|Goddess of Art, Knowledge, Music, Wisdom, and Learning|
Saraswati by "Raja Ravi Varma
|Affiliation||"Devi, "Tridevi, "Adi parashakti|
|Region||"South Asia, "Southeast Asia, "Tibet and "Japan|
|Festivals||"Vasant Panchami, "Navratri, "Diwali|
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Saraswati ("Sanskrit: सरस्वती, Sarasvatī) is the "Hindu "goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom, and learning worshipped throughout "Nepal and "India. She is a part of the trinity ("Tridevi) of Saraswati, "Lakshmi and "Parvati. All the three forms help the trinity of "Brahma, "Vishnu and "Shiva to create, maintain and regenerate-recycle the Universe respectively.
The earliest known mention of Saraswati as a goddess is in the "Rigveda. She has remained significant as a goddess from the Vedic period through modern times of Hindu traditions. Some Hindus celebrate the festival of "Vasant Panchami (the fifth day of spring) in her honour, and mark the day by helping young children learn how to write alphabets on that day. The Goddess is also revered by believers of the "Jain religion of west and central "India, as well as some Buddhist sects.
Saraswati, sometimes spelled Sarasvati, is a Sanskrit fusion word of sāra (सार) which means "essence", and sva (स्व) which means "one self", the fused word meaning "essence of one self" and Saraswati meaning "one who leads to essence of self-knowledge". It is also a Sanskrit composite word of surasa-vati (सुरस-वति) which means "one with plenty of water".
The word Saraswati appears both as a reference to a river and as a significant deity in the "Rigveda. In initial passages, the word refers to the "Sarasvati River and is mentioned as one among several northwestern Indian rivers such as the "Drishadvati. Saraswati, then, connotes a river deity. In Book 2, the Rigveda describes Saraswati as the best of mothers, of rivers, of goddesses.
अम्बितमे नदीतमे देवितमे सरस्वति |
– Rigveda 2.41.16
Best Mother, best of Rivers, best of Goddesses, Sarasvatī, We are, as ’twere, of no repute and dear Mother, give thou us renown.
Saraswati is celebrated as a feminine deity with healing and purifying powers of abundant, flowing waters in Book 10 of the Rigveda, as follows:
अपो अस्मान मातरः शुन्धयन्तु घर्तेन नो घर्तप्वः पुनन्तु |
विश्वं हि रिप्रं परवहन्ति देविरुदिदाभ्यः शुचिरापूत एमि ||
– Rigveda 10.17
May the waters, the mothers, cleanse us,
may they who purify with butter, purify us with butter,
for these goddesses bear away defilement,
I come up out of them pure and cleansed.
–Translated by John Muir
In Vedic literature, Saraswati acquires the same significance for early Indians (states "John Muir) as that accredited to the river "Ganges by their modern descendants. In hymns of Book 10 of Rigveda, she is already declared to be the "possessor of knowledge". Her importance grows in Vedas composed after Rigveda and in Brahmanas, and the word evolves in its meaning from "waters that purify", to "that which purifies", to "vach (speech) that purifies", to "knowledge that purifies", and ultimately into a spiritual concept of a goddess that embodies knowledge, arts, music, melody, muse, language, rhetoric, eloquence, creative work and anything whose flow purifies the essence and self of a person. In "Upanishads and "Dharma Sastras, Saraswati is invoked to remind the reader to meditate on virtue, virtuous emoluments, the meaning and the very essence of one's activity, one's action. Some may wonder as to what would be the relation of Saraswati and Lord Vishnu. She is a very close relative of Thirumal.
Saraswati is known by many names in ancient Hindu literature. Some examples of synonyms for Saraswati include "Brahmani (power of Brahma), Brahmi (goddess of sciences), Bharadi (goddess of history), Vani and Vachi (both referring to the flow of music/song, melodious speech, eloquent speaking respectively), Varnesvari (goddess of letters), Kavijihvagravasini (one who dwells on the tongue of poets).
