Lakshmi, or very commonly Sri, is the wife of Vishnu, and under various names appears in this relation in his various incarnations. “As the lord of the worlds, the god of gods, Janārddana descends amongst mankind in various shapes; so does his coadjutor Sri.
Thus, when Hari was born a dwarf, the son of Aditi, Lakshmi appeared from the lotus as Padmā, or Kamalā; when he was born as Rāma (Parasurāma) of the race of Bhrigu, she was Dharāni; when he was Rāghava (Ramachandra), she was Sita; and when he was Krishna, she was Rukmini.
In the other descents of Vishnu she was his associate. If he takes a celestial form, she appears as divine; if a mortal, she becomes a mortal too, transforming her own person agreeably to whatever character it pleases Vishnu to assume.”
There are two somewhat contradictory accounts of her origin; the “Vishnu Purāna” explains this. “The divinities Dhāta and Vidhātā were born to Bhrigu by Khyāti, as was a daughter Sri, the wife of Nārāyana, the god of gods.”
The question is asked, “It is commonly said that Sri was born from the sea of milk, when it was churned for ambrosia; how then can you say that she was the daughter of Bhrigu and Khyāti?” In answer to this question, a most elaborate account of her virtues is given: “Sri, the bride of Vishnu, the mother of the world, is eternal, imperishable; as he is all-pervading, so she is omnipresent.
Vishnu is meaning, she is speech; Hari is polity, she is prudence; Vishnu is understanding, she is intellect; he is righteousness, she is devotion; Sri is the earth, Hari is its support. In a world, of gods, animals, and men, Hari is all that is called male; Lakshmi is all that is termed female; there is nothing else than they.”
Later on we read, “Her first birth was as the daughter of Bhrigu and Khyāti; it was at a subsequent period that she was produced from the sea, at the churning of the ocean by the demons and the gods.”
The account of the churning of the ocean, to which frequent reference is made in the Hindu scriptures, is found in the Rāmāyana, and several of the Purānas; though there are some discrepancies, they agree in the main. The reason for this great act is as follows:
A saint named Durvāras, a portion of Siva, was travelling, when he met a celestial nymph with a sweet-smelling garland, which at his request she gave to him. Excited with the scent, he was dancing, when he met Indra, seated on his elephant.
To please the mighty god, the saint presented him with the garland, who placed it upon his elephant’s bead. The elephant in his turn becoming excited, seized the garland with his trunk and threw it upon the ground. Durvāras, seeing his gift slighted, cursed the god in his anger, and told him that his kingdom should be overwhelmed with ruin.
From that time Indra’s power began to wane; for though he sought forgiveness, the Brāhman’s anger was not to be appeased. As the effects of the curse were experienced by the gods, they, fearing they should be overcome by the asuras, fled to Brahmā for help. He told them he could not assist them; that Vishnu alone could do this, whom he advised them to seek.
Brahmā conducted them to Vishnu; and, having sufficiently lauded him, caused him to lend a willing ear to their request.
On Sri’s appearance the sages were enraptured, the heavenly choristers sang her praises, and the celestial nymphs danced before her. Gangā and the other sacred streams followed her, and the heavenly elephants took up their pure waters in golden vessels and poured them upon her.
The sea of milk presented her with a wreath of unfading flowers; and the artist of the gods decorated her with lovely ornaments. Thus bathed, attired, and adorned, the goddess, in the presence of the gods, cast herself upon the breast of Hari, and, reclining there, gazed upon the gods, who were enraptured with her. Siva was most violent and wished to possess himself of her.
From the demons she turned away; hence they were miserable. Seeing the cup of nectar, they tried to seize it, when Vishnu, assuming the appearance of a beautiful woman, attracted their attention, whilst the gods quaffed the divine cup. The result was that in the conflict which followed the gods were successful.
“The name of Lakshmi as that of a goddess does not occur in the Rig-Veda, though the word itself is found in its signification as prosperity.”
Goddess Lakshmi alongwith God Vishnu riding on Garuda