In Hinduism, Adi Lakshmi is one of the manifestations of Goddess Lakshmi. She is the supreme mother goddess and therefore she is also known as Adi Shakti and she existed before everything else. She is beyond description and understanding. She is the womb that contains all life. Adi Lakshmi is an attempt by the human mind to give a form to the formless Brahman – the Supreme Being – in Hindu religion.
The concept of Adi Lakshmi tries to solve the puzzle of creation. It is one among the numerous attempts made by ancient seers to get the concept of Brahman to common man through symbolism. Adi Lakshmi is the womb in which birth and death takes place but she remains above it. She is unfathomable and beyond imagination of human mind.
There are numerous references to Adi Lakshmi in the Puranas. It is stated that the three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas – emerged from her. Sattva (harmony) was represented as Goddess Saraswati, Rajas (Agitation) as Maha Lakshmi and Tamas (inertia) as Maha Kali.
Adi Lakshmi is also part of the eight Lakshmis (Ashtalakshmi).
In Brahmanda Purana there is a further development of the womb concept associated with Adi Lakshmi. It is suggested that three eggs (life symbol) emerged from her.
The first egg gave rise to Vishnu and Ambika, the second to Brahma and Lakshmi and the third to Shiva and Saraswathi.
Adi Lakshmi then gave Ambika in marriage to Shiva, Saraswathi to Brahma and Lakshmi to Vishnu. Creation started with these three couples.
Adi Lakshmi is represented with several arms in some miniature painting. Her form depends on the understanding that the artist has of the concept. Sometimes she is depicted as sitting on a lotus and has four arms. It must be noted here that human mind is trying to give a form to that which is beyond his/her perception.