Exploring Goddess Saraswati

I always remember when I was a child starting my first day back at school on the table mum would have curds, ghee and sugar to wish us luck for the new term ahead. We would seek blessings from our parents touching their feet and do Jai Jai to Goddess Saraswati. Goddess Saraswati the goddess of learning, art, music, speech, wisdom and knowledge.

But who is Goddess Saraswati? Let’s find out more… The Jai Jais Way.

Saraswati's name means 'elegant', 'flowing', and 'watery'. She is also known as Bharati-eloquence, Shatarupa-existence, Vedamata mother of the Vedas, Brahmi, Sarada, Vagisvari, and Putkari. As Vac, she is the goddess of speech. Saraswati first appears in the Rigveda and, in later religious texts, she is identified as the inventor of Sanskrit and, gives Ganesh the gifts of pen and inks. She is also a patron of the arts and sciences, and the wife of Brahma. Some Hindus believe all creatures were born from the union of Brahma and Sarasvati starting with Manu, the first man. About 4000 years ago in India, a river flew by the name of Saraswati. It was an earthly form of Maa Saraswati. Parashurama, the 6th avatar of Lord Vishnu, purified himself in this river after ending the Kshatriyas.

Saraswati is usually depicted as a graceful youth with white skin. She most often wears a white sari, which symbolises purity which has a blue border. Not being concerned with worldly goods she rarely wears jewellery. She may have a crescent on her forehead and be seated on a lotus flower. Alternatively, she may be shown riding her vehicle (vahana), either a swan or goose. Her four arms represent the various aspects of human personality — learning, mind, intellect, alertness and ego. These four arms are also known to reflect the 4 Vedas — Rigveda, Atharvaveda, Samveda and Yajurveda. In the left hands she can carry a palm-leaf manuscript and ritual water vessel. In the upper right hand she holds a white lotus flower while the lower right hand typically performs the varada mudra, the traditional gift-giving gesture of Hinduism.

In the beginning there was chaos. Everything existed in a formless, fluid state, Brahma wanted to bring order to this chaos. Devi emerged from Brahma's mouth riding a swan as the goddess Saraswati, sacred books in one hand and a veena in the other dressed in white.

"Knowledge helps man find possibilities where once he saw problems." Said the goddess. Under her guidance Brahma acquired the ability to sense, think, comprehend and communicate. He began looking upon chaos with eyes of wisdom and began creation

Brahma discovered the melody of mantras in the chaos. In his joy he named Saraswati, Vagdevi, goddess of speech and sound. The sound of mantras filled the universe with vital energy, or prana. Things began to take shape and the cosmos acquired a structure: the sky dotted with stars rose to form the heavens; the sea sank into the abyss below, the earth stood in between. Gods became lords of the celestial spheres; demons ruled the nether regions, humans walked on earth. The sun rose and set, the moon waxed and waned, the tide flowed and ebbed. Seasons changed, seeds germinated, plants bloomed and withered, animals migrated and reproduced as randomness gave way to the rhythm of life. Brahma thus became the creator of the world with Saraswati as his wisdom. (Ref: Lotus sculpture)

Saraswati was the first being to come into Brahma's world. Brahma began to look upon her with eyes of desire. She turned away saying, "All I offer must be used to elevate the spirit, not indulge the senses."

Brahma could not control his amorous thoughts and his infatuation for the lovely goddess grew. He continued to stare at Saraswati. He gave himself four heads facing every direction so that he could always be able to feast his eyes on Saraswati's beauty.

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