Sunday October 22, 2017

Rape Culture in Hinduism: Reality or Myth?

All this clearly manifests that there is no culture of rape in the Hindu religion. Instead, women are recognized as the most important aspect of human society.

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Rape culture in Hinduism
Rape culture in Hinduism

Rape Culture In Hinduism / Indian concept On Sexuality / Sex & Hinduism

By Nithin Sridhar

via Exotic India
via Exotic India

An article that was published recently asserts that the Hindu religion promotes rape culture in hinduism & in the Indian society.

The article contends that the Hindu religion is to be squarely blamed for various crimes that have recently been committed against women. It tries to support its claims through selective incidents from the Itihaasas and Puraanas.

However, even a casual reading of the article will show how only selective portions of the incidents have been quoted to depict Hindu religion in a bad light.

The article takes up the incident of Krishna stealing the garments of unmarried gopis (young girls) and offers the following commentary upon it: “He did so to tease them and for the pleasure of watching the beauty of their naked bodies. We hang miniature paintings of the same act in our homes proudly. The young men who grow up seeing this, or listening to the story told in an amused tone are bound to not find such an act abhorrent.”

So, the article is indirectly trying to blame Krishna, for rape culture in hinduism & the present issues of sexual recklessness, eve-teasing and rape.

But the author of the article conveniently forgets to state that, Krishna was merely a baalaka- a child during this episode. So, how can a child take pleasure in watching the beauty of girl’s naked bodies?

Also, Krishna was no ordinary child. He was a Poorna Avatara– a complete incarnation of God, who was aware of his divinity from the time of his birth itself. Therefore, any association of mundane lust with Krishna who was God himself, and who gave us Bhagavad Gita is meaningless and may point towards deliberate mischief.

Another major incident that the article takes up towards the end is that of demoness Surpunaka. The article states, “This is the cultural environment that shapes the lives of most people in India. So it’s natural that what gods do influences us much more than the moral lesson at the end. Now consider this: we have gods who, for instance, have cut the nose and ear lobes of a woman who approached them professing her love (Lakshman is depicted as having done this to Shurpanakha), and yet we adore him and see him as a symbol of loyalty, sacrifice and righteous indignation.

So, the article is indirectly accusing Rama and Lakshmana as being the cause behind the mindset that takes pleasure in committing violence against women.

Again, the author does not mention the fact that Surpanaka was about to kill Sita, when Rama asked Lakshmana to get hold of Surpunaka and cut off her ears and nose. So the blame of violence against women is definitely not on Rama or Lakshmana.

The author (of the article) writes that Surpanaka was professing her love but conveniently forgets the fact that Surpanaka was not ready to be a junior wife or co-wife of Rama. She wanted to kill Sita and take her place.

Therefore, if the incident shows anything, it is that a loving husband was protecting his wife and a loving brother was protecting his brother and sister-in-law.

The article further mentions Indra as being a mythological hero who is praised for his acts of killing, drinking, and fornicating with multiple women. But it does not add that the same mythologies also depict how Indra was cursed by Gauthama Rishi for adultery.

The article doesn’t leave out Buddha either. Buddha has been criticized for taking renunciation, without considering the fact that, due to his intense vairagyam (dispassion), he would not have been able to fulfill his conjugal duties to his wife or fatherly duties to his child even if he had not left the palace.

The article clearly appears to be consciously targeting Hindu religion and reflecting it in poor light by somehow connecting the ills of present society with Hindu puranams and histories.

Hindu religion has given women a very high status. Manu Smriti (3.56) says:

Gods become elated where women are worshiped, and where women are disrespected, there no worship is successful”.

Manu Smriti further states that people who inflict sorrow and trouble women will ultimately face sorrowful fate themselves.

Various Smriti’s, including that of Manu, impose strict punishments for rape, harassment, eve-teasing or any other form of violence against women.

All this clearly manifests that there is no culture of rape in the Hindu religion. Instead, women are recognized as the most important aspect of human society. The status of women is not just that of equal standing with regard to men but, in fact, higher than them. As far as the Hindu religion is concerned, women are to be adored, loved, respected, and worshiped.

