ॐ ॥ हिरण्यवर्णां हरिणीं सुवर्णरजतस्ररजाम्।
चन्द्रां हिरण्मयीं लक्ष्मीम् जातवेदो म आवह॥ १
Om || hiraṇyavarṇāṁ hariṇīṁ suvarṇarajatasrarajām |
candrāṁ hiraṇmayīṁ lakṣmīm jātavedo ma āvaha || 1
Meaning: O! Agni Deva! Please bring me (the Grace of) the one with golden complexion, who is capable of destroying my sins, who appears with gold and silver necklaces, who resembles like the full moon and whose very nature is gold.
Notes: Instead of invoking Mahālakṣmī, Lord Agni is invoked and he is requested to bring in Her Grace. This indicates that Śrī Sūktam should be performed as homa (the act of making an oblation to the Devas or gods by casting clarified butter into the fire) rather than verbally chanting it, to derive its full benefits.
Why Agni is invoked? There are several reasons for this. Agni is the carrier of oblations to Gods in higher planes. He also brings back the Grace of Gods, back to the performer of homa. Agni also ensures that the respective Gods or Goddesses manifest in the body of the one, who performs oblations. Agni represents truth, auspiciousness, and happiness. Rig Veda begins by adoring Agni with this hymn.
अग्निमीळे पुरुहितं यज्ञस्य देवमृत्विजम्।
agnimīḻe puruhitaṁ yajñasya devamṛtvijam |
hotāraṁ ratnadhātamam ||
Meaning: O Agni! I adore you (addressing to the fire in homa pit). You are God (because he is capable of manifesting God in the body and mind of the one who performs oblations) and also a priest (who invokes Gods in the fire pit). You bring in happiness and ecstasy.
Agni is adored in the first verse of Śrī Sūktam as jātaveda, which means “one who knows about all entities which are born. Agni, from his seat in the heart (referring to the Soul within; in Vedic period, the concept of Brahman was not there) is aware of the entire history of persons in all their previous births, and guides individuals incessantly.” Based upon this deliberation on Agni, it goes without saying that Śrī Sūktam should be performed as homa.
Hiraṇya varṇāṁ means that She is appearing like gold, which subtly conveys that She is Goddess of wealth. It is also important to note that Upaniṣad-s describe Brahman with golden hue. Probably, She is addressed here as saguṇabrahman (as saguṇabrahman reflects the Light of Brahman).
Hariṇīṁ means many things such as a female deer, a kind of jasmine flower with golden hue, a beautiful woman, golden image, etc. It also means mother, which could mean that She is the Mother of the universe. Hari refers to Viṣṇu. It also refers to Nature. Īṁ is kāmakalā, the creative aspect of the Divine. Viṣṇu is Puruṣa and His Consort is His Vimarśa (reflection of His Light), from which everything originated in Prakṛti. This also confirms that She is the Mother of the universe.
suvarṇa rajata srarajām - suvarṇa means gold; rajata means silver; sraja means garland. She is wearing garlands (necklace) made up of gold and silver. Her grandeur and beauty is conveyed with two costly precious metals.
candrāṁ refers to the moon. She is appearing like a moon. Moon also represents mind or tranquillity of mind. Moon is also used to describe a beautiful woman – candra vadana.
hiraṇmayīṁ - She has golden complexion. This fact is repeated to emphasise Her golden complexion.
lakṣmīm – She is Lakṣmī or Śrī, who is represented by the most auspicious bīja śrīṁ (श्रीं). This is known as Lakṣmī bīja. Apart from causing auspiciousness, this bīja produces enough solar energy within the body and makes the mind calm and tranquil. श्रीं (śrīṁ) consists of three letters śa, ra and ī and nāda and bindu. Śa refers to Goddess of wealth Lakṣmī and ra is wealth itself, Ī refers to satisfaction, nāda is apara (having nothing beyond or after, having no rival or superior) and bindu dispels sorrow. Thus, this bīja not only gives Liberation, but also gives material prosperity, peace of mind and satisfaction in life.
Jātaveda – discussed in the beginning itself.
ma āvaha – ma refers to the one who does the homa (verbal chanting can also be taken into account; however between the homa and verbal chanting, homa is more auspicious). Āvaha means ‘make Her come to me’ Its literal meaning is bringing, producing. This is a prayer to Lord Agni with a request to make Lakṣmī manifest in the body and mind of the seeker. It is implied that by doing so, She showers Her Grace on the seeker and gives him riches, auspiciousness, etc.