonstrate the calamity that befalls people who have
such an incorrect notion of God.  Ravana, who desired Sita
alone, not realizing that Lakshmi is inseparably related as
'paratantra' to Narayana, did not achieve his goal and 
suffered miserably. On the other hand, Surpanakha, who desired
Rama alone and wanted to do Sita harm, suffered a nearly 
terrible fate. 

So, the important conclusion is that the Godhead is 'Sriman Narayana' --
always 'mithunam', or united.

rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani

P.S. There are some debates within the tradition as to the 
actual ontological nature of Lakshmi.  These are highly 
technical and do not affect the nature of the Godhead as
being mithunam, as the fact that Lakshmi is related as
'paratantra' to Narayana.  We need discuss these details
only if absolutely necessary.