Achara Prathamo Dharma

Swami Sri Hariprasad

A devotee had asked why we should wash our hands after we touch a broom. To many people it is inexplicable why orthodox people should insist on this.

The reason is that the broom is used for purposes that are not wholly auspicious. Sweeping is not an inauspicious act as we are performing an action that removes evil, bringing in Lakshmi and driving out Alakshmi. Our fingers and hands are the way through which shakthi emanates from our bodies. If they are affected with Alakshmi, we will not be able to do anything positive. Or even if we were to do anything positive especially religious rites, then the effect would be marred by the bad energy that we still are in contact with.

Many people think that Alakshmi is something that comes in to our lives from outside, bringing us evil. But it is those very parts of our lives which were once auspicious that have through the passage of time deteriorated. Dust is sand. Sand is what we grow food from. Yet the two are different. Sri Bhagavan says I am the sweet smell of the earth. But sand is unceremoniously thrown out when it becomes dust. This is because it has no life; no tejas. The creative spark in it, which fosters life and creation, has left it. Dust creates rust; anything that has dust on it gets spoilt. This is because that tejas which gives life and growth has left it.

When food is fresh, well cooked and clean, it then possesses tejas, Lakshmi resides in it. After some time the tejas leaves it, Lakshmi leaves it and then the food becomes devoid of goodness and Alakshmi enters it. Then the food is really dangerous and causes ill health.

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When the Milky Ocean was churned by the Devas and Asuras, various beings came out of it. The Goddess Lakshmi came out of it and was received by Sri Bhagavan as His consort. But before that Jyeshta Alakshmi, appeared. Since she is elder she is known as Jyeshta, the elder. This is because all things that degenerate due to evil in us, wrong use andlast but not least, time were once sparkling sources of Lakshmi. For these reasons Lakshmi has left it and it has degenerated. But it was the first form and so is elder.

Lakshmi is the tejas, which is the basis of life, and when it has left, it becomes Alakshmi. A harmless desire that is unopposed to Dharma is a form of Lakshmi, but when that desire is obstructed and the mind gets filled with egotistic anger, then that is a form of Alakshmi and a person under the influence of Alakshmi can do any adharma. 

Self respect especially that form of self respect which makes us feel that we cannot and must not do any evil act which could bring disrepute on ourselves, on our families, community or country is Lakshmi. Egotism, arrogance ad an attitude of disdain towards other beings is a form of Alakshmi and quickly brings ruin. Upbraiding Jarasandha for his evil act in corralling more than ninety kings like animals, Sri Bhagavan warned him, ”Don’t despise others, O King!” But Jarasandha continued his arrogant attitude and met his death at the hands of Bhima. 

Contentment is a form of Lakshmi. It is a great blessing of God’s to be able to have as much as we need and not covet another person’s property or to yearn for more. Alakshmi makes us indifferent, lazy and unwilling to make the basic efforts towards success and yet makes us yearn for the benefits of success. Lakshmi makes us work and to forget about the fruits of action, Alakshmi makes us lazy but yearn for success and other results of action.

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 For Laksmi to live with us forever, we must have certain mental qualities. Sri Sathguru says: “Humility, calmness, cleanliness, order, ability to recognize one’s mistakes and ask for help, thrift, respect for objects, lack of selfish attachment to position and possessions are the signs of the presence of Sri Lakshmi. You can do a hundred Sri Suktha homams but if these signs are not present, Sri Lakshmi will not be there.”

Inside us in every cell of our bodies, Sri Bhagavan and Sri Lakshmi reside, and as we develop these qualities in us, Their Presence in our bodies and our minds becomes larger. Then a transformation takes place in us, should we concentrate on anything worldly we will be able to deal with it swiftly and effectively and then our minds will immediately return to Sri Bhagavan’s Feet without any conscious effort.

May we all with Sri Sathguru’s Grace develop the qualities that will make Sri Lakshmi reside in us is our prayer!

Sri Sathguru arpanam asthu!