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Saraswati: Find out how the River became Goddess of Wisdom in Hinduism!

According to Skandha Puran, Vishnu ordered Saraswati to carry Barabagni (fire) to the sea

Sarswati, Wikimedia Commons

According to Hindu Mythology, Goddess Saraswati is believed to be the Goddess of ‘Vidya’, i.e. knowledge or wisdom. A river too is named as ‘Saraswati’ in North India. If you have doubts whether they are of different or same identity? Why her skin color is white? Why there is a duck with her? or, Why is she worshipped in spring? Fret no more, this article will give you a brief idea about how the river became the Goddess of Wisdom in Hinduism.

According to Bramhabaibarta Puran, at the end of a Kalpa (The four great epochs or Yugas in Hinduism: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga), Rudra (one of the many forms of Lord Shiva) demolishes everything. Then Brahma starts meditating and his Satwaguna takes the form of Saraswati. Bramha gets attracted to Saraswati, because of his attraction towards “Jnana” or knowledge. He asked the Goddess to sit on all poets’ tongue.  But how could she sit everyone’s tongue? So Brahma said her to find one poet. Saraswati found Valmiki and therefore, he became Adikavi or the first poet. In Hinduism, it is believed that other poets are following his marks till the date.

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Hindu text, Vedas say something different to Puran. ‘Saras’ means water. In the age of Rigveda, Saraswati was worshipped both as river and goddess. In this Hindu text, the Sindhu river was called Saraswati. The saints used to gather on the river side of Saraswati and perform Yajna, chant shlokas, mantras and sing Saam. Thus Naadshalini (sound) river Saraswati became the Veenabaradmanditabhuja’ (who carries Veena, the instrument).

Saraswati River, Wikimedia Commons
Saraswati River, Wikimedia Commons

According to Skandha Puran, Vishnu ordered Saraswati to carry Barabagni (fire) to the sea. While carrying Barabagni, she became tired and to reduce the tiredness she sometimes moved over or under the earth. A mountain proposed her to marry him and she neglected him and crossed by another side.

To fulfill four Brahmin’s wish, she divided herself into five streams. If one looks at the geographical condition of the Saraswati River, they will get the story. The river is sometimes wide, sometimes just a thin stream, sometimes it’s subterranean.

After Veda Yuga, when the saints separated themselves and moved to new places all over India, they took the river in the form of the idol. The waves under the idol’s feet prove this theory. The lotus bloomed in the river became the Aasan (or the throne) and the ducks of the river became the Vahan (or the mound).

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Besides this Hindu belief, there lies a philosophy. Saraswati is the goddess of wisdom and knowledge and as we all know, Knowledge enriches the soul. According to the Hindu Mythology, She is the light, the Sattva guna as well as a symbol of a river too. Therefore, her skin color, sari, jewelry, Lotus (a flower) and duck- all of them is white. One might ask the significance of duck with the Goddess Saraswati. This is so because, a duck has equal speed in the sky, ground, and water. This is similar to that of a knowledgeable person who can be everywhere due to the understanding of the nature, people or situations around him. Another reason is why the duck is present with the idol is that only a duck can get the oyster from the mud. This symbolises how a person full of wisdom has the ability to see good from the worst of the situation, circumstances, and even the people. Duck tours in water but its feathers never wets.  The true knowledge teaches one to how to live in this world but not get involved in it.

Now, one might also ask, why Saraswati is worshipped after autumn? Well, the answer is here! Worshipping the symbol of wisdom in the end days of winter comes with a very obvious reason. She is called Nihsheshjadhyapaha means who gives relief from inertia and ignorance. Winter is the season of inertia, the length of night is more than the length of day. With spring the length of the day increases. Saraswati is worshipped when the night of ignorance is getting eliminated by the daylight of knowledge.

Thus, Saraswati idols should be colored white. Let our surrounding be colorful and our mind be pure and bright.

– by Priyanka Saha of NewsGram. Twitter: @priyanka140490


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  • hdkpatel

    Fraud. Saraswati is not a Sindhu ,it is different river

Next Story

Right of Nature: Are Rivers Living Beings?

Should rivers be considered Living Entities?

Right of Nature
Many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

By Dr. Bharti Raizada, Chicago

Science says that water bodies are not living entities, as water does not need food, does not grow, and reproduce. Water is required for life, but in itself it is nonliving.

However, many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

The Maori tribe in New Zealand considers the Whanganui River as their ancestor and the Maori people fought to get it a legal status as a living being. In 2017, a court in New Zealand gave this river the status of living being and same rights as humans, to protect it from pollution. Thus, now if someone pollutes in it then it is considered equivalent to harming a human.

ALSO READ: Worshiping mother nature part of our tradition: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Right of Nature
Rivers are sacred in many religions, including Hinduism. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

Rivers are sacred in Hinduism also. Hindus believe that the Ganga descended from heaven and call her Ganga Maa. A few days after New Zealand’s court decision, Uttarakhand high court in India gave the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries the status of living human entities. The Court-appointed three officials as legal custodians. However, the court did not clarify many aspects related to this decision.

After this verdict some of the questions, which naturally came to mind, were:

Can Hindus still do rituals of flowing ashes, leaves, flowers, diyas in river or no? Can a dam be built on the river after this judgment? If some damage, to a person, animal, plants, or property, occurs because of river e.g. overflow, hurricanes, flooding etc., how the river will pay the liabilities? What if all rivers, oceans, ponds etc. are given the status of living beings? Will drinking water from river become a crime? What about taking water and using it for routine needs,  agriculture or building structures? Will it be illegal? If a child throws a stone in water, will it be a criminal act? Will fishing be considered stealing? What about boating? If someone is using heat near water and water evaporates, is it equal to taking the body part of a human being? What about taking a bath in the river?

Right of Nature
If the river gets a living status, as human, then we cannot use it for anything without its permission, so everyone has to stop touching the water. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: Decoding supernatural: What is the nature of entities and gods who influence human behavior

Other queries, which arise, are:

Will animals and plants get the same status? What if you kill an ant or a chicken etc. or cut a tree? Will all animals and plants get a legal custodian?

Where is all the waste supposed to go? It has to go somewhere back in nature, right?

Uttrakhand state government challenged the judgement in Supreme Court and the latter reversed the judgment.

Right of Nature
So where do we stand? In my opinion, granting living status to nature is a different thing than giving protected status or preserving nature. Image by Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: How nature destroys the negative tendencies in a positive manner

Ecuador’s constitution recognized the Right of Nature to exist, specifically Vilcabamba river, in 2008.

Then Bolivia passed the law of the right of mother earth and granted Nature equal rights as humans.

Many communities in the U.S.A. passed the Right of Nature law.

These laws are creating a dilemma or quandary also, as people need to use these resources. We cannot live without using natural resources. However, there is a difference between using natural resources and afflicting or destroying these. So, please use natural resources very diligently. Try not to vitiate nature.

On World Water Day (March 22), please start taking care of rivers, so that there is no need for future celebrations. It should not be a one-day celebration anyway, we should scrupulously look out for nature all the time.

Dr. Raizada is a practicing anesthesiologist.