Who is She? Who is Sri? Sri, or Shri Devi, also called Lakshmi, is a goddess of prosperity, affluence, splendour, beauty, opportunity, wealth, quality-luck, light and riches, grace and glory, to name a part of what she represents. Sri, embodiment of beauty, fortune and success, is a source of strength too.
The four hands in many a traditional, iconic depiction of Lakshmi signifies, "Know and understand your purposes."
Then, what purposes, what goal? They are taken to be at least fourfold: (1) artha (pursuit of wealth, means of life), (2) kama (pursuit of love, emotional fulfillment), (3) dharma (pursuit of ethical, moral life), and (4) moksha (pursuit of self-knowledge, liberation), but not necessarily in this order. All four of the great goals of life may intertwine. Oneshould not try get rich by unethical means, for example, or devote oneself to deranged and harmful forms of lust and desire, kama. That is what the iconography suggests.
Considering one's day-by-day journey toward death. Tamed animals think little of days ahead, that their lives may be cut short, and may not reflect on what happens after death. But humans try to figure it out, and conclude that life is a journey toward death, after all. At bottom, that design is what "Forward!" tends to mean. There are many ramifications, though, and many wise words to remind of what is to come, like "Remember you are going to die," "Memento mori".
If life is a journey, can we go backward and become like little children again? How to? By doing other things than the others who are led to death, unthinking, unable to retrace their steps a lot and get very supple again. Remaining young at heart is a lot.
"Love is like a flower." Sri is associated with a lotus. The bud grows out of the water from its roots beneath, and rises up into the air. The flower represents reality, and the whole plant indicates how to make proficient use of growing up in wrong or bad circumstances - being a reminder that good love and freedom (moksha) does not have to be curbed by the evil in one's surroundings.
A growing lotus plant shows how sound development helps, and not being exploited and hindered in blossoming on one's own deep behalf. One probably has to be firm for it.
Further, a woman should go for being a likable emanation of the goddess. Compare Sri Kamala Stotram and Sri Daivakrita Laksmi Stotram. Thus the iconography teaches how to embody Lakshmi like a lotus growing where it is rooted, and making the best of it somehow. Lakshmi is a mother of insights and virtuous actions, and personifies spiritual fulfilments, not just courage, fertility, continuity, victory. knowledge and education, and money.
Icon animals: elephants and owl. The symbol animals surrounding her, two elephants represent strength and prospertity (elephant), and her owl symbolises penetrating sight in the worldly darkness too,; at times patient knowledge. Sri also stands form "Maintain the just peace."
Many forms of wealth - and two main forms of it. The wealth of Sri is twofold: spiritual wealth and worldly wealth. It is pointed out in upanishads that Self-realization is the true and ultimate wealth.
[More: WP, "Sri"; "Devi"; "Lakshmi"]
Wealth to bring with you. The next matter shows up too: Those who say, "You can't get it with you," talk of worldly items, and hardly of spiritual wealth gathered on earth. But a sensible guy goes for getting anchored in the mud, growing upwards by stems and blades and buds, in stages, finally to transcend like a lotus flower out of the water - looking splendid, beautiful and all that. Simplified: One goes for worldly, mental and spiritual wealth when one can. The ways are many, but the lovely goal is of a spiritual kind. Spiritual growth toward paramartha, the highest purpose, is the highest goal. Paramartha is composed of parama, supreme, and artha, wealth, meaning, purpose, aim, good teachings, tells John Grimes (2009).
Things remain, but being associated with many them could be with us on leaving earth. If you don't believe it, try . . . for you have scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita on your side:< if you try to belive it.
Suppose that many and wise things you do regularly and often in this world, steer you into a future related to those activities. The Bhagavad Gita tells it works much like that - that continuation of efforts is another factor for the future, main conditions. Devoting oneself to good things should help - by repetitions and regularity and intensity hand in hand in hand, so to speak.
Arjuna said, "A man who has faith, but not steadfastness, and whose mind has wandered away from yoga - what end does he gain, having failed to gain perfection in yoga?"
So what if some things go with you through death's door and remain with you somehow "over there", in the beyond? What if you can improve your future fare here and over there by smartness and decency hand in hand?
A wonderful guy seeks to sort out and gather the decent "things" that may be allowed beyond, enriching himself or herself where it counts. Good deeds are such "things", says a lot of gurus, and the Bhagavad Gita, and Buddha too. One may do good and thereby improve one's fare throughout lives-and-deaths, The Bhagavad Gita elaborates on it.
People go along - either upwards, on the same level, or downwards.
The downwards-movers do wicked things and lose their subtle sides by it - conscience, wit - and end up like brutes. In the beyond the go to hell, some of them, if they don't go to heaven. There is a possibility they will, says Buddha, telling it is the weight of one's long-term karma that determines where one will be ushered after a death, upwards to some heaven, or downward to some hells for the wicked. The same goes for the next birth - The total, balancing karma tends to determine it. But there are exceptions. If you get skilled, Self-realized, decent, and won't quarrel, for example, the karma that was lying in wait for you, may not affect you too badly. Let us hope that.
Better be on the safer side and behave well - adhering to the moral precepts. But that is hardly enough if the good karma is outweighted by bad karma, and dark, sombre circumstances are waiting.
One may add quite as in Paternoster: "May we not get into temptation. Save us from the evil ones. There are many sinners to lead one astray, and some carry crosses on their bellies.
This faith - that karma is something, and that it is developed, may be improved, settled or abated in a lifetime in a series of alternating lives and heaven-lives, is shared by so many. Buddha teaches it, and kriya-yogis like Paramahansa Yogananda too.
You may also have one or several task to do in your life, but it depends. See what you are up to. All the same, very much boils down to, "Meditate and get Self-realised, and do good to help yourself to a better life if you should decide to be born again." How? By the most effective meditation methods, doing them all right, having a helping gurudev, and remember that avanti - Italian for "Let's go!" and "Forward!" - has many meanings. You do well to choose those who benefit you - then others, and further. That is what charity means in the Church. It begins with doing good to yourself in the fit perspective if you can find it, then spreads into your home and nearest ones, but does not have to end by that, in part as a proverb says.
Chidbhavananda, Swami. The Bhagavad Gita. Tirupparaithurai: Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam, 2012.
Fosse, Lars Martin. The Bhagavad Gita: The Original Sanskrit and an English Translation. Woodstock, NY: YogaVidya.com, 2007.
Grimes, John. A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English. 3rd and rev. ed. Varanasi: Indica Books, 2009.
Nikhilananda, Swami, tr. The Bhagavad Gita. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1952.
Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation and Commentary with Sanskrit Text. Chapters 1 to 6. Reprint ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972.
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