In Hinduism, Saraswati (Sanskrit: सरस्वती, Sarasvatī ?) is the goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science. She is the companion of Brahma, also revered as his Shakti. It was with her knowledge, that Brahma created the universe . She is a part of trishakti “Saraswati” “Lakshmi” “Kali” . All the three forms helping Tridev “Brahma” , “Vishnu” , and “Mahesh / Shiv” , in creation, maintenance and destruction of Universe . Her figure is also popular in the Jain religion of west and central India.
Saraswati is strongly associated with flowing water in her role as a goddess of knowledge. She is depicted as a beautiful woman to embody the concept of knowledge as supremely alluring. She possesses four arms, and is usually shown wearing a spotless white saree and seated on a white lotus or riding a white swan.
According to writer Sailen Debnath, “Saraswati is the Goddess of learning; and the meaning of the goddess in association of all the symbols with her signifies that if a learner really understands and pursues the connotative and denotative meaning of the goddess, he or she can easily advance in acquiring knowledge. The realization of the Goddess makes the learner ready to embark on the world of knowledge and wisdom. Debneth identifies seven primary characteristics and symbols of the goddess that relate to her role as a goddess of knowledge.
- Saraswati is the goddess of learning, and not a god; and this feminine aspect signifies creativity, as a woman can originate a human being in her womb.
- White colour of the goddess signifies spotless character and immaculate mind.
- Seated on an inverted white lotus meaning to be in search of the light of knowledge.
- White swan is the vehicle of the goddess; and this is indicative of inquisitiveness.
- The Goddess is playing the vina; and this signifies harmony of all mental strings, agencies and attitudes.
- The goddess is worshipped with Palash, a red odourless flower; and this symbol is indicative of being free from putrefied preconceptions.
- Inkpot with pen and books as symbols.”
Saraswati depicted in Mysore painting
In the Rigveda, Saraswati is a river as well as its personification as a goddess. In the post-Vedic age, she began to lose her status as a river goddess and became increasingly associated with literature, arts, music, etc. In Hinduism, Saraswati represents intelligence, consciousness, cosmic knowledge, creativity, education, enlightenment, music, the arts, eloquence and power. Hindus worship her not only for “academic knowledge”, but for “divine knowledge” essential to achieve moksha.