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HINDUISM

SARASWATI

"Om Aim Kleeng Saum Saraswatiya Namaha"

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A unique aspect of Hinduism not found in other world religions is the recognition of an intimate link between the goddess and the force of intellect, mind, and speech. This is reflected in contemporary Hinduism in the person of the goddess Saraswati. Portrayed in spotless white garments and seated upon a swan, Saraswati holds in her hands a palm-leaf manuscript and a veena (the Indian lute), symbolizing her power over speech, literature, learning, and the arts. School children venerate Saraswati to excel in their studies, and often place their schoolbooks and pens upon her alter toward this end. The identification of the goddess with speech and intellect has ancient roots in Hinduism. Vedic hymns recognize Vac as the power of speech, the power that inspired the production of mantras. The identification of the goddess with language is later elaborated in Shaiva philosophy, where the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are collectively referred to as Matrika Shakti, the power of the "little mothers" (the letters themselves). By calling the letters "mothers," the sages drew our attention to the creative, generative powers of language. In this concept the goddess manifests to create the universe through pulsation (Spanda), which animates the mind as subtle thoughts, and emerges on the physical plane as speech. All of material creation is also embodied in the subtle vibrations of this divine speech, and mantras, which encapsulate these energies, when properly pronounced, can actually recreate material reality. Legend has it that Bhrahma the creator acquired the power to think and create only through the power of Saraswati and that it was Saraswati that enabled Bhrahma to listen to the naadabhrahmam the primordial sound which is revered as the source of all creation.The now extinct river Saraswati, once an integral part of Vedic culture is associated with Saraswati the Goddess of knowledge. Legend has it that when Shiva opened his third eye, the flame that emanated threatened to destroy everything in it's path. Only Saraswati the source of wisdom was unperturbed by the potence of the flame, owing to her firm understanding that the flame would only destroy what was impure. She then took the form of a river, carried the flame deep into the sea and transformed it into a fire breathing mare and declared that the creature of destruction would stay underground as long as wisdom was sought after and that it would surface if this search was totally abandoned.

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In the myth of Brahma's origin of his five heads; Brahma created Satarupa (Saraswati) out of his own body, and became enamoured with her. He was looking at her amorously. In order to avoid his glances, Satarupa turned to the right side from his gaze. In order to see her then, Brahma created a second head. As she passed to his left and his rear, in order to avoid his lustful glances, two other heads of the god successively appeared. At last she sprang to the sky, and following her, a fifth head of Brahma was also formed. In the myth of Brahma's great sacrifice; Brahma decided to perform a great sacrifice and for that purpose he and his wife Savitri (one of the names for Saraswati) went to Pushkara. When all the preparations were made with due rites and ceremonies for performing the sacrifice, Savitri, detained by some household affairs, was not in attendance. A priest was immediately advised to call her. But she replied that she had not yet completed her dress, nor arranged several affairs. Since without a wife no advantage could be derived by performing a sacrifice, Brahma advised Indra to bring a wife from wherever he could find one. Indra proceeded accordingly and, he found a milkmaid Gayatri (another name for Saraswati) who was young, beautiful . Indra seized her and brought to the assembly. Then Brahma told that he would espouse the mikmaid and she would be regarded as the mother of the Vedas. Thus Brahma was united with Gayatri.

At this time Savitri, accompanied by the wives of Vishnu, Rudra and other gods, come to the place of sacrifice. Seeing the milkmaid in the bride's attire, Savitri became furious and cursed Brahma and all the other gods and left. But Gayatri repaired most of the curses by performing proper sacrifices. In the myth of origin of Saraswati and her marriage to Vishnu; Once Krishna felt an inclination to create and thus sprang from him Radha, his shakti. Their union produced the mundane egg, which Radha threw into the numdane waters. Krishna was incensed at this unmotherly conduct of Radha and cursed her with everlasting youth and barrenness. At this point, suddently from the lip of Radha sprang forth a lovely daughter Saraswati of white complexion wearing yellow dress, bedecked with jewels and holding a Veena and a book in her hands. Radha again parted herself into two and her left half was transformed into Kamala or Lakshmi. At this, Krishna also parted into two and produced the four-armed Vishnu from the left side of his body. Krishna gave Sarasvati and Lakshmi to Vishnu as wives. In the myth about the fight between Ganga and Saraswati; Besides Saraswati, Vishnu married Ganga. One day Ganga was looking wistfully at her husband, and Vishnu was reciprocating the glances. This was too much for Saraswati who began to accuse Vishnu of partiality. Vishnu left the place to give Saraswati time to calm herself down. But this only served to anger Saraswati more. She advanced threatingly to Ganga when Lakshmi intervened. Lakshmi held Saraswati away from Ganga. Saraswati then cursed Lakshmi. Vishnu, having found out about what happened, cursed both Saraswati and Ganga with transformation into rivers, and also gave both of them to other husbands. Saraswati was given to Brahma and Ganga to Shiva.


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