In India, the Lord of Riches is Kubera. We refer to a wealthy individual as an ‘appeaser of Kubera’, and in mythology gold treasure and vast riches are commonly referred to as ‘Kubera’s treasure’ or ‘Kubera’s wealth’. But who was Kubera, and what made him the Lord of Riches?
Kubera, a Yaksha (demon), was the king who built the golden city of Lanka in the middle of the southern sea. It is said that he used to travel in his Pushpaka Vimana, a flying palatial vehicle. However, the glorious days of Lanka came to an end when Kubera’s step-brother Ravana, with a boon from Brahma, ousted him. Distressed Kubera left Lanka and settled in Alakapuri near Kailash.
The Vedic texts term Kubera as a demon. However, in other Hindu epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, he is the God of riches and the wealthiest Deva (Hindu God). Interestingly, the name Kubera means – ‘deformed’ or ‘monstrous’ in Sanskrit. The Hindu scripts and sculptures depict Kubera as a dwarf with big belly and lotus leaf complexion.
In Hindu mythology, ‘Kubera’s treasure’ or ‘Kubera’s wealth’ are the commonly used terms for gold treasures or wealth of rich individuals. The present artwork and images of Kubera are mainly in gold with Goddess Lakshmi. Reckoned as the ‘Gold Bestower’, Kubera is often worshipped with Lakshmi for wealth and success, especially during Diwali, in houses as well as business establishments. It is believed that Kubera grants gold and other precious metals from his treasury to his devotees who chant his mantra ‘Oṃ Shaṃ Kuberāya Namaḥ’ 108 times.
Kubera’s existence goes beyond Hinduism, as he is also featured in the Jain and Buddhist mythologies. In Buddhist texts, Kubera is Vaiśravaṇa, one of the four heavenly kings that are associated with four cardinal directions. While in Jainism, Kubera is the attendant Yaksha of the 19th Tirthankar Mallinath and named as Sarvanubhuti or Sarvahna.
With his wide presence, Kubera enjoys devotion from many communities of worshippers. It is believed that his dedicated worship ensures his devotees a golden success.