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Vasant Pachami: Sarawati Ma

Updated on February 13, 2010

Goddess of the Arts, Music & Wisdom

Someone on face book sent me a quiz which answered this question: If you were a Hindu goddess, which one would you be? I took the quiz, and the answer was: Saraswati Ma! We are celebrating Vasant Pachami, Saraswati's Day. She is the goddess of learning, arts, music, truth, forgiveness, supreme knowledge, literature, education, creativity, enlightenment, power, intelligence, speech and wisdom. The word Saraswati means: "She who has lakes or pools." She was a river in ancient India. Sara means "essence" and swa means "self". So her name means essence of the Self.

This is her most beautiful prayer: "O Goddess Saraswati, white as snow or the moon or the kunda flowers, clothed in white garments, holding the magnificent veena, seated on a white lotus and ever glorified...Protect us from all forms of ignorance." You see, she does not wear a flashy sari. She is about the heart, mind, creativity. What you see is what you get with Saraswati Ma. The swan is her transport, which symbolizes discrimination between the good and the not so good and the eternal and that which fades. The swan can extract milk from the mixture of water and milk. We can acquire knowledge with discrimination for the good of humankind. She is dressed in white on a white lotus, which symbolizes that she is founded in the experience of the Absolute Truth. Purity of true knowledge is what the color symbolizes. She is also connected with yellow, which is the color of the mustard plant which blooms at her festival each year. Her arms represent personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness and ego. Her two front arms represent activity in the physical world, and her two back arms represent activity/presence in the spiritual world. She holds the Vedas, which is the symbol of true knowledge and perfection of the sciences and the scriptures. The mala of white pearls is a symbol of power of meditation and spirituality, union with the Goddess, knowledge acquired with love and devotion. The sacred pot of water represents creative and purifying powers. The veena is a musical instrument which represents perfection of all the arts and sciences and feelings and emotions expressed in speech and music, known as Anurag. Children are taught their first words on this day, for it is considered an auspicious day to begin to learn how to read and write.

Here are two of her most famous stories: THE GANDHARVAS: The Gandharvas were demigods who emerged from the fragrance of the flowers. They stole the Soma plant whose intoxicating and invigorating sap was loved by the devas. The theft of the Soma angered all the gods. Shiva was mad! Saraswati saved the day! She went to the garden of the Ganharvas and with her veena created enchanting tunes: the ragas and ragins. "Give us this music," they cried. "Only if you give back the Soma plant to the devas," Saraswati told them. They returned the Soma plant and learned how to play music from Saraswati. They became celestial musicians whose melodies had more power to rouse the mind than any intoxicant. When Krishna danced on the hood of Kaliya, they were there playing their melodies. SHIVA'S 3rd EYE & THE BEAST OF DOOM: Shiva saw the world on the brink of corruption and being unsaveable. Shiva decided to wipe the slate clean and opened his world-destroying 3rd eye in an attempt to destroy the 3 worlds. There was a terrible fire coming from the eye threatening all existence. Only Saraswati remained calm. She said, "Shiva's fire burns only that which is impure and corrupt." She took the form of a river shielding the world from the dreaded fire from Shiva's 3rd eye. She carried the fire away to the depths of the sea where it became a fire-breathing mare called Badavagni--the Beast of Doom. She said, "As long as the world is pure and humans wise, this terrible creature will remain there. When wisdom is abandoned and humans corrupt the world, Badavagni will emerge and destory the Universe." THE MORALE of the stories: Music, Wisdom and Creativity have the power to transform the world here and now. When we are wise, we create a better world. When we are corrupt and ignorant, we destroy everything we touch. Choose wisdom,music and creativity and Saraswati Ma!

JAI SHRI SARASWATI MA, Radhapriestess

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