A stone’s throw away : a short distance; a relatively short distance
Not the same as Jewish Israeli stone throwing
Two Belief Systems : Pattar Mar Ya Pattar Mat ? Jamala ya Jamela Ghar ?
Alakshmi-The Goddess of Misfortune, Strife, Poverty, Bad Luck, In-auspiciousness and Extreme Ugliness of Both External and Internal Nature. The elder sister and the opposite of Goddess Lakshmi.
She emerged from the churning of the ocean of milk with ‘halahal’ or poison, while Lakshmi emerged with the ‘amrit’ or nectar. Lakshmi was born from radiance while Alakshmi was born from the darkness.
Alakshmi is depicted as an old, haggard, dirty, messy woman riding a donkey. Her skin is dark, leathery and shrivelled. Her hair is dishevelled and matted, full of dirt and grime. She dwells on ego, vanity, and selfish mindset.
She co-exist with Lakshmi. Where there is Lakshmi, there is Alakshmi. She is invisible in existence and always near Lakshmi in the form of an owl.
Alakshmi brings, discord, strife, jealousy, malice and hardship where ever she goes. Proximity to her gives rise to lack of knowledge, vision and positive thinking. She divides families and destroys wealth. She plants distrust and misunderstanding among family members, friends and relatives.
Some who allow Alakshmi to live in their lives and propagate her principals are people who are extremely selfish. They have wealth but live in poverty. They never seem to have enough since they have a beggars mindset. They can sit on a pile of Gold yet remain stingy.
Their miserliness makes them squander their wealth on all the wrong people, wrong projects and purpose. They have highly inflated egos and think they always know best. They wonder how other people have so much to spend and consider every expenditure extravagant and unnecessary. They find it easy to take the path of ‘ADHARMA’ OR Sin.
Alakshmi signifies that when one is blessed with Lakshmi or wealth, one should not become arrogant, evil, or full of pride but strive to feel thankful and show gratitude. Only this thinking will double Lakshmi and keep Alakshmi at bay.
A Traders Tale:
Once Goddess Lakshmi visited a trader. He was extremely happy to see her and welcomed her in his home. However, he was soon dismayed to see that behind the radient goddess followed her extremely ugly sister, Alakshmi.
The trader was smart. He quickly regained his wit and bowed to both the goddesses with respect. He then uttered that Lakshmi looks beautiful as she enters a home and Alakshmi looks beautiful as she leaves a home. In saying so, Lakshmi or wealth and splendour moved with him to his home while, misfortune, dischord, and poverty moved away from his home.
Alakshmi can be kept at bay by Goddess Swarsati who represents sound knowledge and good judgement. Everyone knows that ‘wealth corrupts’ yet we need wealth and riches for nearly every aspect of our lives. It is thus very important to have a sound understanding of goddess Alakshmi. Be aware of her destructive nature and know that caution and awareness are one’s only solution to preserving wealth.
Goddess Swarsati stays hidden on Vishnu’s tounge and through knowledge keeps him steadfast on the path of ‘Dharma’ or righteousness. He is never swayed by the cunning tricks of Alakshmi and so Ma Lakshmi never leaves his side – ever.
Acknowledge Alakshmi as she accompanies Lakshmi everywhere, she is the negative energy or force that silently comes with rising wealth. Careful to not let riches corrupt as auspicious wealth has invisible seeds of sinful pride, arrogance, sloth, surrounding it.
Ritually, one keeps sweets in the house for Lakshmi while lemons and chillies are kept outside the house for Alakshmi. Symbolically, Lakshmi is welcomed through the decorated main front door and Alakshmi is seen off through the little back door. Practice cleanliness, discipline, selflessness, and hardwork. Further, keeping Swarasati (sound knowledge and judgement) awake in one’s heart and mind will protect and grow one’s wealth.
Once a cat named Fidget was caught in a hunter’s net. A mouse named Fidelity used to live in a nearby hole. Fidelity seeing Fidget in the net started playing around Fidget. Soon a mongoose named Okane came there. He wanted to kill Fidelity. As he lifted his head, he saw an owl named Diamond sitting on a tree trying to catch him. Okane went very near to Fidget’s net to save himself. Fidelity thought “When the hunter takes away Fidget, Okane will not spare me and Diamond is there to enjoy both of us.”
Fidelity went to the Fidget and said, “I can cut the net if you promise to save my life from the Okane and Diamond.” Fidget agreed. Fidelity started cutting the net slowly and freed Fidget, only when the hunter was just near Fidget. Fidget took to heels and so ran Okane too. Diamond was much disappointed to see even Fidelity running away to safety.
