Wealth is an essential commodity in any society! Everyone seeks it for comfort and security. In brief, the capitalists have been right. However, there is an ugly face to capitalism. In other words, there is an ugly face to wealth itself. The Vedic texts remind us of a succinct distinction between two means to wealth. Lakshmi devi represents wealth which is pursued in a responsible way. On the other hand, Jyeshta, the elder sister of Lakshmi is the Devi of wealth from gambling and speculation. Does Jyeshta control speculative Capitalism today?
The Rishis convey an important distinction between the two Devis through the story of Jyeshta. The story of the churning of the milky ocean brings us several mini teachings. The Devas and their rivals, the Asuras, churned the legendary milky ocean for Amrita, the nectar of immortality. Initially, their efforts remained futile. Later, the ocean began to yield gifts; some nice and some terrible. One of the most terrifying gifts was the Poison capable of destroying all of existence. Another grotesque looking gift was Jyeshta Devi, the deity of speculative capitalism.
Jyeshta Devi and Lakshmi
The Devas and the Asuras vied for the desirable gifts, such as legendary flying horse, the flying elephant, rare gems, intoxicants and the wish fulfilling tree. However, they cringed when Jyeshta Devi arose. Surely, Jyeshta was both wise and sensitive. She sensed her reception to be cold. Lakshmi arose immediately after Jyeshta Devi. The whole world adored Lakshmi, the ruler of wealth.
A somewhat dejected Jyeshta Devi approached Shiva. Shiva had gladly accepted the poison which arose before her from the ocean. She wanted to ask him the purpose of her existence. Shiva blessed her to be a giver of boons. Immediately, she knew that she would share the rulership of wealth with her younger sister. She married the dreaded Shani (Saturn) who heralds the fruits of a person’s past Karmas. Their son Kuligan is a remover of Karmic obstacles.
Jyeshta Devi and Gamblers
In the past. Jyeshta Devi held a position of respect in Shiva temples. She is often depicted with a broom and two children in her hands. On the other hand, Lakshmi is always depicted holding a lotus in her hands. Jyeshta was the family deity of the Kings of the Pallava and Chola dynasties. Villagers too worshipped and sought her protection. Kings sought her help in keeping a check on speculative tendencies such as gambling in society. Villagers sought her help in keeping wicked cheats beyond the bounds of the village.
The worship tradition of Jyeshta Devi declined as new breeds of greedy rulers took over. As a result, only a few remembered the significance of honoring Jyeshta Devi. Yet, her domain of influence is huge today. After all, she rules over speculative capitalism.
The word Jyeshta means the first born. Jyeshta Devi was born before Lakshmi. Mooththa Devi refers to an elder sister in Tamil. Over time, this word became Moodevi. It is unfortunate that people fear Moodevi, of late. Wise men advice vigilance against negative tendencies linked to wealth.
An interesting paper on gambling in ancient India found its way to NIH (National Institute of Health) archive. Read it here. You may also like to read the posts – Strange Astronomy of the Three Nights of Devi, Sinivali and Raka