Vara vena mridupani vanaruhalo channa raani
surachira pambara veni suranutha kalyaani
Nirupama subhaguna lola nirathajayaprada seela
Varadha priya Renganaaki vanchitha phala
daayaki, sarasi jasana Janani Jaya Jaya varavena.
–Praises for Goddess Saraswati
The Vedic tradition of India defines God as manifest in many different forms and energies. The Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer are recognized as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. These are the male representations of these energetic universal forces, and each has their consort, or female counterpart. The female aspect of Brahma is the Goddess Saraswati, of Vishnu the Goddess Lakshmi, and Shiva’s counterpart is the Goddess Durga, or Kali. As well as being the female aspects of creation, sustenance, and destruction, this trinity of Goddesses also represents the three gunas, or energetic qualities that make up the universe: Saraswati carries satvic qualities of light, wisdom, and intelligence. Lakshmi embodies rajasic, energetic, dynamic, and frenzied qualities, while the Goddess Kali employs tamasic, heavy, earthy, qualities for her job of decomposing and destroying in order to make room for the emergence of a new cycle.
Within the past 48 hours (this was written on 9/29/10)I have experienced the death of a dear friend soon after she gave birth to two baby girls, and the delivery of a baby boy by another close friend, who, thankfully is well and happy. For whatever reason, Kali’s energy was needed to take Katherine away from us and her baby girls. It was her time to go so we give praises to Kali for helping her, and to Saraswati’s satvic energy which brings her to the light. Praises to Lakshmi for maintaining the health of Katherine’s girls Isla and Addison, their father Greg, as well as Christina and Christian, and their boy Kodiak. Hail Saraswati for the creation of new life, light, and opportunities for Self-realization.
Saraswati wears the satvic color white. The direction satvic energy flows is upward, so her vehicle of ascension is a white swan. She sits upon a white lotus flower, while playing the vena in two of her four hands and holding a mala in another, and a sacred book in her fourth hand. Her seat, the lotus flower shows that she is firmly rooted in Truth and supreme Reality (Parthasarathy 55). The vena, or Indian lute she plays represents the path of devotion that leads us to the ultimate Truth, or supreme Reality, as does the mala–beads for counting mantras in praise of the divine. The sacred book she holds expounds the philosophy of the Vedas, for those inclined to the intellectual pursuit of their true nature, or supreme Self. “The four hands of the Goddess represent the four aspects of the inner personality of man namely manas mind, buddhi intellect, ahnakara ego, and citta conditioned-consciousness” (Parthasarathy 56).
Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, learning, music, literature, and fine arts. She embodies the power of the written or spoken word, so it is said that every word written or spoken is a gift of her grace. Knowing this, we should be mindful of our speech, to honor this gift. Every musical instrument embodies Saraswati’s potential, as do all sacred texts. We ought to treat these items with respect in reverence to Mahasaraswati. Like the elephant god, Ganesha, she helps to remove obstacles at the beginning of a new endeavor. When taking on a new field of study, especially in language, or the arts, asking for her blessing insures success. However, self-seeking worship bears no fruit. Seek refuge with genuine devotion, trusting that she knows just what you need, no more and no less. To Saraswati offer white flowers, coconut, white colored sweets, and fresh fruits, humbly without selfish motivation.
Lord Krishna was the first to worship the Goddess Saraswati, who then blessed him with the ability to enchant and delight anyone who has the privilege to hear him play the flute (Gupta, Gupta 18). The poet Vaalmiki, who authored the Ramayana, was also gifted the grace of poetry by Saraswati. “She recognized the greatness of sage Vaalmiki at first sight. By her grace sage Vaalmiki came to be known as the First Poet of the World” (Gupta, Gupta 10).
Contemplating Saraswati’s satvic virtues purifies the mind, and invites wisdom to take root. Knowledge is required for creation, so together with Saraswati, Brahma “creates and enlightens the whole universe” (Gupta, Gupta 13). May all of our endeavors of pure intention be graced with Saraswati’s blessing! OM, shanti.
Gupta, M.D., and Prashant Gupta. Mother Saraswati. New Delhi: Dreamland Publications.
Parthasarathy, A. The Symbolism of Hindu Gods and Rituals. Mumbai: A. Parthasarathy, 2005.