A few days later, Fidget being hungry, went to the hole of Fidelity and requested him to come out for a game. Fidelity replied, “I sought friendship and saved you to save my life.” Now you can go home.
Pick a MORAL :
The Mouse : Jail philosophy shows the mouse Fidelity is also known as Mooshika. The term ‘Mushika’ is derived from the Sanskrit root, ‘mush’, which means, ‘to steal’. The rat is generally a destructive creature if not controlled. It robs people of crops and food. In other words, this is a destructive pest that causes a lot of trouble.
In philosophical terms, the human mind tends to be wavering, selfish and full of desires. Many of us do not hesitate to achieve our goals even if it means hurting someone. The Mooshika here is the vighna or obstacles created by our own negative mindset and thought patterns.
Additionally, our thoughts multiply multifold when left uncontrolled. Like mice attacking in the night, they stealthily attack us in the darkness of our ignorance. Ganesh seated on the mouse signifies His crushing negative thoughts when surrendering our lives to Him. Our mind is extremely fickle and tends to run around, leaving us out of control of it! Achieving control is a sign of great wisdom. The mouse at Ganesha’s feet signifies that He can bring our minds under his control and bestow grace and plentitude on us.
The mouse or mooshikam represents wisdom, talent and intelligence. It symbolizes minute investigation of a cryptic subject. A mouse leads a clandestine life below the ground. Thus it is also a symbol of ignorance that is dominant in darkness and fears light and knowledge. As the vehicle of Ganesha, a mouse teaches us to remain always on alert and illuminate our inner-self with the light of knowledge.
Both Ganesha and the Mooshak love modaka, a sweet dish. Another interpretation says that the mouse (Mushika or Akhu) represents the ego, the mind with all of its desires, and the pride of the individual. Ganesha, riding atop the mouse, becomes the master of these tendencies, indicating the power that the intellect and the discriminative faculties have over the mind. Moreover, the mouse (extremely voracious by nature) is often depicted next to a plate of sweets with his eyes turned toward Ganesha while he tightly holds on to a morsel of food between his paws, as if expecting an order from Ganesha. This represents the mind which has been completely subordinated to the superior faculty of the intellect, the mind under strict supervision, which fixes Ganesha and does not approach the food unless it has permission
The Owl : The goddess Lakshmi and The goddess Athena both had an owl as their emblematic familiar, but the meanings invested in the owls by the two different belief systems are not the same, nor are the two goddesses themselves similar, despite their mutual identification with owls.
Lakshmi’s owl is a warning against distrust and isolationism, even selfishness. Athena, though also a goddess of prosperity, is primarily the goddess of wisdom, and her owl symbolizes secret knowledge and scholarship.
Each totem or vahana, has innumerable ineffable teachings, insights and spiritual wisdom; comparative analysis yields benefit, though knowledge and understanding is not served by collapsing their qualities into homogenous signification.
The Cat : A folk-tale about Shashthi tells of the youngest of seven daughters-in-law in a prosperous household who was a glutton that used to secretly steal food and then blame a black cat, which was thrashed as punishment. The black cat happened to be the vahana (mount) of Shashthi and complained about the mistreatment to the goddess, who pledged to avenge it. When the youngest daughter-in-law gave birth to a son, the cat stole the child in the night and gave it to the goddess, and did the same for her next six sons. The neighbours accused the young mother of carelessness and began to believe she might be a witch who ate her own children. Finally, when a daughter was born, the young mother decided to remain awake the whole night to resolve the mystery. She managed to catch the cat in the act of robbery and wounded it with her bracelet, but the cat escaped with the child, leaving a trail of blood. The mother followed this trail to the abode of Shashthi. There she saw her sons playing around Shashthi as the goddess held the mother’s infant daughter in her arms. Shashthi explained the reason for the mother’s ordeal and told her to ask pardon of the cat. The mother asked the cat’s pardon, which was granted, and then she promised the goddess that she would offer a dedication which would come to be known as the Jamai-Shasthi Vrata. The mother returned home with her children and spread the word of the goddess, who blessed her family with children, wealth and happiness
On another account of the story, the cat not only stole her six children, but also ate them. But when the seventh child was born, the mother caught the cat fleeing with her child and followed it but tripped in middle of the chase and fainted. The cat took the infant to Shashthi’s abode, where she told the goddess the whole tale of her insult. The benign goddess, however, was annoyed with the cat and rushed to the aid of the mother. The goddess explained the reason of her suffering, and after the mother had begged the cat for forgiveness and had sworn to worship Shashthi on anointed days, all seven of her children were returned to her.
(CC) 2017 Tysilyn Fernandez