Glossary:

Itihaasa: Literally “as it happened” i.e. history which is recorded by an eye-witness.

Puraanam: Literally “of ancient times” i.e. records of the past that have been passed down from past.

29 COMMENTS

  1. It does not really matter whether a culture promotes something as grave as rape, if something is wrong, it should be stopped.

  2. The article which is referring to Lord Krishana and Rama or almost all Hindu deities is an act of subversive slaves of this soil..those are most heinous blots on the name of freedom of expression, they might lack whole the spine talking same about any other religion, as these are the most coward amalgamation of various DNAs, of a mother ……

    • You are talking absolutely rubbish, there is no culture of rape in Islam, it’s only in Hinduism because even your gods like Vishnu carried out rape against innocent girls and women.

      • Let me remind you that your prophet raped Saffiya after killing her husband and family. He did not even give the poor thing her iddah and raped her the night she was captured.

  3. Both the referred article and this one have a very interesting take on the mix of rape and religion. Food for thought indeed

  4. It is nonsensical to blame Hindu culture for rapes, in many states almost muslim rapists, as per police records, range from 10% to 40% cases. So why not call rapist Islam ??
    Similarly in nordich nations which record hi rape tates are christans, so Jesus to be blamed?

    The writers of such articles as referred here, mostly leftists shall take responsibility for all rapes done by Maoists here and in their father lands – Russia, China. So leninism, maoism, communism imbibe rapist culture for sure.

  5. The article on rape culture in Hinduism is absolutely correct from historical perspective. Indian culture was all about sexual impropriety, with all sorts of sexual acts explained in great detail in our shastras. However, as we got exposed to different cultures our perceptions of bodily freedom changed. Today we are not half as promiscuous as the people mentioned in the shastras. As for clarifications in the above article, you see as the society evolved we felt shameful of the acts of our ancient people so we started changing the stories and made them more appropriate to contemporary times. However, a closer and deeper study would reveal that India was a land of sexual perversions and all must accept this.

    • 1) In fact it was God INDRA who tried to commit adultery with a woman, masquerading himself as a hen in the morning. Pretty disgusting!
      2) KRISHNA: Stole butter when he was a little kid – Are these the qualities of a GOD?
      3) RAM: Vishwamitra or some other sage wrote about Ram how He himself confessed in a poem that due to HIS past SINS – He is in the world, living the way he did. So, how does that make RAM a GOD? If he himself confessed of sins in his past life?

      Here is a 10 part Youtube video series of a HINDU Brahmin that exposed all the ungodliness of RAM and Shiva:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzIjP1tnn4o&list=PLKAyEafgXmigUTgBuSmpDYl-M8oaLPeZX

  6. Dont forget… Lord Krishna saved Droupadi when Kauravas tried to pull her clothes.
    Strongly oppose who ever is trying to Insult our Dear Lord Krishna.

  7. First of all Lord Krishna didn’t stole those clothes to watch the ladies but to teach them a lesson. The gopiyas (Ladies) complaint Lord Krishna’s mother that he is stealing Makhan (butter) from their Matki. Due to which he & all his friends were punished. Also, he stole gopiyas clothes “Because” they were bathing naked in the river, to teach them a lesson so that they do not do it again. Today anyone can be an article writer, they think writing on religious things will attract more heads towards there article & they will become famous & rich. They write without any knowledge or research just to make money via Google ads.

    • Ross why are you telling them the fact. They are the genie-ass who writes anything without doing their homework. Let them live with their mere knowledge about hindus.

  8. one’s act mansha(why he id doing this) is decided by the outcome of that act…….so what his(Krishna) act did …yes ..the gopis understood that they should be careful while bathing in open(or they should not bathe in open and other measures)..one should be not biased if he actually wants to understand the matter..

