Sunday, June 26, 2011

Allow Me to Introduce My Friend,

My dear friend Saraswati. We haven't spent as much time together as I have been tight with Lakshmi and Durga the past couple years, but Saraswati is a friend that is always understanding and available when you are ready for her presence in your life. (I did dress as her for Halloween!)

When a yogini asked me for more information about Saraswati, I was overjoyed to share what I could recall from my many reads of Shakti Mantras by Thomas Ashley-Farrand. I tried to share the convoluted tale that introduces Saraswati's homegirl, Gayatri. I realizes that this beautiful divine feminine principle has been with me from the beginning of my Portland journey, as Travis and I memorized the Gayatri mantra during our cross-country road trip up to Oregon for the first time. (I think we found the time during one of our 8 hour driving days across Eastern California desert land.

I don't feel that it is a coincidence that today I feel her influence stimulating my creative impulses! Registering for a Thai Herbal Massage workshop... finding a Parkour gym in Portland... Blackberry bush hacking... and then as I was cleaning out the shed, I came across a lovely sqaure of plywood and decided I would start painting with acrylics. Jai Saraswati!
Saraswati is the Goddess of learning, knowledge, and wisdom. The Sanskrit word sara means "essence" and swa means "self." Thus Saraswati means "the essence of the self." Saraswati is represented in Hindu mythology as the divine consort of Lord Brahma, the Creator of the universe. Since knowledge is necessary for creation, Saraswati symbolizes the creative power of Brahma.
In Her popular images and pictures, Goddess Saraswati is generally depicted with four arms (some pictures may show only two arms), wearing a white sari and seated on a white lotus. She holds a book and a mala in Her rear two hands, while the front two hands are engaged in the playing of a lute (veena). A swan is Her vehicle. There is a peacock by Her side gazing at Her. This symbolism illustrates the following spiritual ideas:
  • The lotus is a symbol of the Supreme Reality, and a white lotus also denotes supreme knowledge. By sitting on a lotus, Saraswati signifies that She is Herself rooted in the Supreme Reality, and symbolizes supreme knowledge. The white color symbolizes purity and knowledge. The white sari that the Goddess is wearing denotes that She is the embodiment of pure knowledge.
  • The four amms denote Her omnipresence and omnipotence. The two front amms indicate Her activity in the physical world and the two back arms signify Her presence in the spiritual world. The four hands represent the four elements of the inner personality. The mind (manas) is represented by the front right hand, the intellect (buddhi) by the front left hand, the conditioned consciousness (chitta) by the rear left hand, and the ego (ahankara) by the rear right hand.
  • The left side of the body symbolizes the qualities of the heart and the right side symbolizes activities of the mind and intellect. A book in the rear left hand signifies that knowledge acquired must be used with love and kindness to promote prosperity of mankind.
  • The rosary signifies concentration, meditation, and contemplation, leading to samadhi, or union with God. A rosary in the rear right hand representing ego conveys that true knowledge acquired with love and devotion melts the ego and results in liberation (moksha) of the seeker from the bondage to the physical world.
  • The Goddess is shown playing a musical instrument that is held in Her front hands, which denote mind and intellect. This symbol conveys that the seeker must tune his mind and intellect in order to live in perfect harmony with the world. Such harmonious living enables the individual to utilize acquired knowledge for the welfare of all mankind.
  • Two swans are depicted on the left side of the Goddess. A swan is said to have a sensitive beak that enables it to distinguish pure milk from a mixture of milk and water. A swan, therefore, symbolizes the power of discrimination, or the ability to discriminate between right and wrong or good and bad. Saraswati uses the swan as Her carrier. This indicates that one must acquire and apply knowledge with discrimination for the good of mankind. Knowledge that is dominated by ego can destroy the world.
  • A peacock is sitting next to Saraswati and is anxiously waiting to serve as Her vehicle. A peacock depicts unpredictable behavior as its moods can be influenced by the changes in the weather. Saraswati is using a swan as a vehicle and not the peacock. This signifies that one should overcome fear, indecision, and fickleness in order to acquire true knowledge.
Bansi Pandit

* This Goddess photoshoot orchestrated by my amazing AcroYoga teacher, Lila Donnolo
You can keep up with her Acro Adventures too!.
BMAC's Photo Blog & Portfolio is worth a click :) Many Portland yogis & artists grace his website. *

A thousand, a million words that create an intellectual understanding are not as precious as the one word blended with intuition that produces understanding in a flash: Saraswati.

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