Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Saraswati - Hindu Goddess

Saraswati the Hindu Goddess is very close to my heart of all the many faces of the goddess she is one that speaks very clearly to me in my daily work/life. I resonate with her because of the all the craft work that I do and now through this blog in the written work that I do, and lastly in just being a seeker of knowledge.

I have her in my mediation room and she guides me with projects I wish to delve into. Around her neck hangs prayer beads I purchased from the Monks in Thailand and I sometimes mediate with her and the beads when I want inspiration, however just having her presence with me is enough to give me all the ideas I need.

Saraswati in my meditation room
Prayer to Saraswati (Ya Devi Stuyate)

Ya Devi Stuyate Nityam Vibhuhairvedaparagaih
SaMe Vasatu Jihvagre Brahmarupa Saraswati

Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge, who is praised by the wise who have mastered the Sastra, who is the wife of the Creator, may she live on the tip of my tounge.

Saraswati is the Goddess of learning, knowledge, music, wisdom and all creative arts. The Sanskrit word sara means "essence" and swa means "self." Thus Saraswati means "the essence of the self." She represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness. Saraswati is the daughter of Lord Shiva and Goddess DurgaSaraswati is represented in Hindu mythology as the divine consort of Lord Brahma, the Creator of the universe. Called the Mother of the Veda's (Sacred Texts of Hinduism) and the repository of Brahma's creative intelligence. Since knowledge is necessary for creation, Saraswati symbolizes the creative power of Brahma. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped by all persons interested in knowledge, especially students, teachers, scholars, and scientists. 

Students worship Saraswati to perform well in examinations. The Vilma Vashi temple in Dilwara is dedicated to Saraswati. This sloka (mantra) of Saraswati can be recited daily to improve memory, power and concentration in studies :


Saraswati is also called Vak Devi, the goddess of speech and Sakala Kaladhistatri, goddess bestowing all the arts. For most Indian artists, all art and all new art traditions originate with Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of art. She is the main muse of every Indian artist.

In order to create the world and produce the human race, Brahma made a goddess out of himself. One half was woman and the other half was man. Brahma called the woman Gayatri, but she also became known by many other names such as Saraswati.

Saraswati also stands high in yoga, as the Sushumna channel through which the Kundalini energy may rise upwards. Through breath control, the solar and lunar energies are merged into the neutral Kundalini energy.

The lunar energy channel is symbolized as the river Ganga, riding the crocodile. The solar energy channel is the Yamuna goddess and river, while the central neutral channel is Saraswati. The upward flow of Kundalini through the central Saraswati channel then pierces the chakras and brings liberation. This confluence of the 3 rivers called Triveni Sangam actually takes place near the city of Allahabad. Here, every 12 years the biggest human gathering on earth takes place, the festival of the Maha Kumbh Mela.

She is the river of consciousness that enlivens creation; she is the dawn-goddess whose rays dispel the darkness of ignorance. Without her there is only chaos and confusion. To realize her one must go beyond the pleasures of the senses and rejoice in the serenity of the spirit. She transcends the cravings of the flesh and rejoices in the powers of the mind as the patron of pure wisdom. She embodies all that is pure and sublime in Nature.

Photo Source http://pushti-marg.net/bhagwat/gallery/Sarasvati-universe.jpg

In Her popular images and pictures, Goddess Saraswati is generally depicted with four arms (some pictures may show only two arms), wearing a white sari and seated on a white lotus. Saraswati wears neither jewels or paints herself with bright colours. The white sari she adorns reflects her essential purity, her rejection of all that is base and materialistic. She holds a palm leaf scroll or book and a mala or rosary in Her rear two hands, indicating knowledge, while the front two hands are engaged in the playing of a lute (veena). Her right leg is shown slightly pushing against Her left leg. She uses a swan, which personifies pure knowledge and her herald, or sometimes a peacock, which is a symbol of the arts as her vehicle. This symbolism illustrates the following spiritual ideas:

The lotus is a symbol of the supreme reality, and a white lotus also denotes supreme knowledge. By sitting on a lotus, Saraswati signifies that she is herself rooted in the reality, and symbolizes knowledge. The white colour symbolises purity and knowledge. The white sari that the Goddess is wearing denotes that she is the embodiment of pure knowledge.

The four arms denote Her omnipresence and omnipotence. The two front arms indicate her activity in the physical world and the two back arms signify her presence in the spiritual world. The four hands represent the four elements of the inner personality. The mind (manas) is represented by the front right hand, the intellect (buddhi) by the front left hand, the conditioned consciousness (chitta) by the rear left hand, and the ego (ahankara) by the rear right hand.

The left side of the body symbolizes the qualities of the heart and the right side symbolizes activities of the mind and intellect. A book in the rear left hand signifies that knowledge acquired must be used with love and kindness to promote prosperity of mankind.