In the "Nepali language, her name is written "Nepali: सरस्वती. In the "Telugu, Sarasvati is also known as Chaduvula Thalli (చదువుల తల్లి) and Shārada (శారద). In "Konkani, she is referred to as Shārada, Veenapani, Pustaka dharini, Vidyadāyini. In "Kannada, variants of her name include Sharade, Sharadamba, Vāni, Veenapani in the famous "Sringeri temple. In "Tamil, she is also known as Kalaimagal (கலைமகள்), Kalaivāni (கலைவாணி), Vāni (வாணி) and Bharathi. She is also addressed as Shāradā (the one who loves the "autumn season), Veenā pustaka dharani (the one holding books and a "Veena), Vākadevi, Vāni (both meaning "goddess of speech"), Varadhanāyaki (the one bestowing boons), Sāvitri (consort of Brahma), Gāyatri (mother of Vedas).["citation needed]
Outside Nepal and India, she is known in "Burmese as Thurathadi (သူရဿတီ, pronounced "[θùja̰ðədì] or "[θùɹa̰ðədì]) or "Tipitaka Medaw (တိပိဋကမယ်တော်, pronounced "[tḭpḭtəka̰ mɛ̀dɔ̀]), in "Chinese as Biàncáitiān (辯才天), in "Japanese as "Benzaiten (弁才天/弁財天) and in "Thai as Suratsawadi (สุรัสวดี) or Saratsawadi (สรัสวดี).
Saraswati is found in almost every major ancient and medieval Indian literature between 1000 BC to 1500 AD. In Hindu tradition, she has retained her significance as a goddess from the Vedic age up to the present day. In "Shanti Parva of the Hindu epic "Mahabharata, Saraswati is called the mother of the Vedas, and later as the celestial creative symphony who appeared when Brahma created the universe. In Book 2 of Taittiriya "Brahmana, she is called the mother of eloquent speech and melodious music. Saraswati is the active energy and power of Brahma. She is also mentioned in many minor Sanskrit publications such as "Sarada Tilaka of 8th century AD as follows,
May the goddess of speech enable us to attain all possible eloquence,
she who wears on her locks a young moon,
who shines with exquisite lustre,
who sits reclined on a white lotus,
and from the crimson cusp of whose hands pours,
radiance on the implements of writing, and books produced by her favour.
– On Saraswati, Sarada Tilaka
Saraswati became a prominent deity in Buddhist iconography – the consort of "Manjushri in 1st millennium AD. In some instances such as in the Sadhanamala of Buddhist pantheon, she has been symbolically represented similar to regional Hindu iconography, but unlike the more well known depictions of Saraswati.
The goddess Saraswati is often depicted as a beautiful woman dressed in pure white, often seated on a white "lotus, which symbolizes light, knowledge and truth. She not only embodies knowledge but also the experience of the highest reality. Her iconography is typically in white themes from dress to flowers to swan – the colour symbolizing Sattwa Guna or purity, discrimination for true knowledge, insight and wisdom.
Her dhyana mantra describes her to be as white as the moon, clad in a white dress, bedecked in white ornaments, radiating with beauty, holding a book & a pen in her hands. The book & the pen represent knowledge["citation needed]
She is generally shown to have four arms, but sometimes just two. When shown with four hands, those hands symbolically mirror her husband Brahma's four heads, representing manas (mind, sense), buddhi (intellect, reasoning), citta (imagination, creativity) and ahamkāra (self consciousness, ego). Brahma represents the abstract, she action and reality.
The four hands hold items with symbolic meaning — a pustaka (book or script), a mālā (rosary, garland), a water pot and a musical instrument (vīnā). The book she holds symbolizes the "Vedas representing the universal, divine, eternal, and true knowledge as well as all forms of learning. A "mālā of crystals, representing the power of meditation, inner reflection and spirituality. A pot of water represents the purifying power to separate right from wrong, the clean from the unclean, and essence from the inessential. In some texts, the pot of water is symbolism for "soma - the drink that liberates and leads to knowledge. The most famous feature on Saraswati is a musical instrument called a "veena, represents all creative arts and sciences, and her holding it symbolizes expressing knowledge that creates harmony. Saraswati is also associated with anurāga, the love for and rhythm of music, which represents all emotions and feelings expressed in speech or music.
