Before we ascend into the spiritual realm of Devi Saraswati, let us try to seek the meaning of her name in this mortal world.
“Sara” means the Gist, or the juice, or the essence. “Wati” means “One who contains” so the name Saraswati literally translates into the Goddess who contains the essence. There is also another way to look at her name. “Saras” also means “the flow of the essence”. Therefore she can be defined as the source and the pathway of the essence. She is a figure of Prominence and Worship throughout India and Nepal.
She is the Goddess of skills. Anything to do with music, art, wisdom, learning, creation is directly linked to this fair white goddess. Just like Mahalakshmi is the counterpart of Lord Vishnu, Maa Saraswati is the counterpart of Brahma. The Creator in the Trinity of Gods in the Hindu Triad.
She is represented differently in different cultures but a common point of all her representation is that she is seen with a Beena, (A String Instrument) is seated on a white lotus and is dressed in Pure Moon White. The white in her is a symbol of Life, knowledge, Wisdom and Truth. Her animal spirit is the swan which is the pure representation of Elegance and Spiritual transcendence. At times she is also seen with a peacock, which represents celebration, colour and splendor. She is also often seen with a book (The Vedas) in one of her four hands and a Japamala (A prayer locket) in another.
She is usually represented with four arms. These four arms are the representation of the four aspects of the human personality in learning. The four aspects are as follows:
- Manas or the Mind
- Buddhi or the Intellect
- Chittao or the Creative Aspect
- Ahamkar or the Ego
According to Hindu scriptures, Brahma created the world. However the world was in utter chaos. He realized that he needed assistance in bringing elegance into the world, created Devi Saraswati from his mouth. Once she came into existence, she started directing Brahma’s power, She became the energy through which Brahma creates order in a world full of chaos. Hence, the beautiful planetary bodies like the Sun, the moon and the stars all came into being due to Saraswati’s guidance. The entire existence was a chaos, and from within that chaos, Devi Saraswati was able to bring the Gist, the Essence or the “saar” out. Hence she was named the Goddesss of “Saar” and thereupon she was known as Saraswati. She also bought a melodic rhythm in a chaotic world and discovered melody through the Mantras. Therefore, impressed by her deeds, Brahma also named her “Vagdevi”, the Goddess of speech and wisdom.
But such a Divine Goddess never goes without trouble. Brahma created such a beautiful white clad Goddess but was not unharmed by her beauty. I know it is such an irony. The beauty of the Goddess probably inspired lust within Brahma and he decided to go after Saraswati. While Saraswati roamed the earth in the form of a cow (In some stories; a mare) Brahma followed her in the form of a bull (In some stories a Horse). Brahma had left his abode in order to pursue Saraswati and this had disrupted the balance of the world. The cosmos had gone astray and that had awoken Bhairav- The destructive form of Shiva, another one Deity of the Trinity of Gods.
The enraged bhairava charged onto Brahma and lashed and scraped put his head. Before that Brahma was known to have five heads but he lost one to Bhairava. However, once Bhairava is unleashed upon the world, it is very difficult to pacify him again. At that moment it was Saraswati, who calmed Bhairava down and took him into her arms and caressed him like a child, which calmed him down.
Brahma then decided to conduct a ritual to cleanse him of the stain he had brought upon his image, but for the ritual, a wife is needed. There, Saraswati agreed to become his consort.
Saraswati is represented as a pure white being and her pictures never show herself wearing any jewels or colourful clothes. She dwells in simplicity when it comes to materialistic things. However, she is the Goddess that thinks high and with her devotees she dwells inside the mind. She is a patron of true wisdom.
She is also addressed with various other names such as
- Brahmani (Power of Brahma)
- Brahmi (Goddess of Science)
- Bharadi (Goddess of History)
- Vani (Goddess of Speech)
- Varneswari (Goddess of linguistics/ Writings)
- Kavijivagrihasini (Goddess of the poets)
Like many knowledge and wisdom lovers, she dwells in silence, is a fan of contemplation and is quick of tongue. She, unlike the other Goddesses, is a symbol not of resistance and endurance but of rebuttal. She does not lose time to curse, rebute or refute any arguments that have been wrongly imposed upon her. However, she is very generous to her devotees.
The mantra to chant in her favor is.
ॐ ह्रींऐंह्रींसरस्वत्यैनमः। OM HREEM AIM HREEEM SARASWATYAI NAMAH
Devi Saraswati is the Goddess of Wisdom, Knowledge and the Arts. She preserves ancient knowledge and grants appropriate wisdom to the Devotees in need. She is the one to remember and praise in order to improve literature and Arts skills including Music. Nature of Mantra: This Mantra calls upon Goddess Saraswati to your heart and mind, bringind about calmness. The vibrations of the Mantra increase activity in the brain and the throat chakra.
Time of Chant: This Mantra works best when Chanted early in the morning. You can pray upon her name or her image.
Use this Mantra if you are having a creator’s block. Setting the vibration of this mantra in your head helps your creative juices to flow. In the Indian sub-continent, especially in Nepal babies are initiated into schools and colleges on the day of Saraswati puja, that is on the day of the Goddess.
Let us keep Devi Saraswati in our hearts and in our prayers so that she may grant us knowledge, skills and wisdom for our endeavors.
Until next time, Shunya Samarpan.