The rosary signifies concentration, meditation, and contemplation, leading to samadhi, or union with Goddess. A rosary in the rear right hand representing ego conveys that true knowledge acquired with love and devotion melts the ego and results in liberation (moksha) of the seeker from the bondage to the physical world.

The Goddess is shown playing a musical instrument that is held in her front hands, which denote mind and intellect. This symbol conveys that the seeker must tune his mind and intellect in order to live in perfect harmony with the world. Such harmonious living enables the individual to utilise acquired knowledge for the welfare of all mankind.

When a swan is shown with her it is said to have a sensitive beak that enables it to distinguish pure milk from a mixture of milk and water. A swan, therefore, symbolizes the power of discrimination, or the ability to discriminate between right and wrong or good and bad. Saraswati uses the swan as her carrier. This indicates that one must acquire and apply knowledge with discrimination for the good of mankind. Knowledge that is dominated by ego can destroy the world.

When a peacock is sitting next to Saraswati and is anxiously waiting to serve as her vehicle. A peacock depicts unpredictable behaviour as its moods can be influenced by the changes in the weather. Saraswati is using a swan as a vehicle and not the peacock. This signifies that one should overcome fear, indecision, and fickleness in order to acquire true knowledge.

Photo Source http://www.koausa.org

She is the mother of chants called the 'Saraswati Vandana'. Chanting mantras to Goddess Saraswati with humility and devotion is a great act for the seeker of Truth and Illumination. Saraswati will raiseyour level of consciousness and expand your capacity to comprehend spiritual Truth. All who seek, find. To all who knock, the door is opened. You will find, if you Seek. The following site https://sites.google.com/site/hinduprayersmantras/saraswati-vandana-chaalisa-etc gives us the english translations I have added a few below:

Saraswati Vandana
"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."
Vidya Mantra
Oh Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge,
We pray to you as humble souls to fill our minds
With your kind blessings and knowledge
Which you have aplenty. 

Saraswati Chaalisa
Glory, glory, all glory to you, O Bharati, who are Saraswati, the goddess of Speech, who are reverenced throughout the world. Glory to you, O Mother, who are the inexhaustible fountainhead of blessings, and on whom the gods, women, hermits and votaries wait.

Glory to you, O Mother, Sambhavi, you are creative sound and sacred speech; you play on the vina, and love lotuses; you are the supreme goddess of the world and the only support of the poet.

Glory, all glory to you, O Sarasvati, the mother of the world ! Tarry not today, O Mother, but come at once (to deliver me from ignorance). Make my throat your dwelling and bless me with sacred speech, considering that I, your own daughter, am ignorant.

Grant me faith and bringing my efforts to fruition bless me with the strength of wisdom and the power of knowledge, so that I may win victory and become a universal celebrity. This I say, O Mother, with my head bowed everyday to your feet.

Photo Source http://www.dollsofindia.com
O queen consort, all the seven musical notes and all mellifluous speech, which is sweet as nectar, are but the ambrosial water with which your feet are washed (or the sacred water flowing from your feet). Your appearance is as beautiful as the fair, full autumnal moon, and the swan, your white vehicle, looks charming.

Yours shapely and beautiful eyes rival the loveliness of the lotus and your bright forehead the lustre of the moon. The vina in your hand and the wreath of malati flowers are two of your other adornments. The serpent king and the great god Mahesa sing your praises everyday, while myriads of Loves (Kama) feel abashed when they behold your beauty.

Glory to you, O goddess of creative art and its embellisher; you dwell on the tongues of the poet and the minstrel. Glory to you, O Kausiki and beloved of Gauri ! Glory, all glory to you, O beloved of the four-faced Brahma !

Blessed, blessed are you, O Sweet Mother Sarasvati, who do not tarry when your votaries cry for help. You are, O Goddess of Speech, O Mother who play on the Vina, the very ocean of learning and controller of the human intellect.

She who sets her mind on Ganesa and then meditates on you and also bows her head to Hanuman, finds herself accomplishing the most difficult undertaking – so testify the Vedas, saying that all this is true, true, and true.

Glory, glory, all glory to you, O Mother Saraswati; you are renowned throughout the three spheres as the treasure-house of all great noble virtues. Let all sing to the glory of your name

O bestower of learning and skill, illumine the world with light of knowledge and dispel the darkness of ignorance and infatuation.

O Mother, pray accept my gift of incense, light, both green and dry fruits, and endowing the world with the eyes of knowledge ferry it across the ocean of this phenomenal world.

Whosoever sings this hymn to Mother Sarasvati, becomes a recipient of knowledge and devotion, both of which are beneficial and yield great happiness.

