e all know that if we have to create something we need to know how to do so. For example, if I want to bake a cake I must know the necessary ingredients, the correct way to mix these ingredients in the correct proportions and the precise temperature setting of the oven to bake it. Without any knowledge of any of the above I will end up spoiling the cake.
It applies to creation of the world too!! If Brahma wants to create this world with precision, He needs the knowledge to accomplish this task. But having the knowledge is not enough. He also needs the energy to do so. This energy aspect of an activity is personified as the sacred feminine entity in our religion and called Shakti. Hence each one of the activities of creation, sustenance and regeneration requires an energy aspect combined with it so that the specific function can be performed. Thus the creator, sustainer and regenerator aspects are combined with their respective energy components namely Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvathi. We worship them with great devotion as the three Devis. They are the consorts or ‘partners-in-action’ of the Trimoorties
This lesson we are starting this month with Goddess Saraswati.
The word Saraswati means ‘one who illuminates the mind with the ‘sara’ (essence) of ‘sva’ (self). Saraswati is the energy and knowledge aspect of Creation. Knowledge is a pre-requisite for creation. Hence Brahma’s consort or partner in action is Saraswati. She represents the power and intelligence without which organized creation is impossible.
To reveal that this intelligent power is stupendous and absolutely pure, her complexion is pure white and dazzling and she is always dressed in spotless white as well. She is sitting on a white lotus to represent that she is firmly rooted in pure Reality. She has four hands holding a book, rosary, and veena (a musical instrument). A swan is her vehicle just as her consort Brahma. Sometimes a peacock is shown standing quietly gazing at Her instead of its usual dancing pose with feathers spread.
The swan signifies the capacity to imbibe only the righteous values from among many. It symbolizes the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. The peacock represents ignorance (Avidya). It also represents material knowledge and the swan represents spiritual knowledge. This quiet peacock shows that in the presence of spiritual knowledge, material knowledge is silent. The book in her hand represents the Gnyana marg, one way of attaining ‘self realization’ by reading the Holy Scriptures. The veena represents Bhakti marg, another way of connecting to the divine by singing the glories with devotion.
The four hands represent the four aspects of the inner personality of the human
Mind(manas)- front right hand - veena
Intellect(buddhi)- front left hand- - veena
Ego(ahankara)- rear right hand- - rosary signifies meditation
Conditioned consciousness (chit) - rear left hand- - vedic scripture
The left side of the body symbolizes the qualities of the heart and the right side that of the mind and intellect. A book in the rear left hand signifies that knowledge acquired through reading the scriptures must be used with love and compassion to promote prosperity of the world. The rosary in the rear right hand conveys that such knowledge would melt one’s ego and one would be able to meditate upon Divinity which would eventually result in liberation of the seeker from the bondage of the physical world. The veena held in the hands representing mind and intellect 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 attain self realization.
Some other names for this energy aspect of creation are Vaagiswari (goddess of speech), Maha Vidya(supreme knowledge) and Sarada ( the giver of essence)
In summary, the image of Saraswati reveals that if our mind and intellect are focused in the pursuit of knowledge, we will be blessed with spiritual wisdom. It is imperative that the spiritual knowledge thus obtained must be used with compassion and kindness for the overall benefit of all of God’s creations.
We have witnessed too many examples of the misuse and abuse of knowledge over the recent past, causing so much pain and grief to so many of God’s creations. So let us make it a practice to pray to Goddess Saraswati every day to bless us with the wisdom to utilize the knowledge that we have gained through Her Grace for the best possible positive and productive results.
Saraswati namasthubyam varadhe kaamaroopini
Salutations to You. Oh, Goddess Sarawati! Who is the giver of boons, who has a beautiful form! I am commencing my pursuit of knowledge. Please bless me with success in this endeavor.
*Kanayalal Raina is a Brampton based writer who contributes regularly to various Canadian publications. He is working as Executive Director at Canada Hindu Heritage Centre in Canada. An automobile Engineer and MBA (Mktg) by profession he is providing consultancy on Project Management, Financing and Marketing.
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