Shakti Sadhana
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SARASWATI

Om Aim Saraswatyai Namah
Om Salutations and Prostrations to the Goddess Saraswati!

Saraswati Devi is the classic example of a Goddess whose popularity has survived from Vedic times into modern Hinduism. While many Vedic Goddesses such as Ushas and Aranyani simply disappear in later Hindu tradition, Saraswati Devi not only maintains Her importance; She acquires additional attributes and Her functions expand - from River Goddess to Goddess of Speech, Learning and Wisdom.

Some of Saraswati's Epithets

Impeller of true and sweet speech
Awakener of happy and noble thoughts
Dwelling in the front of the tongue (Jihvagravasini)
She who dwells in sound (Kavijihvagravasini)
Mistress of speech (Vagsisa)
Possessing great speech (Mahavani)
The power of memory (Smrtisaki)
The Power of knowledge (Jnanasaki)
Whose form is the power of intellect (Buddhisaktisvarupini)
She who is intelligence (Pratibha)
The womb or source of the Vedas (Vedagarbha)
Whose form is all the science (Sarvavidyasvarupini)
Who dwells in all books (Sarvasastravasini)
Who causes books to be made (Granthakarini)
Mother of the world (Jaganmata)
Whose form is power or Sakti (Saktirupini)
Containing all form within her (Visvarupa)

Saraswati Stotras
Sree Saraswati Astottara Satanamavali

HER ICONOGRAPHY

There are a huge number of myths concerning Saraswati. The Brahma Purana says the Devi created Sarasvati from Her tongue, and from Her shoulders the science of Love

Despite her association with the Gods -- particularly Brahma -- Saraswati Devi is never with Brahma. Rather, She is always described as being an independent woman and not obliging to the Male Gods. SHE STOOD ALONE.

There is a myths about how Saraswati purposely delayed her presence when Brahma wanted to perform a major fire-sacrifice. Brahma and Saraswati therefore never made any joint offerings to the Fire God as man and wife. Despite much lore depicting Saraswati as married, she never really behaved as a proper "consort" might be expected to. Most often, Saraswati is depicting as living in a kind of self-imposed exile. Instead of channeling her devotion to her husband as prescribed by social norms (i.e., "a good wife is above all a chaste wife"). She uses her sexuality for purposes other than providing for her husband's pleasure and bearing his children. Saraswati instead sublimates Her devotion and directly maintaining a social order via Art and Culture.

Saraswati Devi's attributes come more from Her own role as River Goddess than Her association with any particular Gods. The Early Vedic references make it clear that the Saraswati River originates in heaven and flows down to the Earth. SHE represents the ever flowing stream of celestial grace that purifies and fertilises the earth.

Saraswati's earthly manifestation as a river is just a fractional revelation of her TRUE BEING. This manifestation offers just the slightest hint of Her awesome, heavenly, transcendent dimensions, and of reality in general.

Saraswati: The River and Water as Primordial Womb

The association of Goddess and river/waters are not confined in the Hindu tradition. Major cultures such as Egypt and Mesopotamia life creating waters are embodied as a Goddess. Isis the Great Goddess of Egypt began as River Goddess

In classical Hinduism, India herself is affirmed as the center of the world, the naval of the earth, and the special and sacred location of the divine. Saraswati River is an earliest example of the Hindu traditions of affirming the land itself as holy. Rivers with its waters began to assumed a sacred character especially in its religious ritual. The symbolism of water is rich and complex in the religious of the world, and among the many symbols of India endowed with spirituality, water is the most sacred, at once the purifier and the origin of the mystery. It is the real and imagined source of life . And the role of the water is clearly feminine


"he who was born of old… was born of water.
Right from Waters, the Soul drew forth and shaped a person "
[Katha Upanishad]


In many passage of the Samhitas, the waters functions as the material cause of creation. It became a maternal medium in which either the gods or manifest creation itself is said to gestate until it is ready to be born.

"that which beyond heaven, beyond this earth, beyond the gods and asuras - what first embryo/germ, wherein all the gods beheld each other, did the waters hold ? The waters held that very first embryo/germ where all the gods come together, that one in which all worlds abide, placed on the navel of the unborn"
RV 10.82.5-6



The above passage it clearly states the function of the water as primordial womb in which the gods develop and from which they arise. And as womb it bears all creation in its potential form.

YastE stanah SaSayo yo mayobhUyemma
viSvA pushyasi vAryAni
Yo ratnadhA vasuvidyah sudatrah sarasvati tamiha dhAtave kah


RV 1.164.49

Oh Sarasvati offer the breast of yours for our nourishment here which is on your body, which spreads happiness by which you nourish ( those who praise you ) with all the choicest things, the one which holds all the beautiful things, which knows the enemies' wealth and which offers good gifts.




