Saraswati is an aspect of Divine Mother inspiring our consciousness. She is the source of intellect, creativity, knowledge and learning. She is also Vaak Devi, the Goddess of Speech.
The word Saraswati is a fusion of two Sanskrit words, Sara (essence) and Swa (one self). Goddess Saraswati is the essence of one self.
In ancient scriptures
Vaak is one of the oldest Vedic Goddesses mentioned in Rig Veda. She is consciousness, the energy behind the creation of the Universe. She is inherent in communication of any kind, especially in sacred ritual chanting. She is an inspiration for the seers to hear and see.
When Brahma, the creator God of the Hindu Trinity wanted to settle the chaos and bring order and create beauty in the creation, he gave birth to Saraswati out of his own body. The Goddess roused the creative energy of Brahma. The divine music of her lute filled the cosmos with vital energy or prana. Brahma named Saraswati as ‘Vagdevi’, the Goddess of speech and sound.
In Rig Veda, the word Saraswati appears in reference to a river and also as a significant deity. The purifying power of her abundant flowing water refines the essence and self of a person. She is referred by many names including Brahmani (goddess of sciences), Brahmi (being consort of Brahma), Vani and Vachi (the flow of music, speech), Varnesvari (goddess of letters), Kavijihvagravasini (one who dwells on the tongue of the poets).
In scriptures like Taittiriya Brahmana Saraswati is described as the mother of eloquent speech and melodious music. She is the active energy and power of Brahma.
Symbolism of Saraswati
Popular imagery of Saraswati depicts the Goddess with four arms, dressed in pure white usually without jewelry, sitting on a white lotus. Her very form reflects serenity, purity and sublimity.
The four hands of the Goddess represent the four elements of the inner personality, which are - manas (mind or sense), buddhi (intellect), citta (consciousness or creativity) and ahamkara (ego). In one hand she holds a book which symbolizes the Vedas; another hand holding rosary symbolizes higher intellect and spiritual essence; the Veena or lute is symbolic of Goddess’ mastery over creative arts and music.
Her mount, the swan is a sacred bird in Hindu mythology. It has got the finesse to separate pure from impure.
Connecting with the Knowledge Goddess
As an embodiment of knowledge and learning, Saraswati is especially revered by students and those associated with creative arts, research and learning. There is a practice in India that when a new born arrives in the family, an elderly, usually the grandmother draws a five-pointed star, called Saraswati sign on the tongue of the new-born with honey.
Vasant Panchami is a popular festival dedicated to Saraswati. Observed as Goddesses birthday, the day is celebrated every year on the 5th day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month Magha (January-February).
During the last three days of the nine –day Navratri festival, the divine mother is propitiated as Saraswati. It is an auspicious time to connect with the Goddess and let her inspire our consciousness and awaken our creative potential.