  9. All these explanations given here are just that, explanations. The truth lies somewhere between the two extremes (nor far right is entirety correct, neither far left is entirely wrong). A starting point would be to think why these Gods were created, what ideas they represented. Puranas are never the authentic source of Hinduism. The stories were created for common folks, the mass that was largely illeterate, rudimentary in its thinking, poor, living from hands to mouth and would only understand the real idea behind religion mostly in the form of fables and folk tales. Indra was one of the primary Gods in Rig veda and all other Gods including him which were 5 in numbers had there status reduced later on as Hinduism progressed further. Sanatan Dharm has been a religion which in its quest of truth has been constantly evolved itself and culminates finally in the form of Vedanta philosophy, the advaita. Everything else and all other philosophies, Sankhya, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Yog, Poorva Mimansa only milestones towards that ultimate goal.

    All the mythologies are false. There is no concept of heaven or hell. India was so much “tolerant” back then that even a mere poet, author can take a god/ess from the books and create a story around him/her, portraying him as he wants to see him (even imagining a sexual union with a God/Goddess without any backlash). So Surdas’s whole poetry may be centered around वात्सल्य भाव where Krishna is is mere a child, Jaydev’s poetry depicts him as a Lover having serial sex with the women and causing jealousy in the heart of Radha. Again, this milkmaid called Radha is a concept created later on after Shrimad Bhagwat was already written but may be prior to Jaydeva (a reason why in temples across South, Krishna is depicted with his wife and not with some woman named Radha) The reason why Jaydev did this was because he was in love with a prostitute which didn’t have a social sanction. Now back then when religion was the only thing to look upon by the people at large, to decide what was wrong and right, any person with consideable influence among the ruling class would like to alter the tides in his favor. What I’m doing is not wrong because even God favors it kind of thing.
    All the lofty ideas and principles behind it come later, the ideas that it depicts प्रेम भाव of the bhakti cult that God is there with the a person like a lover is with his love, that the same intensity that a person shows for his lover, he shows for God, god will be with him and likewise ideas. Then same Krishna goes on to preach for celibacy in Gita, one would say what a hypocrite!
    The thing is that there is no reason to brush something under the carpet, to sugarcoat something or try to explain everything that is written there and is part of popular notion. Sanatan Dharm is not a monolithic kind of idea. There are various parallel streams running. Each and every person who identifies as Hindu can create a God or Goddess of his/her own choice and worship him like Santoshi mata is a creation of the Hindi films. Worshipping only means you are acknowledging the presense of God, otherwise worhip means nothing but worshipping your own powers, seeking the divinity within and for what is inside, there is no need to have any external factor. But just like in Mathematical problems to prove something, sometimes you assume what is given in the question and arrive to the given condition in the problem, in the same way you assume the existence of God and just follow the path leading towards him and you’ll reach him, this is rather simple path, Bhakti marg is based on this. Another way is to start out as atheist and try to find out the truth about the existence of God. Be sincere in your efforts. Believe in God only when you’ve find him. The Indian philosophical traditions are just that and these philosophies are the core, the roots of religion, the mythologies and rituals are secondary, tertiary parts. This is gyan marg and as we are becoming more and more knowledge based evolved society, this is the path that is going to gain importance.

    As for me I don’t even bow my head in front of Krishna standing with Radha in any temple. No, that ain’t for me because I do not believe in it and I can’t endorse or subscribe to what I don’t believe. There are so many innocent gullible women lured by cunning, lecherous, deceptive men disguised as saints in the name of Radha, assuming themselves to be Krishna. Likewise a woman who doesn’t belive in ideals of Sita (or Ram) and still doesn’t have a courage to take a pee (pardon my language) on Ramayana is no good for me too. What is required is honesty and consistency in your belief system which most Indians seriously lack.

  10. This article is so factually incorrect, I stopped reading half way. An unbiased read of Hindu scriptures would be beneficial for the author.

  11. So if you see women bathing in a river, do you hide their clothes to see their naked bodies? Is such behavior civilized? Furthermore, krishna also derived pleasure from seeing the naked youthful bodies of the gopis. He later even had sex with these gopis.

