For the past few days, I have been pondering on the concept of wealth as depicted by the eight manifestations of the Goddess Lakshmi. While Lakshmi is commonly depicted flanked by two elephants that represent her role as a matriarch and a provider of abundance; there are seven other aspects to the bounty that the Goddess of Wealth and Fortune can provide.
As I pondered on the meaning behind these depictions, I couldn’t help but think; quite comically no less, that nowhere does it say, “Get a day job, a side hustle, invest, save and either work till you die or aspire to retire early.”
Yesterday, I wrote about The Ageing Population. Why is this happening? While the academic answer is to say that fertility rates are low and that we’re not replacing ourselves; if I were to look at it through the lens of Ashta Lakshmi, I would conclude that we’ve perhaps put too much emphasis on other aspects of the Goddess instead.
Hindu theology holds that as spiritual beings having a material experience; we, too, have earthbound goals that we are meant to meet. One of them is having children, procreating and propagating the earth. Once upon a time, a large family with many children and grandchildren was an aspiration of many. Where did that aspiration go? Did it disappear into thin air? Do we simply not want to have a family anymore? Are we all going to be lone rangers forever?
When it comes to my generation and the generation before and after me, the answer may well be yes. But so much of that is because of societal conditioning. The Santana aspect of Lakshmi, the one that grants parents the desire to have a child–or for a sibling to have a companion–has grown weak. Having a family is no longer part of our life plan. It is no longer part of what we define as ‘wealth’.
But it is wealth. Children, for much of human history, have represented wealth.
Coming back to modern economics, when the so-called ‘replacement rate’ becomes low, our consumer base shrinks. The less people we have on this planet, the less creativity and creative solutions we have.
When we graduate from university, most of us have the same aspiration: get a job that pays the bills, preferably at a top notch company or institution. How many of us aspire to create a happy family? Once upon a time, it was a matter of duty in many cultures to do exactly that. Get married, have a family and so on.
Well, if it was your aspiration; but if you were asked to aspire to something else, let’s just say that it is never too late. For if the stories in the Old Testament are anything to go by, there’s no Motherhood more fulfilling than that of Mature Motherhood.