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Basic Description: The Hindu Goddess Sarasvati is the wife (consort) of Brahma. She possesses the power of learning and wisdom. These powers represent themselves through all arts: music, painting, sculpture, dance, and writing. She is credited with presenting the gift of writing to mankind so that her songs could be written down and preserved. She is also considered the Goddess of eloquence and speech and words pour from her like a sweetly flowing river. She is the mother of the Vedas and the chants dedicated to her, called the Sarasvati Vandana, often begin and end Vedic lessons.
Alternate Names: Saraswati
History/Practices: She was originally the guardian deity of the Sarasvati River, but when an as-yet-unexplained ecological tragedy overtook that body of water and it dried up in prehistoric times, the civilization that honored her was absorbed by those of neighboring regions and she became instead a goddess of music and song. As was the case with most of the regional Indian goddesses, Sarasvati was paired off with an appropriate god, and in her case, the deity with whom she is associated is Brahma, the Creator.
Iconography: Sarasvati is usually depicted sitting on a lotus. In Hindi culture the lotus is a symbol of true knowledge. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning; mind, intellect, alertness and ego. In one hand she holds a book, which represents sciences and learning in general. This book also associates her with both instrumental and vocal music. In another hand she holds a pearl necklace. With her two other hands she holds an instrument called a Veena (Vina). She is commonly dressed in white as a sign of purity.
Mythology: Sarasvati is a jealous rival of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and so anyone pursuing wealth alone will not be helped by Saravati. Sarasvatiís Origin: Some myths say that Sarasvati was born from the god Brahma. Brahma, desiring to create the world, goes into meditation, whereupon his body divides in two, half male and half female.
Riding Animal: Sarasvatiís riding animal is a swan (another symbol of purity). However, she can occasionally be seen with a peacock.
Consort: Sarasvati is the consort of Brahma.
Moor, Edward. The Hindu Pantheon. Los Angeles: Philosophical research society, 1976.
Thomas, P. Epics, Myths and Legends of India. Bombay, India: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd, 1961.