  12. I wouldn’t say or I am not sure if there are any direct references to RAPE in the Hindu scriptures, but a while ago I did read something from the “Laws of Manu”, that women are subordinate or inferior to men, this wasn’t mentioned explicitly but it was inferred or at least that is what I understood from the passage. Here is the quote: “A husband should be worshiped as a God.”

  13. How does it matter what Krishna did or what Rama did? India is a highly patriarchal society and culture seriously plays a very important role. Why are women asked to stay at home and not go to work outside i(n highly orthodox hindu families)? If their culture encouraged it, they would have always been wway more independent
    Culture or any religion is not perfect or never has been and we have to live with the truth and try to make the society more progressive instead of cribbing about is our religion good or bad.

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.

 

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Exploring the Faces of Faith and Devotion: 7 Principal Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism

Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creater, sustainer and destroyer of the world

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Are you familiar with the various gods and goddesses of Hinduism? Pixabay

New Delhi, October 9, 2017 : Devout Hindus have a god for every occasion and every day – over 33 million, according to popular beliefs. While people of other religions often interpret them as fictional characters, the multiple gods and goddesses of Hinduism are held with utmost devotion and sincerity by the believers.

Ours is a polytheistic religion – in other words, a myriad of gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the world. These divine forces are known to appear in different avatars, embodied by different gods and goddesses.

In Hinduism, Lord Brahma is the creator of the Universe and the first member of the holy trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh). However, he is not worshiped as Vishnu or Shiva with only one temple dedicated to him, the Pushkar temple of Rajasthan.

Here are some of the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism.

1. Vishnu

Vishnu is the second member of the holy Hindu triad, who sustains the entire world – Vishnu is believed to return to the earth during distressed times to restore the balance between good and evil.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Lord Vishnu. Wikimedia

Believed to have incarnated nine times, Vishnu symbolizes the principles of order, righteousness, and truth. His associate is Lakshmi, the goddess of family life and prosperity.

Vishnu is always depicted with a blue-colored human body with four hands, each of which carries four different objects – a conch, chakra, lotus flower and mace. The god is shown to ride the Garuda, an eagle.

So far, Vishnu has appeared on earth in various incarnations. These include fish, turtle, boar, Narsimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parsuram, Ram, Krishna and Buddha. Devotees believe he will re-incarnate in a last avatar, popularly known as ‘Kalki’, close to the end of this world.

Hindus who worship Vishnu are primarily known as Vaishnava and regard him as the greatest god.

2. Shiva

One of the members of the holy Hindu trinity, Lord Shiva is as the god of destruction, so that the world may be recreated by Brahma. Thus, his destructive powers are perceived as regenerative: necessary to make renewal possible.

Known by different names like Mahadeva, Nataraja , Pashupati, Vishwanath and Bhole Nath, Shiva is known to have untamed enthusiasm, which drives him to extremes in conduct. It is his relationship with wife Parvati which established the balance. While other gods and goddesses are represented in glorious avatars, Shiva is dressed in plan animal skin and usually sits in a yogic aasana.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
God Shiva, Wikimedia

Shiva is often addressed as the Lord of Dance, with the rhythm of the dance believed to be symbolic of the balance in the universe, masterfully held by Shiva. His most significant dance form is the Tandav.

Hindus who worship Shiva as their primary god are known as Shaivites.


3. Lakshmi

One of the most popular goddesses of Hindu mythology, Lakshmi gets hers name from the Sanskrit word ‘lakshya’, meaning ambition or purpose. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity and purity and is the associate of Vishnu.

Lakshmi is believed to reside in places of hard work, and sincerity, However, the goddess leaves whenever an individual is overcome with greed or malice or when these qualities are not evident anymore. Hindus believe Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi. Hence, they worship the goddess of prosperity primarily during Diwali, which commemorated the Hindu epic Ramayana.

Gods and goddesses of hinduism
Goddess Lakshmi. Wikimedia

Lakshmi is widely represented as an enchanting woman with four arms, settled or standing on a lotus flower.

