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Lakshmi, 'goddess who leads to one's lakshya or goal', also known as Sri and Akshara (lit. 'Imperishable'), is one of the principle goddesses in Hinduism. She is the goddess of wealth, fortune, love, beauty, Maya (Yogamaya, Mahamaya, Vishnumaya), joy and prosperity. Lakshmi is considered as prakriti and Vishnu as purusha within Vaishnavism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism. She is the Mother goddess in Hinduism, and has many attributes and aspects. Along with Parvati and Saraswati, she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses (Tridevi).
Lakshmi is both the wife and divine energy (shakti) of the Hindu god Vishnu, who according to Vaishnavism is the protector, the destroyer and regenerator of the universe and all life. Lakshmi as prakriti (Mahalakshmi) is identified with three forms, Sri, Bhu and Durga and assist Lord Vishnu (purusha) during the creation , sustenance , and destruction of the entire universe. There are eight prominent manifestations of Lakshmi which symbolizes the eight sources of wealth which governs the life of all human beings known as the Ashta Lakshmi. In each manifestation she fulfills certain necessities and desires of human beings.
Whenever Vishnu descended on the earth as an avatar, Lakshmi accompanied him as wife, assuming forms appropriate to these avatars. Dashavatara are the ten primary avataras (incarnations) of Vishnu. Out of the ten, in his most important avatars Rama and Krishna, Lakshmi descended as Sita and Rukmini (according to Vishnu Purana).
Lakshmi is depicted in Indian art as an elegantly dressed, prosperity-showering golden-colored woman with an owl as her vehicle, signifying the importance of economic activity in maintenance of life, her ability to move, work and prevail in confusing darkness. She typically stands or sits like a yogini on a lotus pedestal, while holding a lotus in her hand, symbolizing fortune, self-knowledge, and spiritual liberation.
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