Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science.
The name “Saraswati” or “Sarasvati” comes from the Sanskrit language, in which “sars” means flow or essence and ,, wati “” translated as “the one that flows”.
Along with the other important deities mentioned in the Vedas, Saraswati represents a significant deity of Hinduism.
Saraswati or running water
In his book The Hindu Goddesses, David Kinsley shows that Saraswati’s personality is very connected to the Saraswati River. As the goddess of the river, she was revered for bringing fertility and wealth to crops, to those who worshiped her. It also represented purity because of its flowing nature. The Vedas often mention rituals that were performed on the banks of the river and that suggest purification or sacred powers. Vedic literature describes Saraswati as a water flowing from Heaven to Earth, thus adding to It a transcendental dimension.
Saraswati’s representation in late Hinduism
Saraswati is usually described as a young woman dressed in white, and placed on a white lotus flower, symbolizing the Absolute Truth. Her perfect, shining body signifies the purity of true knowledge, appearing almost exclusively portrayed in a serene and peaceful manner. It is said that its arms represent the mind, the intellect, the vigilance and the ego. She wears the following objects on her arms:
- A vessel of sacred water, representing purity;
- The sacred vedas, representing divine, eternal knowledge;
- A japa mala (rosary) that signifies the power of meditation and spirituality;
- Guilt – a musical instrument that represents its perfection manifested in all arts and in speech.
- A swan is the vehicle of the goddess, and it is the one that involves discrimination between good and evil.
In late Hinduism, the goddess also became associated with the art of speech or discourse.
Vagdevi (goddess of speech), Sabdavasini (the one who dwells in sound) and Mahavani (who possesses great discourse) are often other names used for this deity. Her identification with sound and speech is also emphasized from her mythological association with the languages of Brahma, Vishnu, and Krishna.
The Worship of the Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge
The adoration of Saraswati is believed to bring wisdom, eloquence, skill and musical artistic talent. Her special day of celebration takes place in early spring and is called Pancami Vasant.. On this day musical instruments, books, writing instruments and teachers are all revered.
The goddess Saraswati attracts worshippers who are students or artists. Her association with science and knowledge strengthens her aspect as a deity of speech and discursive expression. Representing purity and culture, it is more likely to be worshipped in schools and libraries than at home in the personal altar.
David Kingsley – Hindu Goddesses – University of California Press, 1988.