Friday 8 March 2019

Alakshmirme or Lakshmirme ? Shri Suktam Clarification

Shri Suktam is a portion of the Vedas attributed to the aspect of wealth and the expression of Lakshmi.

A popular to-date confusion that persists in the recitation of this hymn is in regards to the pronunciation of the verse : 

''Taam Padminiim-iim Sharannam-Aham Prapadye-[A]lakshmiir-Me Nashyataam Tvaam Vrnne''

Meaning: I take Refuge at Her Feet, Who Abides in the Lotus; By Her Grace, let the Alakshmi (in the form of Evil, Distress and Poverty) within and without be destroyed

Authentic scripts display this verse as ' prapadye'lakshamirme'.This verse talks about driving away 'alakshmi' ( opposite of lakshmi ).If we recite it as lakshamirme,we are actually requesting 'lakshmi' to be driven away! 

Then, why does the Vedas guide us to pronounce it as 'lakshamirme' at all ? In fact, many have chosen to deviate from this pronunciation and rather chant it as 'alakshmirme'.

Shri Suktam by my Whatsapp Veda Learner Smt Kavita

Understanding Vedas

To reiterate, the utmost importance in Veda recitation is the svaras ( the articulation ) and not pronunciation.The reason simply being that Vedas constitute cosmic sound ( shabda-brahman ) and sound energy is the basis to Vedas.

Since Suktams have their origin from Rig Veda,they are bounded to Chandas ( metre - a verse is chanted in a particular length ) .

The Chandah ( metre ) is the backbone on which the sounds of the Vedas with their svaras are laid upon. A metre is so important because it gives shape to all the intonations which are merely represented by the sounds - which gives rise to pronunciation.

If you notice the script, you find a symbol ( ) before 'lakshmirme'

This is denoted as an apostrophe in the English transliteration. Take note of the apostrophe between prapadye and lakshamirme in the script above.

This is called the 'Avagraha'.This comes under the sandhi rules of Veda recitation. In this rule of Avagraha, a particular word loses its first vowel.

Example :

 शिवोऽहम्  = Śivo’ham 

We generally pronounce this sound as 'Shivoham'.However, it is actually Śivaḥ aham - Shivah Aham ( I am Shiva ), turned Shivoham due to the presence of Avagraha. Take note of the apostrophe between S'ivo and ham in the English transliteration given above.

Why the cut? 

This is usually done to preserve the length of a particular verse ( Chandas ).

The particular verse of Shri Suktam where lakshmirme comes is part of Tristubh Chandah.

It comprises 11 syllables and 4 padas.If the word is pronounced as 'alakshmir',then it is not in accordance with the Triṣṭubh Chandah.The metre of this verse is preserved only if it is pronounced as 'lakshmirme'.It is better explained if we see the 'A' vowel being replaced by an Avagraha rather than a blatant omission. The meaning implied is unchanged - it still means that we request alakshmi to be driven away.

The Avagraha comes in many parts of the Vedas. Those who recite Chamakam will find its presence in many parts throughout the chapters.

However, I believe that this particular avagraha in Shri Suktam is being popularised simply because wealth is a concern to many and linking the pronunciation to its meaning doesn't seem pleasant in this particular example.

As said earlier, Vedas work according to sound energy ( governed by intonations ).The meanings are just a reflection which carry many dimensions of understanding to it.

Chamakam - where arkashca is pronounced as rkascha due to Avagraha
So the correct way to chant it is actually 'lakshmirme'.You may hear recitations where it is chanted as 'alakshmirme'.In this case,they are not following the sandhi rules.

Allow Vedas to express themselves as how they are rather than manipulating them to suit our psychological comfort.

Also Read :

(1) Shri Suktam - The Sound Form of Lakshmi


  1. Good write up. Just trying to understand the avagraha rule, how would have it been if it were “lakshmirme” in real. If this is only applicable for vowels (for eg ‘A’lakshmirme) how do we distinguish between lakshmirme vs alakshmirme.

    1. The script would have a avagraha symbol.
      If oral teaching is done, the individual words will be recited.. so in teaching it will be alakshmirme.

  2. Thank you! Well explained. I was looking for this clarification 🙏🙏🙏

  3. When you say the word in 1 breath then u don't pronounce a . But when u inhale u need to say alakhmirme

  4. I have this doubt on this explanation which is being used every where for the Avagraha Sandhi chanting. 1. Vedham did NOT originate in written form but it was experienced by the Rishi's and they gave it in Sound form. 2. Devanagri Script or any other language script is USED to denote a sound. So in essence a script is used to denote the existence of the SOUND and not the ABSENCE of the sound. Because you just leave a space between the words to denote the absence - this is how it works in Sanskrit too. So the presence of the Avagraha script should be an indication for the presence of a sound which is NOT written due to Sandhi rules but the SOUND can't disappear. 3. The Rishis gave the Chandas for each mantra so that the syllables are NOT lost. 4. Taking your example of SriSuktham - the Alakshmir - verse. It is of Trishtubh Chandas that means a total of 44 syllables have to be recited. चन्द्रां -2प्रभासां - 3 यशसा -3 ज्वलन्तीं -3 श्रियं -2 लोके -2 देवजुुुष्टामुदाराम् - 7 =22
    तां - 1 पद्मिनीमीं -4 शरणमहं -5प्रपद्येऽलक्ष्मीर्मे -6 नश्यतां - 3त्वां -1 वृणे -2 = 21 - if you don't say the A sound you get only 21 syllables in the verse. How do you explain this contradiction? The first and foremost thing we have to take is the premise that it is a sound - then where did that sound disappear because we are NOT writing when we chant, we are supposed to utter those syllables as per the chandas rules. If you can get an explanation for this, it would be helpful.

    1. Avagraha sandhi does not mean the vowel disappears, it just means it is not explicitly recited. The sages who gave the manual of sandhi know the mastery of sound and the rules proposed are in tandem to preservation of the crude sound structure of the Vedas.

    2. Thanks for replying, however I have figured out the issue, it is basic elementary addition error on my part, the second verse is also adding to 22 syllables without अ in अलक्षमीर्मे. If अ is recited then the trishtup chandas count is exceeded hence it is perfectly following the chandas rule and I have jumped the gun.