Hindu Mythology: Lakshmi and the Clever Washerwoman

Updated on February 4, 2017
'Goddess Lakshmi', Raja Ravi Varma, 1896
'Goddess Lakshmi', Raja Ravi Varma, 1896 | Source

Diwali, or the autumn festival of lights, is a festival of particular importance to the Hindu faith. Although the details may very significantly, from one region of India to the next, in its most common from, the festival is a celebration held in honour of the Lakshmi, the benevolent goddess of good fortune, wealth, and prosperity. On the night of the festival, it is customary to light lamps outside of the home, in the hope of attracting the attention of the goddess.

As Diwali approached one year long ago, the King of a realm in the north of India gave his wife a fine necklace of pearls as a gift. The Queen was delighted with the gift, naturally. It was, after all, a particularly beautiful necklace. She vowed to wear it at all times, only removing it when she absolutely must.

The Queen also happened to enjoy regular trips to a nearby stream to swim in the cool water on hot days, and, of course, she could not swim while wearing something so lovely and precious. It was on once such visit, with the necklace place with her other belongings on the shore while she swam, that a passing crow was attracted by the sight of sunlight glinting off of its pearls. Before anyone even had time to notice, the crow had swooped down to investigate and, taking hold of the necklace, promptly took flight, once more.

The Queen was devastated by this loss, and she demanded that the necklace be recovered, and returned to her, as soon as possible. Her husband, in response, did the only thing he could truly do. He put out word of a generous reward offered to anyone who should recover the necklace, and return it to the palace.

It seemed hopeless After all, who could possibly say how far the crow would have flown with the stolen necklace? Or, where it would finally land? By a stroke of good fortune, though, the Queen's necklace had not actually travelled far, at all. While flying over the poorest part of the city, the crow had dropped the necklace, and there, it was found by a poor washerwoman, as she worked.

The woman had never seen anything as lovely as this necklace before and, at first, she was completely at a loss regarding what should actually be done with it. She could sell it, of course, but it was more beautiful than any other piece of jewelry she had ever seen before, let alone possessed for herself. She could keep it, but it also looked valuable, and the price she could fetch for selling it was also enticing. It was as she pondered these options that the washerwoman heard of the King's reward, offering an amount that proved to be much higher than even her highest expectations.

With the necklace in hand, the washerwoman was quick to make the journey to the palace where she proudly presented the recovered necklace to the King and Queen.

Both husband and wife were, naturally, delighted to see the necklace returned so soon, and they were also impressed by the honesty of the poor washerwoman. Both very eager to see the poor washerwoman rewarded, they immediately called forward a servant to present her with a large purse filled with coins.

The washerwoman surprised them both by refusing the purse, though. She also refused every other reward that either the King or the Queen could think to offer. Finally, in desperation, the King invited the washerwoman to name her own reward. What she asked for struck them both as very strange.

With Diwali approaching, the washerwoman asked that the King should order that no-one be permitted to light a lantern in Lakshmi's honour. The King was surprised by this, yet, at the same time, he had never taken the festival of lights very seriously, anyway. So, in the end, he proved to be perfectly willing to grant what he saw as a small, and inconsequential, request.

And so, with the King's order in place, the streets of the city remained dark as night approached during that year's festival of lights. And so, when the Goddess Lakshmi reached the city, she found nothing but darkness. Not a single resident had bothered to light a lantern in her honour.

This angered her, naturally. But, at the same time, Lakshmi was a goddess of mercy and compassion, as well as good fortune, so her anger soon passed. While another deity may have chosen to inflict some manner of divine retribution in return for this slight, Lakshmi chose to simply leave, and to deny the people of this city her blessings.

Lakshmi was just about to do so, when she noticed that there was, in fact, a single light shining in the distance. It was a small light that flickered feebly, one that the goddess never would have noticed, were it not for the darkness that surrounded it. But, with no other option, Lakshmi made her way toward it, picking her way carefully through the darkened streets.

As Lakshmi arrived at the small house, located in what was clearly the poorest district of the city, she knocked at the door. Lakshmi was met by a washerwoman, the same one, of course, who had returned the Queen's necklace only days earlier.

The washerwoman offered to invite Lakshmi into her home, but only on the condition that the benevolent goddess should offer a blessing that would last for several generations. As the only person in the city who had bothered to light a lantern in her honour, Lakshmi found herself moved by the washerwoman's devotion, and, so, the goddess proved quiet eager to grant what she saw as a small, and inconsequential, request.

Lakshmi, of course, was true to her word. As she left the washerwoman's home, she blessed both the woman and her family. Thanks to the washerwoman's cleverness, her family enjoyed a supply of good fortune that seemed endless, for the next seven generations.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, letterpile.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)