Mahalaxmi Vrata: Sacrificing Home and Work

The intent (Vrata) of action defines when it is fulfilled: the vrtrahatha, for example, is the strike, the blow in a battle that brings final ending to the conflict, restoring justice, and success - the ending of hostilities (that was the intention with which opposition was met with opposition).  It is best understood in this context: a Vrata is an act of abstinence which is conducive to continence. It is the moment when further action may be abstained from without violating duty; as such it is an act of self-restraint, of consciously recognizing there is no need to do more.

This does not mean that action stops: after a battle, Sraddha must be given to friends and enemies alike - it is insufficient to ignite the sacrificial fire and lay the sacrifice upon it, the sacrifice must be consumed.  Words must be finished before it may be said they are "well spoken!" ("Svaha!").  It is insufficient to arrive at the destination to complete the Tirtha, it must be departed from.  But Vrata is the moment when success is assured, and the duty of completing the action is all that remains.

The Laxmi Vrata welcomes Laxmi into a place, into a work; Laxmi would not arrive there if it was not already "Hers."  "Her Home," "Her Work," is presented to Laxmi.  It is a profoundly personal practice, the method of which depends on the Vrata, the purpose, to be achieved.

It is easy to become attached to our home and our work, either thinking it belongs to ourselves, or to those we made for.  This can cause considerable distress.  Sacrificing it is difficult, but the rewards of detachment are numerous.

Begin by reciting the names of Laxmi: this will facilitate your understanding of Laxmi.  Of course, no one knows every manifestation ever made, but focus at first on the ones easiest for you to comprehend and remember. Some remember the radiant Sita... or Radha dancing for an eternity with Krishna.  But others might find it easier to hear Laxmi in their mind as a song, or see Laxmi as a color - or in the very tangible form of precious metals, or their own wallet.

Eventually, you will understand that you can only understand Laxmi in terms of your own personal experience and identity, and will see Laxmi in your own form: your ability to perceive and understand is limited.  Your home and/or work, what you are sacrificing, was yours - and you are giving it up. But it was always Laxmi's, even when it was yours.  Understand that your love of home and work manifested Laxmi, the energy required to give those forms purpose and action.  Their purpose, your purpose, was to bring you closer to understanding Laxmi - and you have succeeded.

Try to understand that Shakti, the energy without form, has already manifested form into motion and action.  Complete the sacrifice: continue your homemaking, your working.