Bishwa Nath Singh
Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of wisdom and learning. Goddess Saraswati is the one who gives the essence of our own self. She is considered as the personification of all knowledge - arts, sciences, crafts and other skills. She has a beautiful and elegant presence, is pure white in color, clad in a white sari, seated on a white lo...tus, representing purity and brilliance. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning; mind, intellect, alertness and ego. She has the sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus (a symbol of true knowledge) in the second. With her other two hands she plays the music of love and life on the Veena. Goddess Saraswati is the consort of Brahma, the Hindu God of Creation. this year, the festival falls on the 8th of February 2011.Let us celebrate it with great religious fervor, gaiety and devotion and seek Her bliss to give us wisdom to promote Global Peace and Universal Brotherhood in the universe with all sincerity at our command!
( Photo of Goddess Saraswati)
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Bishwa Nath Singh:
Scripture says that when Brahma resolved to create this world, he went into deep thought. In the course of his contemplation, there appear a hollowed mark on his forehead. After a few moments there is a girl emerged from that celestial sign.... Lord Brahma asked: "Who are you?" The girl replied: "My birth has been from your contemplation. Pease give me work." Lord Brahma asked her to live on the tongue of people and regulate their speech as "Vageshwari", the goddess of speech. While Brhma is the lord of creation, Saraswati is the goddess of creativity.She is the personification of wisdom, learning, intelligence, music and art. As the incarnation of speech, she presides over knowledge. It coincides with Vasant Panchami or Shree Panchami or. the 5th day of the bright fThe Rigvedic hymns dedicated to Saraswati mention her as a mighty river with creative, purifying, and nourishing properties. Veda says that the path of knowledge has the power to dispel ignorance of what is permanent and what is passing. Celebrating Saraswati is a call to the higher mind, the beginning of a deep desire to understand the purpose and meaning of life. In art, Saraswati is a serenely smiling figure clad in white. One hand holds a book, the symbol of learning while another bears the veena, a stringed instrument. Her third and fourth hands hold a rosary of pearls and a water pot, used in rites of worship. In another popular depiction, Goddess araswati sits on a lotus, playing the veena. Her divine vehicle is a white swan that matches her untainted beauty.She holds the following in her four hands as described below:(A) In First hand a pustaka (sacred Vedas) , representing the universal, divine, eternal, and true knowledge as well as her perfection of the sciences and the scriptures.(B). In Second hand a akshamala (garland of crystals to meditate), representing the power of meditation and spirituality.(C). In Third hand a kamandalu (pot of sacred water), representing creative and purificatory powers, or the smooth flow of knowledge, like water, stored in a pot. & (D). In Fourth hand, a musical instrument (Veena) that represents her perfection of all arts and sciences. The vahana (carrier) is a white swan is often located next to her feet. Swan, in Sanskrit, is called "Hamsa", hence Goddess Saraswati is also referred to as Hamsa-vahini,. It is said that if the sacred swan offered a mixture of milk and water, he will drink the only milk. Thus swan symbolizes discrimination between the good and the bad or the eternal and the evanescent. The swan and her association with the lotus flower also point to her ancient origin. Sometimes a peacock is shown beside the goddess. The peacock represents arrogance and pride over its beauty, and by having a peacock as her mount, the Goddess teaches not to be concerned with external appearance and to be wise regarding the eternal truth.The legend goes that In the Rig-Veda Saraswati is credited, in association with Indra, with killing the serpentine being Vritraasura, a demon which hoarded all of the earth's water and so represents drought, darkness, and chaos. She is often seen as equivalent to other Vedic goddesses such as Vak, Savitri, and Gayatri. Saraswati represents intelligence, consciousness, cosmic knowledge, creativity, education, enlightenment, music, the arts, and power. She is not only worshipped for secular knowledge, but for the true divine knowledge essential to achieve moksha. She is also referred to as Shonapunya, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘one purified of blood’. In some Puranas (like Skanda Purana) she is associated with Shiva and in some Tantras with Ganesha. According to Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Vishnu had three wives, who constantly quarrelled with each other, so that eventually, he kept only Lakshmi, giving Ganga to Shiva and Saraswati to Brahma. Brahma created the universe with the help of Saraswati. Brahma was the guardian of the cosmos. He too needed Saraswati’s support to sustain the cosmos. Using her knowledge he instituted and maintained dharma, sacred laws that ensure stability and growth in society. Brahma also needed the help of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, who gave him the wherewithal to ensure cosmic order. The question arose: who did Brahma need more? Lakshmi or Saraswati? Wealth or knowledge? The goddesses argued, “Knowledge does not fill an empty stomach.” Said Saraswati. “Wealth keeps man alive but gives no meaning to life.” Said Saraswati. “I need both knowledge and wealth to sustain the cosmos. Without knowledge I cannot plan. Without wealth I cannot implement a plan. Wealth sustains life; the arts give value to life. Thus both Lakshmi and Saraswati are needed to live a full life. For the traditional worship of Saraswati elaborate rituals, supported by Vedic incantations, have been prescribed. While these are observed even today, the average householder installs an image, icon or pictorial reproduction of the goddess in a corner of his home and performs the rituals. Generally he recites verses in Sanskrit or in his own mother tongue, makes votive offerings and circumambulating it before the icon. He prays for the atonement of sins and then shares the votive offerings with members of his family. On festive occasions more elaborate worship is done and numerous delicacies are prepared by the housewife. The fare offered and blessed by the deity is partaken of as prasadam (benedictory meal). Saraswati worship is done round the year. But certain specified periods of the Hindu calendar are regarded as especially propitious for her worship. Basant Panchami which is the fifth day of the fortnight following the new moon occurring during spring (basant), generally in the month of March or late February, is observed as the day dedicated to the goddess. On this day young men and women dressed in yellow attire and adorned with flower garlands congregate and sing verses in praise of the goddess’ consecrated idol. The best part of the day is spent in music and dance and exchange of greetings. In West Bengal, the Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore had organized such celebrations at Shantiniketan near Calcutta. The tradition started by him continues to this day. Wherever there are large concentrations of people of Bengali origin, there is bound to be a Basant Panchami celebration. Various cultural and entertainment programmes and competitions of skill are organized on this occasion, which sustain the interest of the young and old alike. The other occasion on which ritualistic worship of Goddess Saraswati is done is during October every year coinciding with the first 10 days of the fortnight following the new moon (Sharad Ritu) in the autumnal month of Aswina of the Hindu lunar calendar. These ten days are called Dussehra. In the southern part of India this period is denoted by term Navratri (nine nights) and the tenth day is called Vijaya Dashami (victorious tenth day). From the sixth day (Shashti) to the ninth day (Maha Navami) Saraswati is worshipped. In fact, the ninth day is termed as Saraswati Puja day in south India. On this day students are enjoined to worship the Goddess of Learning and seek her blessings for success in their educational pursuits. In West Bengal, Saraswati Puja forms part of the Durga Puja celebration. Saraswati in the Bengali tradition is regarded as the daughter of the Mother Goddess Durga or Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. In Durga Puja, images of Durga and her children—Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartik—are installed in the specially built pavilions and celebrations go on for four days, ending with the immersion of the images in the sea of river. Durga Puja is the most important festival for the Bengalis world over and it is not only a religious festival but also an occasion for promotion of fine arts, culture and universal brotherhood.Let us join to pay our respectful & humble obeisance's to Her lotus feet!