Saraswati the Hindu Goddess ::By: Dr. Manik Lal Maji


By: Dr. Manik Lal Maji

Saraswati is the hindu goddess of learning, knowledge, speach, wisdom, music, art, poem, and culture, etc. Majority people worship the image of Saraswati on the 5th day of bright fortnight of lunar month ‘Magha’, though in some places priests worship the goddess throughout the year. There are several forms of the images. The people of east-India worship the image of Saraswati having two hands, one hand hold a string instrumant called ‘Veena’ and other hand hold a sacred book.  But  people of other places in  India worship the four-handed Saraswati, in two hands she holds the veena, in one hand she hold a book and in another hand she hold a garland as a prayer beads. In some cases the fourth hand contains a red lotus. In some cases Saraswati has more than four hands. The white coloured Saraswati wearing a white dress is seated on a white lotus. Her ‘Bahana’ (vehicle) is a white swan. White garland of pearls sorrounds her neck.The bramhins, the priest class of hindu, can only worship the goddess. Other people after taking their birth and wearing clean dresses offer their reverence, praising Saraswati by chanting some definit eulogying words or poem which is called ‘Anjali Mantra’. This mantra includes their prayer for better knowledge and intelligence. Then they offer some flowers and particular leafs to the leg of the goddess.Some hindu monks and philosophers of modern age tried to explain the view of ancient people about that particular form of image. One of the explanation is: the white colour of Saraswati is the symbol of pure knowledge and lotus represents the supreme knowledge that was first realised by the monks of the period of Upanishada. Among the four hands, the front right and left hands represent mind and intellect. The rear right hand represents ‘Ahankar’ (ego) and rear left hand represents ‘Chitta’ (conciousness).  The rose-coloured lotus in hand represents the achievement of ‘moksha’ with the help of concentration, meditation  and contemplation. The musical instrument, ‘Veena’ represents the mind-intellect harmony which is necessary to achieve the proper knowledge. The explanation of this type is probable due to the necessity of very much involvement of these subjects during learning, work of art, etc. The garland in hand probably represents the culture of the subject of knowledge.From a mythology it is learnt that Saraswati is a daughter Lord Shiva and goddess Durga. From the analysis of the excavation of Harappa and Mohenjo daro it is known that Shiva and durga were worshiped at that age. But no evidence was obtained about the worship of goddess Saraswati during that period. After that period, in the Rig veda, several hymns of Saraswati are seen. But these Saraswati was adored as a holy river. In the 95th hymn of 7th chapter of Rig veda it is stated that Saraswati is a holy river. She gave Nahusa, one of her worshiper, plenty wealth, milk and ghee. May Saraswati be kind enough to listen our hymn. When one implore with kneeling down and  reverence to her, she becomes most kind to those she loveth etc. In the 10th mantra, 3rd hymn, 1st chapter of Rig veda she was described as holy-saraswati enriched with hymn and give wealth to the worshipper. On the other hand, in the 71th hymn, 10th  chapte, it is stated that ‘Brihaspati’ first gave the name of objects and he sent out Vaka to realise utterness. This is the first step to learn language. Rishis, the wise persons, have created language from their inner realisation. A person will heartily treasure all the excellent and spotless knowledge. Though all cannot realise the purport of a subject, the language expose herself to some curious person. They can realise the true purport. This indicate that, during vedic age, Saraswati was not the goddess of learning. Regarding her idols it is learnt that several distinguished wise persons like Winternitz, Maxmular, A. Macdonell etc. stated that “The religion of the Veda knows no idols.” Therefore it may be concluded that the goddess Saraswati became the goddess of learning after a period of  veda, probably at the mythological period ie  Purana.In India people of different areas call the goddess Saraswati in different names. In Telugu language she is also known as Chanduvula Thalli, Sharada. In Tamil, she is called by Kalaimagal, Kalaivaani, Vaani, Veena Pustaka dharini, Vaakdevi, Vani. In Konkani, She is called by Vidyadayini, Veenapani, Pustaka dharini, Sarada. In Kannada, She is known as Sharada, Sharadamba, Vani, Vinapani.The goddess of learning, knowledge, and wisdom are or were not only worshipped in India but people of several countries of the world do or did it. In Burmese she known as Thurathadi, in Japanese as Benzaiten, in Thai as Surasawadee. According to Australian mythology, the god of earthy knowledge and intelligence is Jar’Edo Wens. As the Greek mythology states, Athena was the goddess of wisdom, art etc.  The mythology of Rome  express that Appollo was the god of knowledge, intellect, etc.So the people of different countries realise that knowledge, learning, wisdom are vital for living in the earth. Some persons worship the goddess of knowledge to get blessings of the supernatural power. In addition to this, the enlightened persons use the modern techniques for the betterment of the education of their children.

Reference : Rigveda & internet

Author: Manik Lal Maji, M.Sc., Ph.D., is a retired college teacher (Reader) in Physics. His present    residential address is: ‘Aikatan apartment’, 2nd fl-C, AG-177, Rabindrapally, Kestopur, Kolkata-700101. Mobile No.: (0)9734088198. E-mail : His different papers were published in the different magazines of West Benga and Tripura. Two books, ‘Mon o smritibiddhi’ and ‘Moner uttorone vaidik sadhana’ were published from Kolkata.       



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