is the Goddess of leaming, knowledge, and wisdom. The Sanskrit word sara
means "essence" and swa means "self." Thus Saraswati means "the essence
of the self." Saraswati is represented in Hindu mythology as the divine
consort of Lord Brahma, the Creator of the universe. Since knowledge is
necessary for creation, Saraswati symbolizes the creative power of Brahma.
Goddess Saraswati is worshipped by all persons interested in knowledge,
especially students, teachers, scholars, and scientists.
In Her popular images
and pictures, Goddess Saraswati is generally depicted with four arms (some
pictures may show only two arms), wearing a white sari and seated on a
white lotus. She holds a book and a rosary in Her rear two hands, while
the front two hands are engaged in the playing of a lute (veena). Her right
leg is shown slightly pushing against Her left leg. She uses a swan as
Her vehicle. There is a peacock by Her side gazing at Her. This symbolism
illustrates the following spiritual ideas:
- Bansi Pandit
The lotus is a symbol of
the Supreme Reality, and a white lotus also denotes supreme knowledge.
By sitting on a lotus, Saraswati signifies that She is Herself rooted in
the Supreme Reality, and symbolizes supreme knowledge. The white color
symbolizes purity and knowledge. The white sari that the Goddess is wearing
denotes that She is the embodiment of pure knowledge.
The four amms denote Her
omnipresence and omnipotence. The two front amms indicate Her activity
in the physical world and the two back arms signify Her presence in the
spiritual world. The four hands represent the four elements of the inner
personality. The mind (manas) is represented by the front right hand, the
intellect (buddhi) by the front left hand, the conditioned consciousness
(chitta) by the rear left hand, and the ego (ahankara) by the rear right
The left side of the body
symbolizes the qualities of the heart and the right side symbolizes activities
of the mind and intellect. A book in the rear left hand signifies that
knowledge acquired must be used with love and kindness to promote prosperity
The rosary signifies concentration,
meditation, and contemplation, leading to samadhi, or union with God. A
rosary in the rear right hand representing ego conveys that true knowledge
acquired with love and devotion melts the ego and results in liberation
(moksha) of the seeker from the bondage to the physical world.
The Goddess is shown playing
a musical instrument that is held in Her front hands, which denote mind
and intellect. This symbol 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 utilize acquired knowledge for the welfare
of all mankind.
Two swans are depicted
on the left side of the Goddess. A swan is said to have a sensitive beak
that enables it to distinguish pure milk from a mixture of milk and water.
A swan, therefore, symbolizes the power of discrimination, or the ability
to discriminate between right and wrong or good and bad. Saraswati uses
the swan as Her carrier. This indicates that one must acquire and apply
knowledge with discrimination for the good of mankind. Knowledge that is
dominated by ego can destroy the world.
A peacock is sitting next
to Saraswati and is anxiously waiting to serve as Her vehicle. A peacock
depicts unpredictable behavior as its moods can be influenced by the changes
in the weather. Saraswati is using a swan as a vehicle and not the peacock.
This signifies that one should overcome fear, indecision, and fickleness
in order to acquire true knowledge.