Gaja Lakshmi or the Elephant Lakshmi was born out of the churning of the ocean of the consciousness. This form of Lakshmi comes from the story Samudra Manthan and she is known as the daughter of the ocean. She is both the benefactor and defender of wealth, prosperity, grace, abundance and nobility. Gaja Lakshmi sits on a lotus with two elephants by her sides who bathe her with water pots, she wears red and holds two lotuses in her upper two arms, while her lower two arms are in the abhaya (gesture of reassurance) and varada (giving) mudras.
The Myth of the Samudra Manthan begins with Indra being offered a garland by a great sage. Indra ignored this gesture and placed the garland on the tusk of his elephant, who eventually trampled on it. The sage became furious and cursed Indra and the other Gods saying they would eventually lose their powers. This began to happen and the Gods began to lose their battles against the demons. Indra ran to Vishnu for help.
Vishnu suggested that the Gods could churn the ocean of consciousness to gain the nectar of immortality and regain their power. This was a huge task however and they would need the help of the demons. They agreed to work together.
Shiva offered Mount Mandara as the churning stick and Vishnu’s form as Kurma the tortoise became the back on which the churning could rest so that the entire universe would not rip apart from the churning. Shiva’s serpent Vasuki volunteered himself as the turning rod so that the pole (Mount Mandara) could be pulled from side to side. The churning of the ocean had begun.
As the churning began, the first thing to erupt from the ocean of consciousness was a deadly poison that could destroy all of creation. Shiva swallowed the blue liquid and the churning continued.
Many wondrous things came out of the churning of the ocean of consciousness, Chandra (the moon), an elephant, precious stones, a magical tree, a wish-fulfilling cow, but the most amazing thing of all was a Lakshmi, the Goddess of Abundance. Nobody had seen anything as beautiful as Lakshmi before. Everybody forgot their troubles in her presence. Lakshmi promised abundance and material wealth, but she also promised children and love.
We have told this story several times before on Namaste Yoga!
In episode 149 on How Shiva got his Blue Throat
Namaste Yoga 27 on Lakshmi the Goddess of Abundance and Beauty
Today I want to focus on the theme of elephants that come up throughout this story.
Earlier this week I read the most beautiful story told by Eknath Eswaran of a man looking for people living the teachings of Buddha the way one follows the tracks of animals in a jungle. He went around talking to people everywhere and whenever he found a person whose life had been transformed he would exclaim, “Those are the tracks of a really big elephant!”
Today as you listen to that story, in that moment, can you reach within to an inner knowing and confirm your life leaves the tracks of a really big elephant? How have the teachings of yoga have transformed your life in a big elephant track kind of way? In this moment, can you know that for yourself? Can you find the tracks of the really big elephant in your life?
In today’s class we will focus on grounding through your legs and feet and opening your heart to create big elephant tracks in your life.
Props Needed: Yoga Block, Yoga Strap
Yoga Asanas/Yoga Postures: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana/bridge pose, Jathara Parivartanasana/reclined twist, Vasisthasana/side plank, Camatkarasana/Wild Thing Pose, Parsvottanasana/Standing Forward Folding Triangle/Pyramid Pose, Ardha Chandrasana/Side bend, Anuvittasana/Back Bend, Vrksasana/Tree pose, lotus mudra, Pavritta Prasarita Padottanasana/Wide legged Standing Forward Fold, Adho Mukha Svanasana/Down dog up dog, Urdhva Muhka Svanasana/Upward Facing Dog, Balasana/child’s pose, Jnana Mudra, Savasana/Corpse Pose