Saraswati is the goddess of creativity, knowledge, art, music, literacy and education. She represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness.
Known as the mother of the Vedas, a collection of ancient hymns and religious texts written in India between 1500 and 1000 BCE, Saraswati is the daughter of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga.
Often pictured as graceful, youthful and with milky-white skin, the first depiction of Saraswati is in the Rigveda, one of the four sacred canonical texts of Hinduism.
Her name signifies elegance, flowing and water. Saraswati is a personification of the Saraswati River (Sarsuti River, as it is now known), which flows down from the Himalaya.
The water from this river was considered a sacred source of purification, fertility and good fortune for those who bathed in it. As such, Saraswati is often seen in a white sari.
Saraswati is often shown with four hands, representing the human personality: mind, intellect, alertness and ego.
As the wife of Brahma (traditions dictate she was first the wife of Vishnu and was given to Brahma later on), some believe all of the creatures on earth — including Manu, the first man — are creations of their union.
She is also identified by the names Bharati (eloquence), Shatarupa (existence), Vedamata (mother of the Vedas), Brahmi, Sarada, Vagisvari and Putkari.
Saraswati’s energetic vibe is closely related to the creative vata dosha in Ayurveda.
Here is a popular pranam mantra to pay homage to Saraswati:
Om Saraswati Mahabhagey, Vidye Kamala Lochaney
Viswarupey Vishalakshmi, Vidyam Dehi Namohastutey
Jaya Jaya Devi, Charachara Sharey, Kuchayuga Shobhita, Mukta Haarey
Vina Ranjita, Pustaka Hastey, Bhagavati Bharati Devi Namohastutey
May Goddess Saraswati,
Who is fair like the jasmine-coloured moon,
And whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops,
Who is adorned in radiant white attire,
On whose beautiful arm rests the veena,
And whose throne is a white lotus;
Who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me.
May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance.
Articles consulted for this blog post:
- Devi, the Mother-Goddess: An Introduction
- Goddess Durga and sacred female power
- In search of Saraswati: The ambivalence of the Indian academic
- Is the goddess a feminist?: the politics of South Asian goddesses
- Hindu gods and goddesses
- Femininity, equality, and personhood
- The constant and changing faces of the goddess: goddess traditions of Asia
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