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Educative import of Saraswati

On Saraswati puja day last week, a visitor asked: “Vedanta, the founding stone of Indian philosophy hypothesises a singular formless and attribute-less Primordial-Source where from the creation chain took off. But at the same time we worship various form-gods, seeking boons for fulfilment of desires. Are the two concepts not in conflict?”

Well, there is none. Vedanta talks of eternal reality to which the whole manifest world is rooted. The form-God concept, on the other hand, has a purposeful contextual relevance.  They carry valuable educative import, each identified with a particular attribute, vital to orderly human conduct. Goddess Saraswati in this sense offers lessons on how to pursue the learning process to acquire wisdom.  These imageries were accorded the status of a deity to draw immediate attention of the seekers.  

Complex dynamics of man and the universe calls for necessary awareness. That alone would help us relate well with the world around individually and collectively. But our egotistical mind, bound by its preconditioning and habit tendencies, restricts our scope of vision, making it difficult to holistically understand the dynamics of life.  That makes it incumbent upon us to expand our vision to explore existential truths with an open mind. Meditation on the imagery of Mother Goddess Saraswati is the way forward. 

First the word: “Saraswati”. It is made from the root-syllable, “Sarasa”, which means spontaneous flow. Saraswati, thus, offers lessons in how ensure smooth run of life. She is visualised clad in spotless white apparel, also mounted on white Swan. Transparent white is the colour of purity, Buddhi (discriminate intelligence) and Space. It hints out at the pure, unsullied, truths, as laid down in nature. Only pure-minds, free from any preconditioning whatsoever, could explore such truths. Otherwise, with our minds driven by a sense of relative perception, it will be difficult to identify the thin dividing line between truth and untruth. It is something like milk diluted with water, which looks no different from its pure from. However, when served to a Swan, it consumes the pure milk, leaving aside the adulterated water, and hence the relevance of Her mount. 

The Mother is armed with Veena (a stringed musical instrument). We are all aware that pleasing sound emanating from the musical instrument comes into effect through harmony and symphony of varied sound notes excited by different strings. In an implied sense, She remains the beholder of all Śabdas– the spoken as well as written words carrying meaning. And the word carries meaning only when the letters are placed in an orderly fashion. It also points to the fact that pleasing mannerism alone could help relate well and be in harmony with all and sundry, for a smooth run of life. Veena, the musical instrument of Mother thus metaphorically symbolises the beholder of words.

The mother is shown holding a book (the Veda) in one of her hands, meaning that scriptures provide us with the right lead. She is shown having a rosary in another hand. It implies that repeated reflection over knowledge acquired would be needed for realisation of the true import underlying the writeup. She is shown moving freely in a water body, having beautiful Lotus flower around, growing out of the mud lying in its womb. This is in acknowledgment of the fact that the earthly matter acquired its form-existence when aided by water element, and which acquired its dynamism out of the Śakti provided by the consciousness element, contextually symbolised by Mother. The Lotus flower here symbolises both creativity and lustre evident with knowledge. Though born in muddy water, not even a drop of water or mud particle can stick to the lotus flower leaves, thus implying a sense of detachment. So, true wisdom can be acquired only when explored with a sense of detachment. 

A peacock is also shown around the Mother, which she uses as a carrier while moving up above in the sky. We cannot afford to lose sight of the forces routed through the infinite, inaccessible and indestructible space either. And, obviously tracking down the information laid down there is no easy task. It needs to be noted that the prized feed of a peacock is poisonous snake. When the peacock digests the snake’s poison, it leads to a change in its body chemistry, which results in the beautiful colour its plumage reflects. Similarly, knowledge acquisition cannot be an easy task. It implies that only those who take on the pains associated with learning process kindly, would be able to acquire the knowledge and wisdom.

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