Discovering Saraswati: 5 Key Insights into Her Essence

Since time immemorial, the name 'Saraswati' has been deeply ingrained in Indian households, derived from the illustrious Goddess Saraswati. This name carries profound cultural significance, and Devi Saraswati is often depicted seated on a lotus flower, much like Devi Lakshmi. On certain occasions, a crescent adorns her forehead, and positioned beside her is her vahana (vehicle), either a swan or a goose. In her dignified posture, two of her hands gracefully cradle the Veena. These recurring depictions not only symbolize her wisdom and aesthetic sensibility but also invite contemplation on the eternal tranquility she embodies. Let's delve into some other remarkable aspects associated with Goddess Saraswati.

1. Deconstructing the Name

When we delve into the word "Saraswati," we discover that "saras" means "flow," while "waiti" denotes "she who has a," representing "she who has a flow." The direct connection between this graceful goddess and one of India's oldest rivers, believed to have originated from the Shivalik foothills, is undeniable. In the Rigveda, she is described as manifesting as a great and sacred river in north-western India. According to one legend, Saraswati transformed into a river to protect humanity from the fiery outburst of Shiva's third eye. True to her name, the deity is often portrayed draped in a flowing saree, radiating both knowledge and grace that effortlessly cascade from her divine presence. Saraswati is known by an extensive array of names, with over 1000 variations attributed to her. Some of the widely recognized ones include Sharda, Bharati, Brahmi, Brahmachaini, Budhidatri, Kshudra Ghanta, Bhuvaneshwari, and Hansawahini. Each name encapsulates a unique facet of her divine essence.


Discovering Saraswati: 5 Key Insights into Her Essence


2. The Colour White

Saraswati is frequently depicted through iconography characterized by Sattva Guna, the highest of the three "modes of existence" in Yoga philosophy. In contrast to the passionate nature of Rajas and the inertia of Tamas, Sattva represents a state of equilibrium. The symbolism is profound: the white lotus seat remains untainted amid muddy waters, the graceful white hamsa or swan signifies the ability to discern between right and wrong, the white japa mala represents the power of meditation and discipline, and the white saree she elegantly wears signifies her incorruptible nature. Thus, the patroness of wisdom imparts a profound lesson about the quality required to attain ultimate tranquility in one's life.


Discovering Saraswati: 5 Key Insights into Her Essence


3. The Consort of Saraswati

According to Matsya Purana, the first woman of the earth, Shatrupa, is linked to multiple names, one of which is believed to be Saraswati. In the mythological account, when the creator deity Brahma formed the first woman on the earth from his limb, he was enamored by her, so much so that he relentlessly pursued her wherever she moved. Brahma grew multiple heads to ensure he never lost sight of her, but when the fifth head appeared, Shatrupa accepted her fate and consented to become his consort.

In another popular version, Shiva is said to have intervened when a fifth head sprouted on top and severed it. Shiva proclaimed that due to Brahma’s gaze upon his daughter, he would not receive worship and adoration from humanity like the other two deities of the holy trinity. The interpretation of Brahma’s gaze varies among beliefs, with some considering it an incestuous gaze and others viewing it as Brahma’s egoistic admiration for his creation. Shatrupa is said to have married Manu and together they became the progenitors of Manushya, the Sanskrit term for Mankind. As per Devi Bhagwata Purana, Ganga, Parwati, and Saraswati are recognized as the wives of Lord Vishnu.


Discovering Saraswati: 5 Key Insights into Her Essence


4. Four Arms

From Goddess Durga to Lord Vishnu, the deities of Puranic mythology are often depicted with multiple hands, each carrying its own significance. In the case of Saraswati, her four hands symbolize the four essential aspects of human learning: manas (mind), ahankara (ego), buddhi (intellect), and chita (consciousness or alertness). The goddess is portrayed playing a musical instrument with her front hands, symbolizing the importance of aligning one's mind to harmonize with the world of maya or the material realm. She holds the knowledge of the Vedas and the crystal mala, signifying the tools and techniques necessary to attain and retain knowledge. While her front arms represent her engagement with worldly activities, her back arms signify her work in the spiritual realm.


Discovering Saraswati: 5 Key Insights into Her Essence


5. Her Infamy

Goddess Saraswati's reverence transcends the borders of India. In neighboring Thailand, she is worshiped as Suratsawadhi. In Cambodia, ancient Khmer literature refers to her as Vagishwari and Bharati. In China, the deity Bencaitian is believed by some to be a version of Goddess Saraswati. Similarly, in Japan, Goddess Benziaten shares similar attributes with Saraswati. Even Jainism and Buddhism acknowledge the significance of this deity as a guardian of wisdom, poetry, and literature.


Discovering Saraswati: 5 Key Insights into Her Essence


The enduring glory of Saraswati remains prevalent also because her mantras are believed to hold immense power. When chanted with correct tone and pronunciation, they have the power to enhance concentration and memory. It is no surprise, then, that Saraswati remains immensely popular among Indian students. Here, many schools reverently display her paintings along with these potent mantras, seeking to inspire and empower young minds in their pursuit of right knowledge and even wisdom. To elucidate, let me provide an example:

सरस्वति महाभागे विद्ये कमललोचने ।

विद्यारूपे विशालाक्षि विद्यां देहि नमोस्तुते ॥

Saraswati Mahabhage Vidye Kamalalochane।

Vishwaroope Vishaalaakshi Vidyam dehi namosthuthe॥

Translation: O Devi Saraswati, the most Auspicious Goddess of Knowledge with Lotus-like Eyes, An Embodiment of Knowledge with Large Eyes, Kindly Bless me with Knowledge. I salute you.



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  3. "Goddess Saraswati." Hinduism Facts. Accessed [19 June 2023]. URL: []

  4. "Saraswati - Hindu Goddess." Accessed [19 June 2023]. URL: []



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