Man’s purpose on earth is to redirect his urge towards the path of spirituality by allowing the individual ego to identify with the Cosmic Ego. This can be accomplished when one moves from the state of ‘agyaan’ or ignorance to ‘gyaan’ or wisdom. The focus of ignorance is worldliness, materialism and objectivity while wisdom brings a heightened awareness of one’s true nature. The worship of Saraswati Devi , Goddess of Wisdom, empowers one with Kriyaa shakti or the energy of enlightened activity that transforms the individual ego to this heightened state.
Ignorance is key to the ‘kleshas’(flaws)of egoism, fear of death, attachment and dislikes, all of which shroud the intellect with the covering of illusory thinking, resulting in mistakes These five-fold mistakes of ignorance are:
- The unreal for the real.
- The impure for the pure
- The ephemeral for the eternal
- The painful fir the pleasurable
- That which should be discarded for that which should be acquired.
The name Saraswati Devi comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Saras’ which means a lake or pool. Saraswati Devi can thus be represented as the medium that facilitates pure knowledge and creativity flow. She embodies knowledge, arts, music, melody, muse, language, rhetoric, eloquence and creative work. Saraswati Devi’s flow purifies the essence and self of a person. Her form, functions and many names describe the flow of various forms of knowledge. A few of these names are:
- Vaani- Goddess of speech
- Hansvaahini- the One whose vehicle is the Swan
- Brahmani- the consort of the creative aspect of the Divine, Brahma.
- Veenapaani- the one who carries the veena(musical instrument)
- Shardaa- Supporter of all knowledge
The Swan-Vehicle of Saraswati Devi
The ‘hans’ or swan, if offered a mixture of milk and water, is said to be able to drink the milk alone, leaving the water. It thus symbolizes discriminative power that allows one to make the right choices, and not make the five-fold mistakes of ignorance.
Symbolism of white colour
The iconography of Saraswati Devi is mainly white, from clothing to flowers to swan. White is the color produced by reflecting all seven colours of light found in the visible spectrum. Symbolically white represents truth, purity, peace, protection, and happiness. It is also associated with ‘Satogun’ or purity. Saraswati Devi is the personification of true knowledge, insight, wisdom, fortune, intelligence and intellectual and creative brilliance. The color white also projects feelings of calmness, relaxation and an inner peace with oneself. Sincere worship of this form of the Divine ensures the empowerment of these qualities.
Worship of Saraswati Devi
The festival of Vasant Panchami in which Saraswati Devi is specially worshipped, is observed on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Maagh( January/February). Students, musicians, teachers and others in the field of learning make special sacrifices in the name of Saraswati for continued success. It should be noted however, that everyone is at differing levels of ignorance and therefore, needs the blessings of Saraswati Mata, to uplift them to wisdom. Saraswati worship is for everyone and can be done on other days, apart from Vasant Panchami. It can be done during the Nau Raatri period as well as other days of Devi worship.
Metaphysical interpretation of Saraswati worship
From another perspective, it should also be noted that the Triveni in India comprises the Gangaa and Yamuna Rivers, and the subterranean stream, Saraswati. As these three masses of waters merge at Prayag, similarly, within the subtle body of man three channels of bio-energy flow upwards from the Muladhaara Chakra at the base of the spine, and merge in the Aagyaa Chakra, located in the forehead. These three channels of sustenance: the Ida Naadi, Pingala Naadi and Sushumna Naadi energize the entire body, fortifying it with the requisite energy to successfully carry out all bodily functions. Symbolically represented, Gangaa is representative of the Ida Naadi, the stream of ‘bhakti’ or devotion; the subterranean stream Saraswati is symbolic of the Pingala Naadi, signifying ‘gyaan’-the stream of wisdom, while River Yamuna, the Sushumna Naadi, is representative of ‘karma’-the stream of selfless action. The worship of Saraswati Devi enables this flow of wisdom that takes one out of a state of ignorance to one of empowerment and self-realization.
As we observe the auspicious occasion of Saraswati Jayanti, it is hoped that all would intensify their pursuit of wisdom that would steer them closer to self-realization. The following mantra is a most useful one in the worship of this form of the Divine:
Saraswati Namastubhyam,Varadey Kaamarupinee
Vidyarambham Karishyaami, Sidhir Bhavatu Mein Sadaa.
O Goddess Saraswati, my humble prostrations unto Thee. As I embark on my studies/ventures/tasks/etc. may success always be mine.