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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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Puja for The Spiritualism, Not for Vulgar Entertainment

The westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures" and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those "holy books" only in the drawers of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods' idols !!!

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Hinduism
he westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our "scriptures"

By Salil Gewali

Any auspicious days in Hinduism are expected to be observed with a complete purity of action and thought. The same holds true for other religions too. As per the Hindu scriptures, the believers are required to stay away from any kind of sense gratifications, particularly when the specific days are dedicated to Gods and Goddess such as Navratri, Laxmi Puja, Krishna Janmashtami, Shivaratri, to name a few. The pathway to devotion and spiritualism should not be “desecrated” by the blot of the brazen entertainment. The scriptures logically explain why it is antithetical, and its adverse consequences.

Hindusim
Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.

 But, what a huge irony, rather a blasphemy that many people these days have started to choose the auspicious days of Gods to satisfy their base senses. Without a wee bit of regret, a certain class of people holds almost every auspicious day as the most “unmissable” occasion to booze with the friends, and what not, and stagger back home, lol! Such bizarre practices are fast catching now than ever.  Sadly, hardly any conscious people and spiritual organizations stand up and take the right measures to check such godless deviations.

What is quite unpleasant is that such a kind of unholy practices are often being facilitated by certain “Hindu intuitions” as well. On this past Laxmi Puja, the “propitious time” to perform the ritual had fallen between 6 PM to 7:53 PM. Yours truly decided to use that span of time for meditation. But hell broke loose. Apart from fireworks around, the Bollywood songs in high decibel burst forth from a certain Hindu institution quite frustrated the mission.

Hindusim
Sadhu Sanga Retreat, 2016

 One senior citizen laments – “Nothing could be irreligious than the fact that a favorable time for “puja” is also being used for the wrongful purposes. We rather expect the “Hindu institutions” to teach our children Bhajan, Kirtan, and other spiritual activities, not the loud and feverish parties and disturb others.”

Another college student adds “Having been much disturbed by the noise pollution, I have persuaded my parents to shift our place of residence to elsewhere, not at least near holy places with an unholy mission. I have started to see such institutions with the eyes of suspicion these says.” Is it that our institutions are unable to use their “discretion”, and as a result, they fail to differentiate between right and wrong?  One is deeply apprehensive that Bollywood songs and vulgar dances might as well be included as a part of the “puja ritual” as we have long accepted the fun of fireworks bursting as an integral part of Laxmi Puja which in fact is just an entrenched “misconception”.

Hinduism
Hinduism is expected to be observed with a complete purity of action

Needless to say, our roar for consumerism has almost drowned the whisper of inherent spiritualism. We are only just sending out the wrong messages. I’m afraid, the whole culture itself might be looked down with derision by other faiths. It might just become a subject of ridicule! It is no exaggeration, such negative notions against the “wrong practices” are all what we often read these days in several newspapers and social media. Do we want others to demean our profound spiritual heritage thus?  I believe it calls for a serious soul-searching.

Incidentally, the Bhagavad Gita describes such situation as the rise of “tamasic vibes”.  It warns in the strongest terms that mankind should absolutely be careful not to fall under the influence of any short-lived sense gratifications. Or else, our endeavor to “practice and preserve” the sanctity of a religion/spiritualism will be a futile exercise.

However, on the other hand, the westerners practicing Hinduism have learned a pretty well from our “scriptures” and are becoming more spiritual while we just locked up those “holy books” only in a drawer of the altar. Thus we only love to shake our “butts to the boom-boom of Bollywood”.. right in front of the Gods’ idols !!!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.

Twitter:@SGewali.