Photo Source http://en.wikipedia.org Saraswati Temple in Bali Indonesia
In Hindu beliefs, great significance is attached to offering honey to this goddess, as honey is representative of perfect knowledge. 

Saraswati Festivals (Puja) in Eastern India

In the eastern part of India—Tripura, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihār and Assam,—Saraswati Puja is celebrated in the Magha month (January–February). It coincides with Vasant Panchami (Saraswati Birthday) or Shree Panchami, i.e., the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha. People place books near the goddess' statue or picture and worship the goddess. Book reading is not allowed on this day.

Photo Source http://www.thehindu.com The ‘Aniveti' mandapam'
at Basar's Gnana Saraswati temple in Adilabad district.
Sarasvati Puja in South India

In the southern states of India, Saraswati Puja is conducted during the Navaratri. Navaratri literally means "nine nights", but the actual celebrations continue during the 10th day, which is considered as Vijaya Dashami or the Victorious Tenth Day. Navaratri starts with the new-moon day of the bright fortnight of the Sharad Ritu (Sharad Season of the six seasons of India) during September–October. The festival celebrates the power of the feminine aspect of divinity or shakti. The last two or three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati in South India.

In Karnataka, the Shringeri Sharadamba Temple is a revered pilgrimage spot. There are other Sharada temples also. The Mysore Dasara festival includes Sharada puje. During the Navarathri season they keep various dolls on raised platforms this arrangement is called ("Gombe koorisuvudu"). Pustaka puje and musical instruments puja is also done on Saraswati pooja day.

In Andhra Pradesh, the Gnana Saraswati Temple in Basar, on the banks of the River Godavari is considered only one of two temples in India dedicated to the goddess.

In Tamil Nadu, Sarasvati Puja is conducted along with the Ayudha Puja (the worship of weapons and implements including machines). On the ninth day of Navaratri, i.e., the Mahanavami day, books and all musical instruments are ceremoniously kept in front of the Goddess Sarasvati early at dawn and worshipped with special prayers. No studies or any performance of arts is carried out, as it is considered that the goddess herself is blessing the books and the instruments. The festival concludes on the tenth day of Navaratri, and the goddess is worshipped again before the books and the musical instruments are removed. It is customary to start the study afresh on this day, which is called Vidyarambham (literally, "Commencement of Knowledge").

In Kerala, the last three days of the Navaratri festival, i.e., Ashtami, Navami, and Dashami, are celebrated as Sarasvati Puja. The celebrations start with the Puja Veypu (Placing for Worship). It consists of placing the books for Pooja on the Ashtami day. It may be in one's own house, in the local nursery school run by traditional teachers, or in the local temple. The books will be taken out for reading, after worship, only on the morning of the third day (Vijaya Dashami). It is called Puja Eduppu (Taking [from] Puja). Children are happy, since they are not expected to study on these days. On the Vijaya Dashami day, Kerala celebrates the Ezhuthiniruthu or Initiation of Writing for the little children before they are admitted to nursery schools. This is also called Vidyarambham. The child is made to write for the first time on the rice spread in a plate with the index finger, guided by an elder of the family or by a reputed teacher. The little ones will have to write "Hari Shri Ganapataye Namah" and recite the same to mark the auspicious entry into the world of education. This is considered a memorable event in the life of a person. In some parts of Kerala bordering Tamil Nadu, Ayudha Puja is also conducted during this period.

Photo Source http://www.true-enlightenment.com

Yantras are geometrical patterns that produce the energy associated with a deity. Meditation on the Saraswati yantra is usually performed by artists and by students. The overall light-blue colours stimulate serenity and sensitivity. The eight lotus petals represent the eigthfolded nature of the universe, the elements and qualities with which the artists works. The light violet colour relates to higher knowledge.

Carefully prepared yantra, if used with purpose and dedication can enhance the knowledge of the user. Concentration and memory power can increase, good thoughts will spring from your mind. The worship of Saraswati blessed the person with intuitive skills and a creative bent of mind. One is blessed with understanding of music, dance and other creative arts and is enable to achieve in them.

First purify the body and start with a clear and positive mind frame. Find a place where you will be undisturbed. Light an incense I am blessed t have found an incense for Saraswati, place offering to Saraswati on your altar. Place your yanta along side an image of Saraswati and light a candle. Chant your Mantra you could use the one above, once you feel you are completely connected with the goddess ask her to bless you with the creative you seek in your own language and sit still and be open to any messages, ideas or visions you may receive.

Photo Source http://edelcrafts.com
Another yantra I found.

Photo Source http://jayantra.co.uk


Diana said...

Thank you, very interesting and informative. I have just done a miniature watercolor in her honor.

Lee-Anne said...

Diana how wonderful that you are able to celebrate the wonders of Saraswati in watercolour, I am glad you enjoyed reading the blog.