In the Vedas, Saraswati is the Goddess of Learning, Wisdom, Knowledge, Music, Arts and Skills. In Sanskrit, Saraswati means “the essence of the self”. Goddess Saraswati is the consort of Lord Brahma, and hence, source of all knowledge herself. Since knowledge is necessary for creation, Saraswati symbolizes the creative power of Brahma. She is a beautiful goddess being elegant, graceful and glowing with the light of knowledge. She is often worshipped by the knower of Vedas, the seers and the inquisitive students. She is the river of consciousness that enlivens creation; being the dawn-goddess whose rays dispel the darkness of ignorance.
Goddess Saraswati is also known as Gayatri, which is where the Gayatri Mantra gets its name. Her name is loosely translated as “the one who flows”, which is why Saraswati River got its name too. She is the deity of the river in the Rig Veda. The same meaning is applied to her intellectual thoughts and words. She represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness and is considered to be the mother of the Vedas, which is why Saraswati Vandana chants often mark the beginning and end of all Vedic lessons.
Goddess Saraswati is known by several other names, some of which include:
- Sarada - giver of essence
- Brahmi - wife of Brahma
- Mahavidya - holder of supreme knowledge
- Bharati - eloquence
- Maha-vidya - transcendent knowledge
- Arya - noble one
- Maha-vani -the transcendent word
- Kamadhenu - like the wish-fulfilling cow
- Dhaneshvari -the divinity of wealth
- Vagishvari - mistress of speech
Goddess Saraswati is significant as a goddess from the Vedic age through modern times of Hindu traditions. Vasant Panchami, which is the fifth day of spring, is dedicated to her. It is celebrated with great ardour in temples, homes and educational institutes alike. Goddess Saraswati is not only worshipped by Hindu, but is also a revered in Buddhism and Jainism. She is worshipped widely all over India, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar.
In popular images and pictures, Goddess Saraswati is generally depicted as a beautiful woman with snow-white skin, wearing pure white and sometimes yellow clothes. She is often associated with the colour white, which represents the purity of true knowledge. She is commonly depicted with four hands, which denote her omnipresence and omnipotence. She is often seated on a white lotus, which symbolizes that she is founded in the experience of the Absolute Truth. Sometimes, she is depicted as seated upon a white swan, which marks her transcendence over the imperfections of the physical world. This is the reason she is also sometimes known as Hamsa-vahini, which means "she who has a swan as her vehicle."
In her hands, she holds:
- The sacred Vedas: Symbolizing her knowledge as well as her impeccable understanding of the scriptures.
- A necklace of white pearls: Symbolizing the power of meditation and spirituality
- A pot of sacred water: Symbolizing her creative purifying, and nourishing attributes
- The Vena, a Sitar like musical instrument: Symbolizing her mastery of all fine arts and sciences
Goddess Saraswati is usually depicted near a flowing river, which may be related to her earlier history as a water goddess. She is dressed modestly, wearing a white saree that represents her as the embodiment of pure knowledge, and minimal jewelry. This represents her preference for possessing knowledge over materialistic worldly possessions.
The vehicle or vahana of Goddess Saraswati is the swan. It signifies the acquisition of wisdom and knowledge. Sometimes, she is also seen riding a beautiful peacock, which denotes her gracefulness, elegance, and mastery over performing arts.
Favorite Fruits And Flower:
As the Goddess of learning and wisdom, Goddess Saraswati is easily pleased with a simple rich based dish. She is often offered Khichdi made with yellow dal. Kheer made with rice, milk and sugar is also offered to her as bhoga. Since she is most often seen seated upon a white lotus, the flower is offered to please her during prayers.
Mention In Vedas and Puranas
Goddess Saraswati is believed to be the Mother of the Vedas. She is mentioned in all major Indian literature dated between 1000 BC and 1500 AD. She is called the Mother of the Vedas in Shanti Parva of the epic Mahabharata. It also calls her the celestial creative symphony that appeared when the universe was created by Lord Brahma. Book Two of Taittiriya Brahmana names her as the mother of eloquent speech and melodious music. Early Rig Vedic hymns describe her as a mighty river that flowed down to earth from heaven. Later Vedic texts record the river disappeared over the years at Vinasana and joined the Ganga and Yamuna as an invisible third river. Some believe the holiness and sanctity of the modern Ganga is because it still contains the holy, life-giving waters of the ancient Saraswati.
In Rig Veda (6.61.7), Saraswati along with Lord Indra kills the serpentine demon Vritra, who had hoarded all of the earth's water and brought drought. Saraswati is the earliest example of a goddess associated with the river in the Indian tradition, which later sees other goddesses such as Ganga, the feminine personification of the Ganges River. The Vedas also associate her with medicine and healing. In the Satapatha-brahmana she is invoked to heal sickness, and in the Rig Veda she is closely linked to the twin gods of healing – Asvinas.
After Lord Brahma created the cosmic universe, he realized that it lacked forms, concepts and orders. He felt lost and needed assistance to organize the Universe. He decided to create the very embodiment of knowledge to help him with this Herculean task, and from his mouth emerged the Goddess Saraswati. She gave him direction on how to create order in the cosmos, as we know it. The sun, the moon, and the stars were born. The oceans emerged and seasons changed. The joyous Brahma then named Saraswati - Vagdevi, the goddess of speech and sound. Thus Brahma became the creator of the world with Saraswati as his source of wisdom.
Another legend tale tells the story of how Goddess Saraswati got back the life-giving Somras from the Gandharvas without a war. It is believed that the Gandharvas were demigods who sprang from the fragrance of flowers. They stole the Soma plant from the gods, as its inebriating and invigorating sap was believed to make devas immortal. This infuriated the gods, but Goddess Saraswati promised to recover the plant without a fight. She walked into the garden of the Gandharvas and began to create beautiful music with her veena - the enchanting tunes of ragas and the raginis. Mesmerized, the Gandharvas begged for the music, and Goddess Saraswati agreed to teach it to them if they returned the Soma plant. Hence, the gods got back their Soma plant, and the Gandharvas learned music to become celestial musicians whose melodies could rouse the mind like no other intoxicant.