Eternal Soul Mates Vishnu and Lakshmi
The Lakshmi-Vishnu union is the ultimate soul mate relationship, meant to last throughout time. Their relationship is mythic and plays a huge role in Hindu belief, and they deserve their own book. They are each whole and powerful unto themselves, and together, they have a unique union that literally spans through eternity, but their relationship is interpreted in different ways.
When Lakshmi is in her form of Mahalakshmi, she is an all-powerful divinely feminine force that goes way beyond being a consort or wife. When they are together, they are said to represent a supreme state and are known as Lakshmi Narayan. In Vaishnavism, a major religious sect of Hinduism, Vishnu is worshipped, and Lakshmi is adored as his divine consort. The affiliation of Lakshmi as a devoted wife to Lord Vishnu is a prevailing aspect of her identity.
For those who interpret or experience these two divine figures as equal partners, it can be confusing to see how Lakshmi is sometimes viewed from a more patriarchal point of view, as one who is subservient when she is in her husband's company.
Lynn Foulston and Stuart Abbott describe their relationship this way in Hindu Goddesses: Beliefs and Practices: "The goddess Lakshmi is widely now known as the goddess of wealth and prosperity. She is Shakti and consort of Vishnu, and they represent the perfect couple, according to Puranic tradition." In ancient interpretations of their relationship that still are prevalent today, Lakshmi is viewed as "governed" by Vishnu in exchange for "strength and a solid base."
Sometimes she is viewed as his main support system and the one who helps enliven his power and energy. It is clear that in early iconography, Vishnu is represented as a larger figure than Lakshmi and sometimes has two consorts. In one of the most famous depictions of the two, Lakshmi is massaging his feet as he reclines on the cosmic snake known as Sesha. In these images, Lakshmi usually has only two arms rather than her usual four. On one level, he can take credit for helping Lakshmi emerge during the churning of the sea since it was all done under his direction, but it is also important to note that she was given the choice to select a god as a mate and she picked him! Immediately.
Whether viewed through the traditional interpretations of her role as Vishnu's consort or through modern interpretations that embrace them as equal divine partners that empower and support one another, both god and goddess are there to bless devotees with their individual grace, their combined power, and their love and devotion for one another. Their relationship is generally viewed with great reverence.
It is said that Lakshmi joins Vishnu in each incarnation. As eternal mates, in all worlds and all forms, they are connected through each incarnation. As Vishnu's wife and consort, Lakshmi manifests in different ways in order to be with him. For those incarnations that she does not accompany him on, he has a special way of carrying Lakshmi with him.
Lakshmi Helps Her Partner: There are ten forms of Vishnu that Lakshmi has some connection to:
1. Matsya (The Fish)
2. Kurma (The Tortoise)
3. Varaha (The Boar)
4. Narasimha (The Lion Man)
5. Vamana (The Dwarf)
6. Parashurama (The Lumberjack)
10. Kalki (The Horseman)
Lakshmi on Her Beloved's Heart: When Vishnu came to earth as the celibate dwarf, Vamana, he wore Lakshmi on his breast or breastplate and is said to have hidden her from view.
As John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff explain in Devi: Goddesses of India, "The Lord covered his breast with a shawl, to hide Sri, who is inseparable from him." They write, "Sri is always with him as an attribute. She is the Goddess of all and the beloved one of the Lord. With him, she protects devotees as his partner in dharma. It is seen by those who have the eyes of scripture that the Lord is always with his wife."
Radha: As the Gopi cowherdess Radha, Lakshmi had her shot at love that was truly divine.
She is a model of intense religious devotion but also experiences a love that crosses over into the realm of untold ecstasy. Having once experienced a taste of divine love with the avatar Krishna, she could not be without him. Some texts say they both left their families in that lifetime to be together. All the Gopis loved the playful cowherd flute player, Krishna, but Radha was his most beloved devotee and spiritual consort. They are considered lovers in the highest and most sublime ways. Their love is recalled in epic poetry, such as the twelfth-century love poem Gita Govinda. In this rendition of their love, Radha is human, and Krishna is divine, and she represents the longing of the human soul for union with the divine. Their union symbolizes salvation.
Sita: The story of Sita and her husband, Prince Rama, is told in the Ramayana, a three-thousand-year-old legendary religious epic that is told and enacted time and time again. There was a great war, and she followed her husband into exile, only to be kidnapped by the demon king Ravana. She is imprisoned for a long period before she is finally freed, but once her husband finds her, she must, again, prove her purity. Sita is Hinduism's historical model of the perfect wife, and so Lakshmi is seen as a perfect wife.
Tridevi and Trimurti: Lakshmi again stands with Vishnu in his role as one of the three forms of God, known as the Trimurti. This group is comprised of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. They represent the creator, the preserver, and the destroyer. Sometimes they combine forces into a union of superpowers when they conjoin with the feminine power of their consorts Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati/Durga, a group also known as the Tridevi