Saraswati – Hamsavahini
When I was searching for information about swans myth of mating for life for my “Swans” post, I bumped into this wiki about Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music and the arts in Hinduism and Buddhism. I am Christian and I don’t believe in these gods and goddesses, but if I would choose a goddess to be like a role model, she would be it!
So who is she?
In the Rigveda, Saraswati is a river as well as its personification as a goddess. In the post-Vedic age, she began to lose her status as a river goddess and became increasingly associated with literature, arts, music, etc. In Hinduism, Saraswati represents intelligence, consciousness, cosmic knowledge, creativity, education, enlightenment, music, the arts, and power. Hindus worship her not only for “secular knowledge”, but for “divine knowledge” essential to achieve moksha (“release”, “let loose, let go”).
How does she look?
The goddess Saraswati is often depicted as a beautiful woman dressed in pure white often seated on a white lotus, which symbolizes that she is founded in the experience of the Absolute Truth. Thus, she not only has the knowledge but also the experience of the Highest Reality. She is mainly associated with the color white, which signifies the purity of true knowledge. Occasionally, however, she is also associated with the colour yellow, the colour of the flowers of the mustard plant that bloom at the time of her festival in the spring. She is not adorned heavily with jewels and gold, unlike the goddess Lakshmi, but is dressed modestly — representing her preference of knowledge over worldly material things. She is generally shown to have four arms, which represent the four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness, and ego.
Saraswati is also associated with anurāga, the love for and rhythm of music which represents all emotions and feelings expressed in speech or music. It is believed that children born with that name will prove to be very lucky in their studies.
The beautiful human form of Saraswati comes to the fore in this English translation of the Saraswati hymn:
“May Goddess Saraswati, who is fair like the jasmine-colored moon, and whose pure white garland is like frosty dew drops, who is adorned in radiant white attire, on whose beautiful arm rests the veena, and whose throne is a white lotus,who is surrounded and respected by the Gods, protect me. May you fully remove my lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance.”
A hamsa or swan is often located next to her feet. The sacred bird, if offered a mixture of milk and water, is said to be able to drink the milk alone. It thus symbolizes discrimination between the good and the bad or the eternal and the evanescent. Due to her association with the bird, Saraswati is also referred to as Hamsavahini, which means “she who has a hamsa as her vehicle”.
She is usually depicted near a flowing river, which may be related to her early history as a river goddess.
Sometimes a peacock is shown beside the goddess. The peacock represents arrogance and pride over its beauty, and by having a peacock as her mount, the Goddess teaches not to be concerned with external appearance and to be wise regarding the eternal truth.
How is she worshiped?
In Hindu beliefs, great significance is attached to offering honey to this goddess, as honey is representative of perfect knowledge. In India there are four festivals dedicated to her, in different months! Jan-Feb, Sept-Oct etc.
Should I say more why I really like this goddess? ;)) I think I already mentioned many common interests in my previous posts (search for words like colours, music, river, swan, education, wise, honey, money, looks& body & perfect imperfect & external appearance etc and you’ll have some starting leads ;))
Now, besides the Holi festival of colours, I want to experience also one of these celebrations in India, one day, some day 🙂