A hamsa or "swan is often located next to her feet. In "Hindu mythology, the hamsa is a sacred bird, which if offered a mixture of milk and water, is said to be able to drink the milk alone. It thus symbolizes the ability to discriminate between good and evil, essence from outward show and the eternal from the evanescent. Due to her association with the swan, Saraswati is also referred to as Hamsavāhini, which means "she who has a hamsa as her vehicle". The swan is also a symbolism for spiritual perfection, transcendence and moksha.
Sometimes a citramekhala (also called mayura, "peacock) is shown beside the goddess. The peacock symbolizes colorful splendor, celebration of dance, and - as the devourer of snakes - the alchemical ability to transmute the serpent poison of self into the radiant plumage of enlightenment.
She is usually depicted near a flowing river or other body of water, which depiction may constitute a reference to her early history as a river goddess.
In some regions of India, such as "Vindhya, "Odisha, "West Bengal and "Assam, as well as east Nepal, Saraswati is part of the "Devi Mahatmya mythology, in the trinity ("Tridevi) of "Mahakali, "Mahalakshmi and "Mahasaraswati. This is one of many different Hindu legends that attempt to explain how Hindu trinity of gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) and "goddesses (Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati) came into being. Various "Purana texts offer alternate legends for Maha Saraswati.
Maha Saraswati is depicted as eight-armed and is often portrayed holding a Veena whilst sitting on a white lotus flower.
Mahasaraswati is also part of another legend, the Navdurgas, or nine forms of Durga, revered as powerful and dangerous goddesses in eastern India. They have special significance on "Navaratri in these regions. All of these are seen ultimately as aspects of a single great Hindu goddess, with Maha Saraswati as one of those nine.
In Tibet and parts of India, Nilasaraswati is a form of "Mahavidya "Tara. Nila Saraswati is a different deity from traditional Saraswati, yet subsumes her knowledge and creative energy in tantric literature. Nila Sarasvati is the ugra (angry, violent, destructive) manifestation in one school of Hinduism, while the more common Saraswati is the saumya (calm, compassionate, productive) manifestation found in most others. In tantric literature of the former, Nilasaraswati has a 100 names. There are separate dhyana shlokas and "mantras for her worship in "Tantrasara.
There are many temples dedicated to Saraswati around the world. Some notable temples include the "Gnana Saraswati Temple in "Basar on the banks of the River "Godavari, the Warangal Saraswati and Shri Saraswati Kshetramu temples in Medak, "Telangana. In "Karnataka, one of many Saraswati/Sharada pilgrimage spots is "Shringeri Sharadamba Temple. In "Ernakulam district of "Kerala, there is a famous Saraswati temple in North Paravur, namely "Dakshina Mookambika Temple North Paravur. In Tamil Nadu, "Koothanur hosts a Saraswati temple about 25 kilometres from Tiruvarur. In her identity as "Brahmani, "additional Sarasvati temples can be found throughout Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
In "West Bengal, Saraswati is worshipped on Vasant Panchami, a Hindu festival celebrated every year on the 5th day in the Hindu calendar month of "Magha (about February). Hindus celebrate this festival in temples, homes and educational institutes alike.
Saraswati Puja calendar:["citation needed]
In "Kerala and "Tamil Nadu, the last three days of the Navaratri festival, i.e., Ashtami, Navami, and Dashami, are celebrated as Sarasvati Puja. The celebrations start with the Puja Vypu (Placing for Worship). It consists of placing the books for puja on the Ashtami day. It may be in one's own house, in the local nursery school run by traditional teachers, or in the local temple. The books will be taken out for reading, after worship, only on the morning of the third day (Vijaya Dashami). It is called Puja Eduppu (Taking [from] Puja). Children are happy, since they are not expected to study on these days. On the Vijaya Dashami day, Kerala celebrates the Ezhuthiniruthu or Initiation of Writing for the little children before they are admitted to nursery schools. This is also called Vidyarambham. The child is made to write for the first time on the rice spread in a plate with the index finger, guided by an elder of the family or by a teacher.
In "Burma, the Shwezigon Mon Inscription dated to be of 1084 AD, near Bagan, recites the name Saraswati as follows,
In Buddhist arts of Myanmar, she is called Thurathadi (or Thayéthadi).:215 Students in Myanmar pray for her blessings before their exams.:327 She is also believed to be, in Mahayana pantheon of Myanmar, the protector of Buddhist scriptures.
The concept of Saraswati migrated from India, through China to Japan, where she appears as Benzaiten (弁財天). Worship of Benzaiten arrived in Japan during the 6th through 8th centuries. She is often depicted holding a "biwa, a traditional Japanese lute musical instrument. She is enshrined on numerous locations throughout Japan such as the Kamakura's "Zeniarai Benzaiten Ugafuku Shrine or Nagoya's "Kawahara Shrine; the three biggest shrines in Japan in her honour are at the "Enoshima Island in Sagami Bay, the "Chikubu Island in Lake Biwa, and the "Itsukushima Island in Seto Inland Sea.
Saraswati was honoured with invocations among Hindus of Angkorian "Cambodia, suggests a tenth-century and another eleventh-century inscription. She and Brahma are referred to in Cambodian epigraphy from the 7th century onwards, and she is praised by Khmer poets for being goddess of eloquence, writing and music. More offerings were made to her than to her husband Brahma. She is also referred to as Vagisvari and Bharati in Yasovarman era Khmer literature.
In ancient Thai literature, Saraswati ("Thai: สุรัสวดี; "rtgs: Suratsawadi) is the goddess of speech and learning, and consort of Brahma. Over time, Hindu and Buddhist concepts on deities merged in Thailand. Icons of Saraswati with other deities of India are found in old Thai "wats. Amulets with Saraswati and a peacock are also found in Thailand.
Saraswati is an important goddess in Balinese Hinduism. She shares the same attributes and iconography as Saraswati in Hindu literature of India - in both places, she is the goddess of knowledge, creative arts, wisdom, language, learning and purity. In "Bali, she is celebrated on Saraswati day, one of the main festivals for Hindus in Indonesia. The day marks the close of 210-day year in the Pawukon calendar.
On Saraswati day, people make offerings in the form of flowers in temples and to sacred texts. The day after Saraswati day, is Banyu Pinaruh, a day of cleansing. On this day, Hindus of Bali go to the sea, sacred waterfalls or river spots, offer prayers to Saraswati, and then rinse themselves in that water in the morning. Then they prepare a feast, such as the traditional bebek betutu and nasi kuning, that they share.
The Saraswati Day festival has a long history in Bali. It has become more widespread in Hindu community of Indonesia in recent decades, and it is celebrated with theatre and dance performance.
In Tibet, she is known as Yang chen ma (Singing/Music Goddess), or Yang chen drolma (Singing/Music Tara) considered the consort of "Mañjuśri, Buddha of Wisdom, she is one of the 21 "Taras.
Saraswati is the Divine Embodiment & bestower of Enlightened Eloquence & Inspiration, patroness of the arts, sciences, music, language, literature, history, poetry & philosophy, all those engaged in creative endeavours in Tibetan Buddhism. She is considered the peaceful manifestation of Palden Lhamo(Glorious Goddess). In the Gelugpa tradition, Palden Lhamo is known as Magzor Gyalmo(the Queen who Repels Armies) and is a wrathful emanation of Saraswati while being a protector. Saraswati was the yidam (principal personal meditational deity) of 14th Century Tibetan monk Je Tsongkhapa. She is believed in the Tibetan tradition to have accompanied him on his travels, as well as regularly engaging in conversations with him.["citation needed]
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