Saraswati Puja is one of the most important annual events of India or Bharatiya culture going back centuries – a wonderful festival of art and wisdom that can awaken the higher awareness and creativity within us.
By Dr. David Frawley
It is part of India’s traditional culture of respect for learning, nature and the whole of life. This culture of respect is embodied in various rituals held throughout the year on special days of the Hindu calendar.
Saraswati Puja occurs on the waxing moon that indicates the beginning of spring as Vasant Panchami (Basant Panchami). On this day children are traditionally initiated into the art of writing. The festival is most common in the east of India but has counterparts throughout the country. It is a wonderful educational celebration that brings all people into learning with joy and delight.
Antiquity of Devi Saraswati
Devi Saraswati is one of the oldest and most widely found deity forms in India. She is perhaps the country’s best-known presentation of its many aspects of the Divine Feminine, which are almost unparalleled in the rest of the world.
Saraswati is the great mother of the ancient Vedas, Veda Mata, and their personification, guiding the Rishis of old. Yet she was not just a Goddess, Saraswati was also the primary river of habitation for Vedic and ancient Indian civilization at its origins. The Saraswati River flowed east of the Indus from the Himalayas to the sea, through such famous regions as Kurukshetra, as the Geological Survey of India has recently uncovered.
Devi Saraswati, above all, represents the feminine principle of creation, as the consort of Lord Brahma as the creator. In Vedantic thought, the entire universe arises from Ananda, a flow of love, beauty and bliss from a higher Being and Consciousness. Saraswati represents this expression of Ananda as the rasa or essence behind the magic and mystery of life.
Saraswati, speech and artistic expression
Saraswati as a deity of speech represents the profound Sanskrit language, regarded by many as the most scientific language in the world. Sanskrit is the source of the many mantras used by the dharmic traditions that arose from India, abounding with powerful rhythms and chants.
Honouring Saraswati at a personal level requires honouring speech – speaking with beauty, clarity and truth, aligning our personal speech with the Divine Speech. Her seed mantra AIM awakens the creative expression of the Divine Word within us. If we speak crudely and with dishonest, we lose not only the grace of Saraswati but our own deeper wisdom.
Saraswati represents the feminine principle of art and music as the muse, performer and dancer. Allowing the cosmic feminine principle to fully express itself through all forms of art, without fear or manipulation, is the essence of true culture and the basis of Hindu temple worship.
Saraswati in her symbolism is related to the moon, the poetic face of the Goddess. She carries the Vina indicating not just music but the cosmic vibratory forces that reverberate behind time and space. She is invoked to remove ignorance and inertia from our minds and hearts.
Why should we honour Saraswati today?
Honouring Saraswati today requires that we respect and promote learning, not merely to pass tests in school or to memorise information, but to allow our lives to mirror an enduring creative inspiration that is universal in nature, bringing Self-realisation to all.
In our current mass media era, we forget the wellsprings of creative intelligence inside ourselves. Instead we get caught in disturbed reactions to events in the external world of Maya with its inherent duality and conflict. Going back to our inner vision can enable us to deal with outer challenges with wisdom, adaptability and light. Without our own inner creativity to motivate us, no outer stimulation or entertainment is needed to bring us peace and happiness.
Remembering Saraswati can help us renew our minds and hearts to a deeper expansive cosmic reality and overflowing bliss, taking us which our human world, with its transient gains and losses, is but a shadow.
Saraswati rides her swan, a symbol of beauty, on the peaceful mountain lake of the mind, bestowing the cooling peace of silent meditation. We should honour that receptive essence of consciousness in whatever way stimulates us to transform our lives. That is to truly worship Devi Saraswati. If we honor Saraswati we can go beyond all the turmoil of the human world and bring a flow of etermal grace into all that we do.
This article first appeared in www.vedanet.com and it belongs to them.