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Goddess Saraswati, the epitome of learning and wisdom

Greet you all on the solemn occasion of Saraswati Puja due next week. In our annular calendar a day is dedicated in service of Goddess Saraswati, the epitome of learning and wisdom. Why accord so much importance to this occasion?  For answer, let us look at the concept underlying this symbology. It needs to be appreciated here that complex dynamics of man and the universe calls for necessary awareness. That alone would help articulate ways and means to steer life in conformity with the design parameters underlying our existence to ensure a smooth run of life. We need to be aware of our individual as well as collective worth and limitations. For, we are all born ignorant and unaware. We, however, are also born with an inherent urge to learn, expand one’s reach and evolve. That is why a child is always curious to know everything in their sight, in their natural flow. Thus, begins a process of learning ever since the child begins to respond to suggestions. However, seeing the enormity and complexity of our life mechanism, as also limitations of mind and intellect, it is simply inconceivable to get to know the whole at one go. That evidently calls for a well-articulated step-by-step learning process, as detailed in the following verse from Atreya Samhita:

“Janmana Jayate Shudraha; Samskarata dwija ucchayate; Vedapathi bhaveta vipraha; Brahma janati iti brahmanaha.”

Literally it means that by birth we are all born ignorant; having learnt how to engage with the living world would mean being born the second time; having submitted to learning process, one becomes knowledgeable; and having holistically realised the realities of life, one becomes wise.

It needs to be appreciated that by birth one begins with a clean slate, apparently not carrying any impression of worldly object or experience in mind that could guide them. Although armed with all the faculties of mind to comprehend a thing, or to cultivate a thought, or to act on their own, they do not have any image in mind that may lead them through. They do not have enough of spoken words stock necessary to describe an object or express their feelings. They are not conversant with the complex dynamics of the world of phenomenon either. They, therefore, would need a lesson in how to engage with the world around. Evidently, they are first taught the civic and moral conduct norms, so that sense of civility and sanity dawns upon them. That qualifies them to relate well with the environment and conduct themselves in an orderly manner. Having been brought up to this level will literally mean being born afresh the second time.

The next course of learning to follow offers exposure to various disciplines vital to our qualitative existence. Here, a reference to the word “Veda” doesn’t mean Veda parse. It implies all the acquired treasures of knowledge covering different aspects of life, be they philosophy, medicine, astronomy, warfare, justice. But before exposure to a particular subject of learning, one had to undergo a mandatory grooming process. Purposely so that character is built, strength of mind is increased, vision and intellect get expanded. The whole process was directed towards the learner getting well-grounded, so as to approach the subject with an open mind without any egotistical preconditioning whatsoever. The purpose, obviously, is to invoke the spirit of an honest learner as is usually evident in a curious child. In the process, the learner develops enough of mental and moral control. That enables the learner to put in all acts together to pursue the process in the right spirit following an open enquiry system. The student, thus groomed, qualifies to easily grasp true import of the lessons imparted, both explicit as well as hidden between the lines.

It will not be out of place to mention that in the ancient India’s tradition, most of the knowledge treasures were purposely scripted in formulated language. It was supposedly done so in order that one could have in store, enough of memory implants in the least possible space and words possible. And but for honing one’s mental faculty thoroughly well, it would not be possible to see through the truths veiled under the express words. A learner having thus accessed and practiced the entire spectrum of known treasures of knowledge qualifies to become a “Vipra”, knowledgeable. One may still not have a comprehensive understanding about the realities of life. For, the knowledge may still be fractioned, depending on what specific discipline one has explored.

The issue continues………

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