Devout Hindus worship Lakshmi at temples and inside homes alike, and believe worshipping her with utmost sincerity blesses an individual with success and fortune.


4. Ganesha

The pot bellied, elephant-headed god Ganesha, also known as Ganpati, Vinayak and Binayak, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. one of the most popular gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ganesha is revered as the remover of all obstacles, which is why his presence is first acknowledged before beginning any new work.

The lord of success and wealth, Ganesha is also the patron of knowledge and learning; devotees believe he wrote down parts of the Hindu epic Mahabharata with his broken tusk.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
Ganesh Puja. Wikimedia

Ganesha is typically depicted as a pot-bellied, elephant-headed red colored god, with four arms and a broken tusk. This head is believed to characterize the atma or the soul and the body represents the maya or mankind’s earthly existence. The rats, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.

Lord Ganesha is shown riding mouse, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.


5. Krishna

Believed to be the most popular and the most powerful avatar of Vishnu, Krishna is revered as the Supreme Being or the Purana Purushottam out of a list of several hundred gods and goddesses of Hinduism, by several devout Hindus. One of the most loved and mischievous gods, Krishna means ‘black’ and can be believed to denote mysteriousness.

In Hinduism, Krishna takes several different roles- that of a hero, leader, protector, philosopher, teacher and a friend and is believed to have lived on earth between 3200 – 3100 BC. His birth is widely celebrated on the midnight of Ashtami during the month of Shravan, and is called Janmashthami.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Picture of idols of Lord Krishna and Radha, decorated for Janmashtami. Wikimedia

Stories of Krishna’s birth, childhood and youth and widely read and circulated, with every mother wanting to have a child like him. His raas with Radha is also remembered widely.

Krishna is held with utmost reverence for his role as the charioteer of Arjuna, as explained in the Mahabharata. It was in the middle of this war that Krishna delivered his famous advice about ‘Nishkam Karma’ which propagated action without attachment, which formed the basis of the Bhagwat Gita.

Krishna is extremely fond of white butter and there are several stories about how he stole butter from gopis throughout his childhood. He is depicted as a dark and extremely handsome, usually depicted with a flute which he used for its seductive powers.


6. Ram

Maryada Purushottam Ram is the ideal avatar of Vishnu. An epitome of chivalry, virtues and ethical demeanor, Ram is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu who is believed to have taken birth to eradicate all evils from the world.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Ram Darbar. Wikimedia

Unlike all other gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ram is believed to be a historical character, instead of an imaginary figure. The Hindu epic Ramayana is a retelling and celebration of Ram’s life – a tale of his fourteen years in exile with his wife and brother.

Ram’s birthday is celebrated as Ramnavmi, wherein devotees invoke him with religious chants to attain his blessings shield. The festival of lights, Diwali, which is one of the major festivals in Hinduism, is also observed to celebrate the return of Ram, Laksham and Sita back to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years.

Ram bears a dark complexion to show his resemblance to Vishnu and his other avatar Krishna, and is almost always depicted with a bow and arrow in his hands and a quiver on his back. Ram also wears a tilak on his forehead. Accompanying the statues of Ram are idols of his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and the celebrated monkey-god Hanuman, who together combine the Ram Darbar.

7. Saraswati

Daughter of Shiva and Durga, and the consort of Brahma, Saraswati is revered as the goddess of wisdom, learning, speech and music. She is the goddess of knowledge and arts. Devotees often worship the deity before commencing any educational work- books and stationary items are often revered as Saraswati is believed to reside in them.

Saraswati Vandana, religious chants dedicated to the goddess of music often begin and end all Vedic lessons. The goddess also plays songs of wisdom, affection and life on the veena, a string instrument.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
Sarswati, Wikimedia Commons

Saraswati is visually represented in pure white attire and rides a peacock, with a lotus in one hand and sacred scriptures in the other. She also has four hands that signify the four aspects of learning- mind, intellect, alertness, and ego.

Out of all the 33 million gods and goddesses of Hinduism, devout Hindus believe only Saraswati can grant them moksha- the ultimate emancipation of the soul.