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Goddess Jyestha – Hindu Goddess of Misfortune

Goddess Jyestha is the elder sister of Goddess Lakshmi. She is the goddess of misfortune. The characteristics of the Goddess are similar to Alakshmi. She symbolically represents poverty.

The mean of Jyestha or Jyaya is older or elder. She is the elder sister of Lakshmi.

Story of Jyestha

Legend has it that she appeared when demigods and demons churned the ocean (samudra manthan) to obtain the nectar of immortality. She was given in marriage to Sage Dussaha. But the Sage soon discovered that his ugly wife could not stand the sound or sight of any kind of auspicious activity.

Sage Dussaha complained about his unhappy life due to his newly wedded wife. Vishnu advised Dussaha to go with his wife only to place where inauspicious things happen. 

Depiction - Vehicle and Symbolism of Goddess Jyeshta

Goddess Jyeshta is usually depicted with a large belly and long nose.

The vehicle associated with Jyestha is ass (bhadrasana or khararudha or gardhabharudha). Her banner has the image of a crow. Sometimes she is also associated with owl. There is a broom on her left in some sculptures.

Linga Purana indicates that she came out of Samudra Manthan (Churning of Ocean) and she finds her abode where people are unclean and inauspiciousness thrives. She avoids all those places that have divine presence. She looks for ego-inflated bodies.

In Hinduism, Goddess Jyestha symbolically reminds us that the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi should not give way to pride, indiscipline and arrogance. Unclean body, unclean surroundings, sloth and avarice are invitation to the goddess of misfortune and in auspiciousness.

In some pictures she is represented as an old dark woman with flaccid skin, sagging lips, pendulous breasts, loose belly and an ugly face. She symbolically represents decay and decrepitude.

She is also known as nirrti.

Her description is mainly found in the Suprabhedagama – a manual of iconography in Hinduism.

Some of the other names associated with her in southern regions of India are Mugadi, Tauvai, Kaladi, Mudevi and Kettai.

A Different Jyeshta Devi Worshipped 

It must be noted that there is another Jyeshta Devi who is terrific and powerful. She is of red complexion and is said to confer fortune upon her votaries and also destroy their enemies. She is described as the eldest of the group of eight goddesses beginning with Jyestha and ending with Manonmani. She carries kapala (skull) and bana (arrow) in her two hands.

As per Vishnu Dharmottara Purana, Jyestha is worshipped in the name of Rakta Jyestha and Nila Jyestha.