Yaa Kundendu tushaara haaradhavalaa, Yaa shubhravastraavritha|
Yaa veenavara dandamanditakara, Yaa shwetha padmaasana||
Yaa brahmaachyutha shankara prabhritibhir Devaisadaa Vanditha|
Saa Maam Paatu Saraswatee Bhagavatee Nihshesha jaadyaapahaa||

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.




Let the Divine Saraswati, Who is as fair as the garland of moons rays, who is clad in white garments, who is carrying a Veena (lute) in her hands ( whose hands look beautiful bearing the Veena gracefully), Who is setting on a white lotus, who is always prayed to by Gods led by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahes and who destroys all lethargy; May she protect Us' being fond of white, she is as pure and unblemished as the white colour. By worshipping her, we acquire peace. She is worshipped by all Gods; as she is an authority, not only of academic learning, but also of fine arts, like music and dance. She uses a peacock or a white swan as her carrier, a fan as emblem of fine arts. Saraswati makes human beings, thoughful, and rids and mind of all lethargy. Her worship makes one modest, ever ready to fight injustice and a belief in equality, fraternity and freedom.





O fair complexioned, Whose supreme attribute is the essence of Brahma
knowledge, one who holds a Veena and a book, one who awards fearless adn destroys the gloom of ignorance, who holds a garland of quartz, who is seated on the lotus throne, I pray to that Parmeshwari Bhagvati, Knowledge giver SARDA


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pAcakA nah sarasvati vAjebhirvAjinIvatI
Yajnam VashTu dhiyAvasuh

May Saraswati be our purifier, May she who holds food offer us food,
the holder of wealth may desire yajna
RV 1.3.10
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We pray to you ( Saraswati ) that your roaring thunders ( moving over the whole universe, decorating the world and electrified), may not destroy or fertility.
They Should cause no destruction amongest our progeny.
The hot rays of the sun should not harm our crops.
May you be so kind
R.Veda 7.1.11

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O Goddess Saraswati,
your motherliness is peace giver, giver of comfort,
the awardee of pious waters, nourishing and prayer worthy,
May you give that boon to us
Rg Veda 7.1.10

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A yat sAkam yaSay vAvaSnAh Sarasvati saptathI sindhum Ata
YAh sushvayanta sudughah sudhArA abhi svena payasA pIpyanah
( RV 7.36.6)

May the seventh ( stream), Sarasvati, the mother of the Sindhu
and those rivers that flow copious and fertilizing, bestowing abundance of food, and nourishing ( the people) by their waters, come at once together.



From the role of the river goddess, Saraswati gradually acquire more attributes and becoming known as Vac Goddess. This evolutional role of Saraswati was a gradual one and a natural process because vedic culture and poetry flourished along the River.

Vac "speech" in the Rig Veda are being described as abiding in the highest heaven. Vac has a divine, transcendent aspect as well as an earthly dimensions.
I am queen, gatherer of riches, knowing, the first among those worthy of being honoured.
I am SHE, having many stations and much bestowing, whom the gods have distributed in many places
Through me, he who discerns, who breathes, who indeed hears what is said, eat his food. Though ignorant ( of this) they dwell in me.
Hear that you are heard! What I tell you is to be believed
I, Myself, say this welcome news to gods and men. he whom I love, I make him powerful. I make him a brahmin. I make him a seer . I make him wise... I have entered into heaven and earth. I bring forth the father at the summit of this creation. My womb is within the waters, in the ocean. Thence I extend over all worlds, and I touch heaven with my uppermost part.
I also blow forth like the wind, reaching all the worlds. Beyond heaven, beyond the earth, so great have i become through my grandeur

Rig Veda 10.125

Thus through this hymns we can see the association of Vac and Water and an indication that waters are an aspect of Vac. In Rig Veda 1.164.41-42, Vac is the source of the primordial waters that form the subtle material matrix of creation

Despite its constant reference in the Rig Veda, by the time of the Mahabharata and the laws of Manu ( ca first to third centuries A.D) Saraswati had ceased to exist. Nothing is said in the rig Veda of Saraswati's disappearance. What is left are the Archeological evidences discovered all along the Ghaggar River River, regarded by some as the ancient Saraswati.

It is said that all the three rivers : Saraswati, Ganga and Yamuna meets at Prayag ( Allahabad ) and that Ganga and Yamuna is visible to all, Saraswati only to the spiritually enlightened.

Many Scholars believe the disappearance of Saraswati is due to the the drying up of the River, which then leads to the migration of people eastwards to Ganga-Yamuna and southwards from the Rann of Kutch and Pravara river valley along the Arabian Sea Coast. Another myths says of a curse (Enter link on Saraswati other Myths)

Along with this migration, they carry with them the culture and tradition that have long flourished along the Saraswati River. They never forgets the very place where it begins, thus the devotion towards Saraswati as "The Beginning".

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Maha Saraswati
Maatangi : Tantrik Form of Saraswati
Other Mythological Aspects of Saraswati
Lakshmi and Saraswati - Tales in Mythology and Art



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