Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the origins of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, and of the traditions that have built around her for over 3,000 years. According to the creation story of the Puranas, she came to existence in the churning of the ocean of milk. Her prominent status grew alongside other goddesses in the mainly male world of the Vedas, as female deities came to be seen as the Shakti, the energy of the gods, without which they would be powerless. Lakshmi came to represent the qualities of blessing, prosperity, fertility, beauty and good fortune and, more recently, political order, and she has a significant role in Diwali, one of the most important of the Hindu festivals.


Jessica Frazier
Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Kent
Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies at the University of Oxford

Jacqueline Suthren-Hirst
Senior Lecturer in South Asian Studies at the University of Manchester


Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad
Professor of Comparative Religion and Philosophy at Lancaster University

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Release date:

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 6 Oct 2016 21:30


Jessica Frazier at the University of Kent

Jacqueline Suthren Hirst at the University of Manchester

Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad at Lancaster University

‘The ancient story of the goddess Lakshmi: bestower of power, wealth and sovereignty’ by Devdutt Pattanaik, from Lakshmi: The Goddess of Wealth and Fortune (Vakils Feffer & Simons, 2002)

Lakshmi – Wikipedia



Wendy Doniger, Hindu Myths (Penguin, 2004)

Lynn Foulston and Stuart Abbott, Hindu Goddesses: Beliefs and Practices (Sussex Academic Press, 2009)

David Kinsley, The Goddesses’ Mirror: Visions of the Divine from East and West (State University of New York Press, 1988)

Pratap Kumar, The Goddess Lakshmi in South Indian Vaishnavism (Oxford University Press, 2000)

Sree Padma, Vicissitudes of the Goddess: Reconstructions of the Gramadevata in India’s Religious Traditions (Oxford University Press, 2013)

Devdutt Pattanaik, Lakshmi: The Goddess of Wealth and Fortune: An Introduction (Vakils Feffer & Simons, 2002)

Constantina Rhodes, Invoking Lakshmi: The Goddess of Wealth in Song and Ceremony (State University of New York Press, 2010)

John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff, Devi: Goddesses of India (University of California Press, 1996)



Role Contributor
PresenterMelvyn Bragg
Interviewed GuestJessica Frazier
Interviewed GuestJacqueline Suthren-Hirst
Interviewed GuestChakravarthi Ram-Prasad
ProducerSimon Tillotson

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