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The Greatness of Mahalakshmi

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_CompuServe.COM)
Date: Fri Sep 13 1996 - 19:08:12 PDT

Dear Members of the Prapatthi group :

Few months ago , I wrote about the Mahalakshmi Krithis
of Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshithar . I just came across an article
that I had prepared even earlier that I could not find at that time . 
You may find it interesting and Useful .Here it is :

********** THE GREATNESS OF SRI MAHALAKSHMI *************
In the PancharAtra smahitA , Maha Vishnu explains to his senior 
disciple VishvaksenA ,the nature and attributes of His consort , 
Sri Mahalakshmi . He states that She is the resting place of all 
Gurus ,ruler of all worlds , eternal and imperishable. He elaborates 
further on their relationship:" Just as the Universe is pervaded by me
both in essence and quality , all this is pervaded by Her also . Therefore,
She is the disposer and ruler of all.... She is pervaded by me and 
similarly ,I , the Lord am also pervaded by Her. The difference 
between me and Her is that She, who is the ruler of all is subservient to me .
To Her as well as the Universe that I am the Lord ,is well known in Vedas.

In the same PancharAtra SamhitA , Sri  Mahalakshmi herself 
has explained Herself and Her consort , their pervasion and 
rulership. Sri Vatsya Varada Guru , the author of the illustrious 
work on SaranAgathi known as Prapanna ParijAtha has elaborated 
on the relationship between the divine couple as  follows : 
" That supreme energy of Brahman , which is as is lustre to the moon,
is the Goddess Lakshmi , who is coexistent with Brahman in all His 
conditions , and who is in His own nature and is indestructible. "

The sage Parasara , author of Vishnu PurAnam explains further the 
nature and significance of Sri Mahalakshmi : "She is eternal, the 
mother of the universe , the glory of Vishnu and imperishable. Just
as Vishnu is all pervading so also is She-- among Gods, animals
and humans , the glorious Hari is the masculine name and Lakshmi
is the feminine name. O MaitreyA ! There is nothing higher than  these 
(two)..... I salute that consort of the bestower of boons (Varadavallabha ) ,
who of Her own accord , occupies the position of mediatrix to men 
(and women) prior to their surrender to Her Lord; these men (and
women ) are solely addicted to sinful deeds and are for a long time 
unworthy of salvation. She promotes affection , mercy and such other 
feelings for these sinners in Her Lord .She fosters knowledge , energy
and other  attributes in them at the time of His becoming the means of 
their salvation.  She is endowed with the threecapcities of UPAYATVA
(being the means) ,UPEYATVA ( being the end) and PURUSHAKAARA
( being the mediatrix) --and is the ruler of the whole world .

Sri Mahalakshmi tatvam (concept ) is central to Sri Vaishnavism.
To the Sri VaishnavAs , She is known as SRI DEVI and She never 
leaves the side of Her consort. Ancient Gurus of Sri Vaishnavite tenet 
have recognized the centrality and significance of Her role in granting
salvation to the erring jeevans. They have praised in superb verses
Her qualities of mercy and compassion for Her suffering children , Her
intercession on our behalf with Her Lord , Her incarnations with Him , 
the redeeming power of Her glance ,and Her other myriad Kalyana
GunAs. Foremost among the celebrations of Sri Devi's auspicious 
attributes is the Kila rk of the Rig Vedam known as Sri Sooktham. 
Upanishads , Puranams and Ithihaasas have also saluted Her. 
Illustrious Acharyas such as Yamuna Muni ( Chathusloki ) , Ramanuja 
(Saranagathi Gadhyam ) , Kuresa (Sri Sthavam ) , Parasara Bhattar
( GuNarathna Kosam ) , Vedantha Desika ( Sri Sthuthi ) and Adi Sankara
(Kanaka Taraa Sthtram ) have offered their humble salutations and 
received Her blessings .

**** THE MEANING OF THE WORD SRI ****

The word Sri is a profound word with deep meanings .
Six different and yet complimentary meanings are indicated
by this word "SRI " according to Swami Desikan . Following the 
tradition  of his preceptors , he has made it clear  that Prapatthi
to Her precedes the one at the feet of Her Lord to attain freedom 
from the cycles of deaths and births. 

Let us now dwell on the six different meanings of the celebrated 
word SRI . The first meaning is  based on the intrepretation that
She makes Her  Lord listen to our pleas . This quality confers 
the attribute , SrAvayathi . Our Acharya states in this context that Her 
consort , Sriman Narayana will not go against Her request and therefore  
will listen to the appeal of Prapannas .

Before She makes Her consort listen to us , She has  to listen first
to our plaintive cries. This aspect of Her listening to our appeals 
is described a sthe guna of Srunothi , which serves as the second
meaning. After listening to our cries for help , She makes us fit for 
recommendation to Her Lord. This act is described as 
Sreenaathi , the third meaning of  Her name. By blessing us with Bahgavat
Anubhava Poorthi (Completion of the enjoyment of Her Lord's 
attributes) and Kaimkarya Poorthi (Completion of service to Him 
on this earth ) , She exercises the Sreenaathi Quality. In view of 
Her intensive compassionate listening and preparing us for 
recommendation , She is very much sought after as a refuge 
by the PrapannAs . This aspect of becoming sought refuge 
gives  the fourth meaning of Her name as Sreeyathe. 

After listening to us and after preparing us for Her Lord's 
attention , She beseeches Her consort  for our protection.
By this act, She demonstrates the attribute of the fifth meaning ,
Sraayathi of Sri Sabdham. By making Her Lord listen to and accept 
Her recommendations  on our behalf ,she dispels our difficulties 
and earns as a result the sixth meaning Srunaathi for Her name .
Thus Her  name of Sri carries the six complimentary meanings 
-- SREEYATHI, SRAAYATHI , SRUNOTHI , SRUNAATHI ,
SRAAVAYATHI AND SREENAATHI--and these explain Her 
paramount  role in conferring us the supreme bliss of Moksham .

Sri Devyai Nama:

Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan