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Lakshmi has a history from early scriptures and eventually became Vishnu's consort in the Puranic period. She seems to have become subservient to Vishnu after that. So much so that one of the sub-sects of Iyengar Vaishnavites regards her as a Jivatma, if I am not mistaken.

http://advaitham.org/who-is-mahalakshmi

this site says 'Mahalakshmi is the supreme Deity Who is also known as Tripura Sundari or Sri Vidya or Lalithambika or Lalitha. Mahalakshmi is the confluence of Lakshmi (satvic), Saraswathi (rajasik) and Kali (tamasik) powers. Here, the term “Maha” is not an adjective used for the noun “Lakshmi”.'

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    It might be the difference between Vishnu and Maha Vishnu. – user9072 Feb 11 '18 at 19:06
  • I don't believe "Mahalakshmi" occurs much in Vaishnavite scripture @Arkaprabha Majumdar – S K Feb 11 '18 at 19:21
  • That's what I said it "might" be. Maha Lakshmi or Mahamaya – user9072 Feb 11 '18 at 19:53
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You can from here read the Mahalakshmi Ashtakam (Ashatakam is a Stotra composed of 8 verses) which is of course dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi. The Stotram was said by Devaraja Indra and is found in the Padma Purana:

नमस्तेऽस्तु महामाये श्रीपीठे सुरपूजिते ।
शङ्खचक्रगदाहस्ते महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥१॥

Namastestu Mahaa-Maaye Shrii-Piitthe Sura-Puujite |
Shangkha-Cakra-Gadaa-Haste Mahaalakssmi Namostute ||1||

Meaning: 1.1: I Worshipfully Salute Devi Mahalakshmi, Who is the Mahamaya (the Primordial Cause of Creation); And Who is Worshipped in Sri Pitha (Her Abode) by the Suras. 1.2: (I Worshipfully Salute Her) Who is adorned in Her Beautiful Form with Shankha (Conch), Chakra (Disc) and Gada (Mace) in Her Hands; I Worshipfully Salute Devi Mahalakshmi.

But this clearly is the depiction of Sri Lakshmi and not that of the Supreme Goddess Sri Lalita Tripurasundari.

The next verse of the Stotra makes things even more clear:

नमस्ते गरुडारूढे कोलासुरभयंकरि ।
सर्वपापहरे देवि महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥२॥

Namaste Garudda-[A]aruuddhe Kola-[A]asura-Bhayangkari |
Sarva-Paapa-Hare Devi Mahaalakssmi Namostute ||2||

Meaning:

2.1: I Worshipfully Salute Devi Mahalakshmi Who is mounted on the Garuda, and Who is the Terror to Kolasura, 2.2: (I Worshipfully Salute) the Devi Who Removes All Sins (when we Surrender to Her); I Worshipfully Salute Devi Mahalakshmi.

As regards, the supreme Goddess Lalita, then she does not ride the Garuda and we find from the Lalita Trishati of the Brahmanda Purana:

Lagna Chaamara Hastha Shri Sharada Parivijitha
Lakshmi and Sharada (or Sarswati) serve you with Chaamara as a hand fan;

And, this is depicted in the following image of the supreme Goddess:

enter image description here

Also, it is a common practice to add Maha before a deity's name, it does not change the deity itself.

For example, this page describes a Ganesha Puja. But while invoking the deity the Mantra being used is Mahaganapatim Dhyami Avahayami

Similarly, this page describes a Vishnu Puja, but the invocation uses the Mantra Mahavishnum Dhyami Avahayami

Therefore, Lakshmi and Mahalakshmi both refer to the same deity. And Lalita is of course the supreme Goddess and is a different deity.

EDIT:

As requested by user SK.. updating the answer.

The following passage from the Devi Bhagavatam (DB) proves that the supreme Devi is the combined form of Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati and Mahakali. So, Mahalakshmi is immediately ruled out by this from being the supreme Goddess.

S’iva is beyond Prâkritic attributes, eternal and ever omnipresent; She is without any change, immutable, unattainable but by yoga; She is the refuge of the universe and Her nature is Turîya Chaitanya. Mahâ Lakshmi is Her Sattvikî S’akti; Sarasvati is Her Râjasik S’akti and Mahâ Kâlî is Her Tâmasik S’akti; these are all of feminine forms. 21-25. The assuming of bodies by these three S’aktis for the creation of this universe is denominated as "Sarga" (creation) by the high souled persona (Mahârpurusa), skilled in S’astras. And the further resolution of these three S’aktis into Brahmâ, Visnu and Mahes'a for the creation, preservation, and destruction of this universe is denominated (in this Purâna) as Pratisarga (secondary ereation.

DB Book 1, Chapter 2.

The same can also be proved by using Sri Chandi (from the Markandeya Purana) as the reference.

Further references, that prove that Lakshmi and Mahalakshmi are not different deities and that she indeed is the consort of Lord Vishnu are given below:

20-22. Janamejaya said :-- “O Bhagavân! In olden times, the World mother Parâ S’akti handed over Gaurî to Hara, Laksmî to Hari, and Sarasvatî to Brahmâ, born of the lotus from the navel of Hari. Now I hear that Gaurî is the daughter of Himâlayâ as well of Daksa; and Mahâ Laksmî is the daughter of the Ksiroda ocean (ocean of milk). They were all originated from the Prime Devî;

DB Book 7, Chapter 29.


This very beautiful Laksmi Devî is the complete master of the senses; She is of a very peaceful temper, of good mood and all-auspicious. She is free from greed, delusion, lust, anger, vanity and egoism. She is devoted to Her husband and to Her Bhaktas; Her words are very sweet and She is very dear to Her husband, indeed, the Life and Soul of Him. This Devî is residing in all the grains and vegetables and so She is the Source of Life of all the beings. She is residing in Vaikuntha as Mahâ Laksmî, chaste and always in the service of Her husband. She is the Heavenly Laksmî, residing in the Heavens and the royal Laksmî in palaces and the Griha Laksmî in the several families of several householders.

DB Book 9, Chapter 1.

Do you need more proofs? Anywways, why Lakshmi is called Mahalakshmi is given in the same Purana:

The two-armed person first made over to Mahâ Laksmî the four armed One; then the two armed Person Himself took Râdhâ. Laksmî looks on the whole universe with a cooling eye; hence She is named Laksmî and as She is great, She is called Mahâ Laksmî. And for that reason the Lord of Râdhâ is two-armed and the Lord of Laksmî is four-armed.

DB Book 9, Chapter 39

And, here the two-armed person being referred to is Narayana or Lord Vishnu.

1-2. Nârada said :-- “O Lord! How did the eternal Devî Mahâ Laksmî the dweller in Vaikuntha, the beloved of Nârâyana, the Presiding Deity of Vaikuntha, come down to the earth and how She, became the daughter of the ocean? By whom was She first praised? Kindly describe all these in detail to me and oblige.”

Book 9, Chapter 40.

  • you have not given any citation that Mahalakshmi is vishnu's spouse @rickross – S K Feb 12 '18 at 12:31
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    And for that you will downvote? it was simply needed to prove that Lakshmi and Mahalkshmi are just one deity..and i did that..if Supreme Goddess Lalita were to be Mahalakshmi then her consort would have been Kameswara or Sadashiva.. anyways updating the answer for proving that the sun rises from the east..@SK – Rickross Feb 12 '18 at 13:19
  • if mahalakshmi is never called spouse of Vishnu then obviously she is not lakshmi the demure lady sitting at vishnu's feet. – S K Feb 12 '18 at 13:31
  • "Sarva yanthrathmika Sarva thanthra roopa Manonmani Maaheswari Mahaa devi Maha lakshmi Mrida priya" from lalita sahasranama. it looks like "maha lakshmi" is a generic name for goddesses. @rickross – S K Feb 12 '18 at 14:14
  • @SK BTW why are u looking to prove that Lakshmi and Mahalakshmi are different deities? – Rickross Feb 12 '18 at 17:32
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According to āchārya Abhinavgupta, Lakshmi & Mahalakshmi are different at least in human body. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth but Mahālakshmi is the embodiment of sense of smell.

I bow to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, who is fond of perfume & all good scents & who is situated in the abode of Ishāna (northeast). To Mahālakshmi, who embodies the sense of smell & who worship Bhairavnath with various perfumes & scents I eternally bow. Verse 13 Dehasta-devata-cakra Strotra

Credit - Abhinavgupta.net

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Yes, Devi MahaLakshmi is Adi Devi Prakriti, and Lakshmi Devi is created by Her.

I am giving story in Short, you can read full story in below link.

Pradhanika Rahasya read after Durga SaptaShati explains -

The King asked- O Rishi! you told me various forms of Devi Chandika, now please tell me about Her Prakriti and way to worship.

Medha Rishi said-
O King! This is the most secretive thing I am telling you. You are great devotee so nothing is there to be not told to you.

सर्वस्याद्या महालक्ष्मीस्त्रिगुणा परमेश्वरी ।
लक्ष्यालक्ष्यस्वरूपा सा व्याप्य कृत्स्नं व्यवस्थिता ॥ ४॥
The Devi MahaLakshmi is Primordial to all and is form of the three Gunas(Sattva, Rajas, Tamas) and is Supreme Goddess. She pervades the whole Universe in visible and invisible form.

O King! seeing the whole existence empty this Supreme Goddess took up to Tamas Guna and assumed the form black as collyrium with teeth coming out from Her beautiful face. Then MahaLakshmi name this form as MahaKaali.

After this, She took up to Sattva Guna and assumed a form white as moon holding Veena, Books and Rosary. She named this form as MahaSaraswati.

Then MahaLakshmi said- O MahaKali! O MahaSaraswati! You two Devis create pairs of male-female.

इत्युक्त्वा ते महालक्ष्मीः ससर्ज मिथुनं स्वयम् ।
हिरण्यगर्भौ रुचिरौ स्त्रीपुंसौ कमलासनौ ॥ १७॥

ब्रह्मन्विधे विरिञ्चेति धातरित्याह तं नरम् ॥
श्रीः पद्मे कमले लक्ष्मीत्याह माता स्त्रियं च ताम्॥ १८॥

Telling them thus, MahaLakshmi herself created a pair of male-female who were born of Golden Womb, looked very beautiful and were sitting on Lotus.

Then She called them- Brahma, Vidhi, Virincha, Dhaataa , to male. And She called the female as Shree, Padmaa, Kamalaa, Lakshmi

Then MahaKaali created a White coloured man having red arms and blue throat and was called Rudra, Shankara, Sthaanu, Trilochana, Kaparddi, and a white female who was called Trayee, Vidya, KaamaDhenu, Bhaashaa, Aksharaa, Svaraa.

MahaSaraswati created a pair of fair complexion female and a dark complexion male. The male is called Vishnu, Krishna, Hrishikesha, Vaasudeva, Janaardana. The female is called Uma, Gauri, Sati, Chandi, Sundari, Subhagaa, Shivaa.

ब्रह्मणे प्रददौ पत्नीं महालक्ष्मीर्नृप त्रयीम् ।
रुद्राय गौरीं वरदां वासुदेवाय च श्रियम् ॥ २५॥

Then Goddess MahaLakshmi made Trayee(Saraswati) as wife of Brahmaa, Gauri wife of Rudra, and Shree (Lakshmi ) as wife of Vishnu Vaasudeva.

स्वरया सह सम्भूय विरिञ्चोऽण्डमजीजनत् ।
बिभेद भगवान् रुद्रस्तद्गौर्या सह वीर्यवान् ॥ २६॥

पुपोष पालयामास तल्लक्ष्म्या सह केशवः
महालक्ष्मीरेवमजा राजन् सर्वेश्वरेश्वरी ॥ २८॥

निराकारा च साकारा सैव नानाभिधानभृत् ।
नामातरैर्निरूप्यैषा नाम्ना नान्येन केनचित् ॥ २९॥

Virincha(Brahma) along with Swaraa(Saraswati) created Universal Ovum. Rudra along with Gauri pierced that Egg.

Then Keshava along with Lakshmi nourished and looked after all creation.

O King! This MahaLakshmi is this way Unborn and Goddess of All. She is formless and she takes various forms which are given various names.

She has innumerable names and therefore cannot be addressed just one name.

Very clearly, Devi Adi Prakriti MahaLakshmi is supreme Unborn who further created the Devas and Devis. Mother Lakshmi is one of her created Devis. In Subtle sense of course Devi MahaLakshmi is no different from Lakshmi Devi (for that matter, even we human beings are no different from MahaLakshmi). But on gross levels MahaLakshmi is supreme Devi who further created MahaKaali and MahaSaraswati, and hence other Deva and Devis.

  • So who's the husband of Mahalakshmi? – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Mar 3 '18 at 18:18
  • @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury Who knows. Does She even need? But when Mahishasura proposed MahaLakshmi, She said - "O Daitya! I desire no other man other than Supreme Purusha. I am close to Him just like iron move close to magnet." Devi Puraana, Book 5, Chapter 16 – user12826 Mar 3 '18 at 19:20
  • This is misleading.. Supreme Goddess is Durga or Chandika as per Sri Chandi.. so how can any other be supreme? As per Sri Chandi, Mahalakshmi, Mahasarswati and Mahakali are the three manifestations of Sri Chandika..She is the combined form of the three.. @AnuragSingh also by adding maha we can't change the deity.. as i have shown in the answer..If u see overall what all scriptures has to say, then Lakshmi and Mahalakshmi are just one and the same.. – Rickross Mar 4 '18 at 6:02
  • @Rickross Devi Puraan Book 5 Chapter 10, Verse 1-2, Devi Spoke to Messenger of Mahishasura who came with proposal sent by Mahisha- "O Minister-in-chief! Know Me as the Mother of the gods; my name is MahâLaksmî. It is I that destroy all the Daityas. I am requested by all the Devas to kill Dânava Mahisa." But This MahaLakshmi is Supreme Goddess Prakriti who was worshipped by Devas as - "Obeisance to **Shivaa who is benevolent, She is KaalaRatri, Rudraani, Indraani, and Vaishnavi. She knows all but none knows Her." – user12826 Mar 4 '18 at 14:59
  • Now You can She if she is Lakshmi who appeared from Ocean and is sister of Moon, OR if This Devi is the Supreme Prakriti who is known as MahaLakshmi. Just like, Vishnu can also be called MahaDeva, but usually we mean MahaDeva as Shiva. Same way though yes We call Devi Padmaa Lakshmi as MahaLakshmi, but This Devi MahaLakshmi as in above is Supreme Devi , not necessarily Lakshmi Devi. – user12826 Mar 4 '18 at 15:03

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