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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

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Sarswati, Wikimedia Commons
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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

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Shankaracharya: A remarkable genius that Hinduism produced (Book Review)

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

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He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita
He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita.

Title: Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker; Author: Pavan K. Varma; Publisher: Tranquebar Press; Pages: 364; Price: Rs 699

This must be one of the greatest tributes ever paid to Shankaracharya, the quintessential “paramarthachintakh”, who wished to search for the ultimate truths behind the mysteries of the universe. His genius lay in building a complete and original philosophical edifice upon the foundational wisdom of the Upanishads.

A gifted writer, Pavan Varma, diplomat-turned-politician and author of several books including one on Lord Krishna, takes us through Shankara’s short but eventful span of life during which, from having been born in what is present-day Kerala, he made unparalleled contributions to Hindu religion that encompassed the entire country. Hinduism has not seen a thinker of his calibre and one with such indefatigable energy, before or since.

Shankara’s real contribution was to cull out a rigorous system of philosophy that was based on the essential thrust of Upanishadic thought but without being constrained by its unstructured presentation and contradictory meanderings.

He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. He wrote extensive and definitive commentaries on each of them. Of course, the importance he gave to the Mother Goddess, in the form of Shakti or Devi, can be traced to his own attachment to his mother whom he left when he set off, at a young age, in search of a guru and higher learning.

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.
Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess.

Against all odds, Shankara created institutions for the preservation and propagation of Vedantic philosophy. He established “mathas” with the specific aim of creating institutions that would develop and project the Advaita doctrine. He spoke against both caste discriminations and social inequality, at a time when large sections of conservative Hindu opinion thought otherwise.

Shankara was both the absolutist Vedantin, uncompromising in his belief in the non-dual Brahman, and a great synthesiser, willing to assimilate within his theoretical canvas several key elements of other schools of philosophy. He revived and restored Hinduism both as a philosophy and a religion that appealed to its followers.

Also Read: Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Varma rightly says that it must have required great courage of conviction as well as deep spiritual and philosophical insight for Shankaracharya to build on the insights of the Upanishads a structure of thought, over a millennium ago, that saw the universe and our own lives within it with a clairvoyance that is being so amazingly endorsed by science today. The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara’s philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess. The added value of the book is that it has, in English, a great deal of Shankara’s writings. Unfortunately, most Hindus today are often largely uninformed about the remarkable philosophical foundations of their religion. They are, the author points out, deliberately choosing the shell for the great treasure that lies within. This is indeed a rich book. (IANS)