Goddess Saraswati is Goddess of art, music, culture, wisdom, creativity and philosophy. In India, we celebrate Saraswati Puja or Vasant Panchmi on 5th day of bright fortnight of lunar month of Magha (which falls during January to February). It is believed that birth of Goddess Saraswati took place on Vasant Panchmi. On this auspicious day, we do worship of Goddess Saraswati, offer her flowers, fruits and sweets. Beautiful idols of Goddess Saraswati are crafted and decorated with flowers, colorful clothes and jewelries. Students also believe that offering their books and notebooks to Goddess Saraswati on this pious day increases the reservoir of knowledge and wisdom.
Goddess Saraswati – Symbolic Description
Goddess Saraswati is often depicted with four hands. Two hands are holding Veena(a musical instrument).one hand is holding a book(Vedas). Some pictures depict the other hand holding rosary and some depict a pen (kalam). The persona of Goddess Saraswati can be understood from spiritual description.
Four hands: Four hands of Goddess Saraswati denote the four directions i.e east, west, north and south. Four hands also point to her omnipresence and omnipotence. Her two front hands can be related to the material or physical world. The rear two hands point towards the spiritual world. The four hands denote control of mind (manas), intellect(buddhi), consciousness(chitta) and ego(ahankara) which is very important for leading a balanced and bliss full life.
White attire and white Lotus: The white sari of Goddess Saraswati denotes that she is manifestation of pure knowledge. White color itself denotes purity and is always associated with wisdom and knowledge. White lotus is a symbol of eternal fact. The goddess sits on white lotus which signifies that her roots are mingled with divine and eternal origin.
White swans: Swan is believed to have a specially enabled beak by the use of which they can distinguish between milk and water even when mixed together. They are symbolic of the knowledge and ability to distinguish between good and bad even when mixed together in this physical world. These white swans who were seen as carriers of Goddess Saraswati motivate mankind to be like him and always apply knowledge and wisdom in order to differentiate between good or bad in life.
Peacock: Peacock is also seen sitting beside Goddess Saraswati. Peacock is representative of mundane knowledge which leads to worldly desires. But she refuses to accept the peacock as her vehicle. Peacock is symbol of grace, beauty and charm. The denial of Goddess to take him as her vehicle teaches mankind that beauty and physical attraction is mortal and deceptive and mankind should be careful to net get carried away with that. For acquiring knowledge and peace, man must choose wisely for his vehicle as the Goddess chose.
Veena(musical instrument): The Goddess is often seen holding Veena in her hands. Veena is a musical instrument which needs utmost care while playing it. One should stir the strings of Veena very mildly and in a moderate speed. If it is played with high speed stirring, the strings would break. Even when played very slowly, it cannot produce music. The same logic can be interpreted in our life. Don’t stir strings of your life too mildly or too fastly. Make it moderate and it will lead to creation of a very blissful music of your life and harmony to the mankind.
Vedas(books): The Goddess is holding books in her rear left hand. The left side of body is indicator of emotions and heartfelt feelings. Thus, it depicts the fact that the knowledge gained through rigorous hard work must be implemented and practiced with love and pure heart for the upliftment of mankind.
Rosary and pen: The Goddess Saraswati is seen holding rosary in her rear right hand which is symbolic of meditation, concentration and contemplation. Rosary also signifies the fact that acquired knowledge should not bring ego in your mind. This rosary is symbolic of dissolving away that ego and thus only pure and eternal knowledge should remain in your soul.
In some pictures, Goddess Saraswati is seen as holding a pen in her rear right hand which is symbolic of creativity, knowledge and art. The pen in her hand emphasizes the fact that she is Goddess of Creativity, art, knowledge, learning and wisdom.
Brahma Vaivarta Purana
As Brahma Vaivarta Purana states,Goddess Saraswati is related with Lord Krishna. Once Krishna felt an urge for creativity and thus he split into two halves, one half became Radha. Their union resulted in production of fertile egg which Radha threw carelessly in water. Krishna criticized her act and cursed her with everlasting youth and infertility. Suddenly, one daughter emerged from the tongue of Radha with white complexion wearing white clothes and bright jewels. She was holding a Veena and a book in her hands. Radha again parted into two parts and her other half was Kamala or Laxmi. Then, Krishna also parted into two parts and his left side gave rise to Lord Vishnu with four hands. Krishna handed over Saraswati and Laxmi as wives to Lord Vishnu.
Brahma Vaivarta Purana also reveals another interesting story of Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Ganga. Ganga and Saraswati both were married to Lord Vishnu. Once, Ganga and Lord Vishnu were exchanging passionate glances between them. As Saraswati was also his wife, this made her very uncomfortable. Goddess Saraswati blamed Vishnu for partiality. To this, Vishnu left the place very calmly to avoid this unpleasant situation. Goddess Saraswati’s anger even grew more and she began fighting with Ganga for this. In the meanwhile, Laxmi held Saraswati away from Ganga. This gave rise to the outburst of Goddess Saraswati and she cursed Goddess Laxmi for this. When Lord Vishnu came to know this, he was very angry and he cursed both Ganga and Saraswati to be transformed into rivers on the earth. He also left both of them and gave them to others as wives. Ganga was given to Lord Shiva and Saraswati was given to Lord Brahma.
According to Matsya Puran, Lord Brahma was the creator of Satarupa or Saraswati. He later on felt captivated towards her beauty and grace. He started gazing at her with deep passion. This made the Goddess very uncomfortable, so she moved to the right of Lord Brahma. But, Brahma created his second head to watch her. The Goddess again moved to the left and Brahma crafted his third head so that he should not miss sight of her face. In this fashion, the Goddess kept moving and Brahma was creating his heads. Finally, the Goddess went up very high in the sky to get rid of lustful gaze of Lord Brahma and Brahma created his 5th head. So, this is the story of creation of 5 heads of Brahma due to Goddess Saraswati.