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Saraswati, (also spelled Saraswati) is the Hindu goddess of learning, knowledge and wisdom. This hand-painted cold-cast resin statue shows her seated atop a lotus blossom, playing her vina/veena instrument. The statuette is 6" tall.
Who is Goddess Saraswati?
Saraswati is the Goddess of learning, knowledge, and wisdom. The Sanskrit word sara means "essence" and swa means "self." Thus Saraswati means "the essence of the self."
Saraswati is represented in Hindu mythology as the divine consort of Lord Brahma, the Creator of the universe. 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.
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. She holds a book and a rosary in Her rear two hands, 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 as Her vehicle. There is a peacock by Her side gazing at Her. 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 Supreme Reality, and symbolizes supreme knowledge. The white color symbolizes 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 God. 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 utilize acquired knowledge for the welfare of all mankind.
Two swans are depicted on the left side of the Goddess. A swan 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.
A peacock is sitting next to Saraswati and is anxiously waiting to serve as Her vehicle. A peacock depicts unpredictable behavior 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.
Saraswati, goddess of knowledge and the arts, embodies the wisdom of Devi. 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.
Saraswati wears neither jewels or paints herself with bright colors. The white sari she adorns reflects her essential purity, her rejection of all that is base and materialistic.
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.
The four Vedas, books of universal knowledge, were her offspring. Her mount, the swan, personifies pure knowledge and her herald, the peacock, is a symbol of the arts.
Schools and libraries are her temples; books, pens, all tools of the artist and musical instruments are the items used in puja to the enlightening goddess of wisdom.
The Birth of Saraswati
In the beginning there was chaos. Everything existed in a formless, fluid state. "How do I bring order to this disorder?" wondered Brahma, the creator. "With Knowledge", said Devi.
Heralded by a peacock, sacred books in one hand and a veena in the other dressed in white Devi emerged from Brahma's mouth riding a swan as the goddess Saraswati.
"Knowledge helps man find possibilities where once he saw problems." Said the goddess. Under her tutelage Brahma acquired the ability to sense, think, comprehend and communicate. He began looking upon chaos with eyes of wisdom and thus saw the beautiful potential that lay therein.
Brahma discovered the melody of mantras in the cacophony of chaos. In his joy he named Saraswati, Vagdevi, goddess of speech and sound.
The sound of mantras filled the universe with vital energy, or prana. Things began to take shape and the cosmos acquired a structure: the sky dotted with stars rose to form the heavens; the sea sank into the abyss below, the earth stood in between.
Gods became lords of the celestial spheres; demons ruled the nether regions, humans walked on earth. The sun rose and set, the moon waxed and waned, the tide flowed and ebbed. Seasons changed, seeds germinated, plants bloomed and withered, animals migrated and reproduced as randomness gave way to the rhythm of life.
Brahma thus became the creator of the world with Saraswati as his wisdom. Saraswati was the first being to come into Brahma's world. Brahma began to look upon her with eyes of desire. She turned away saying, "All I offer must be used to elevate the spirit, not indulge the senses."
Brahma could not control his amorous thoughts and his infatuation for the lovely goddess grew. He continued to stare at Saraswati. He gave himself four heads facing every direction so that he could always be able to feast his eyes on Saraswati's beauty.
Saraswati moved away from Brahma, first taking the form of a cow. Brahma then followed her as a bull. Saraswati then changed into a mare; Brahma gave chase as a horse. Every time Saraswati turned into a bird or a beast he followed her as the corresponding male equivalent. No matter how hard Brahma tried he could not catch Saraswati in any of her forms.
The goddess with multiple forms came to be known as Shatarupa. She personified material reality, alluring yet fleeting.