Goddess of Knowledge


Hindus believe that the divine spirit is a combination of the male and female principle - representing the potential and kinetic energy of the universe. One can't do without the other.

There are three functions of the divine -

G - Generate / create
O - Operate / maintain
D - Dissolve

As sustainable, balanced creation requires intelligence, it is entrusted to Sarasvati and her husband Brahma.

Sarasvati is the source of all knowledge. She is the inspiration of the oldest known scriptures - the Vedas. In honour of the goddess of knowledge, sages who wrote the Vedas, named the river they lived around, Sarasvati.


As a rule, icons of Hindu gods and goddesses represent ideals rather than actuals. So, when they show multiple hands / heads etc, they represent greater power / intelligence / functions / ability etc. Iconographically, some items are used as visual keys to easily identify gods and goddess at a glance.

Sarasvati is often represented with four arms to represent her multi tasking ability. She often holds the

1) book = representing the written word.
2) Rosary = spiritual knowledge
3) Sacred water pot = power to sanctify and purify
4) Vina = long stringed musical instrument to represent the sacred arts

Iconographically, Vina is the main identifier of Sarasvati.

It represents the sacred & fine arts, culture and science of music. It also represents her ability to be in tune with the creation to bring harmony to the universe.

Lotus, in most Eastern cultures, represents purity. Though lotus grows from mud around ponds and river banks, its petals and leaves are spotlessly clean.  Sarasvati is usually shown sitting on a white lotus, to represent that she stands for spirituality and purity.

Sarasvati is often associated with swans and peacocks.
Swans represent the ability to separate good from the bad, spiritual from the mundane. As they fly over the highest peaks of the Himalayas, they also represent the ability to go from the material world to the spiritual world.
Peacocks represent beauty - enchanting complexity and beauty of knowledge.


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Names in Sanskrit are used to represent specific characteristic of the named person / object. Here are some of the meanings of her many names.

Sarasvati = is the one who gives the essential knowledge (Sara) of our own Self (Sva)

Sarada = giver of essence

Brahmi = wife of Brahma the creator

Mahavidya = supreme / ultimate knowledge

Bharati = she who is eloquent

Arya = noble one

Maha-vani = she who is in charge of the transcendent word

Vagishvari = mistress of speech. It is through speech that knowledge manifests in action.

Hamsavahini = she who rides on a swan

Vina-pani = she who the Vina (string instrument) in her hands

Vinidra = she who is always awake - awareness is intelligence (sleep is equated to state of unconsciousness and hence ignorance)

In Buddhism, she is known as Tara ; in Japan, she is known as Benzaiten ; in Tibetan culture, she is known as Yeshey Tsogyel.


We also begin all new studies by first asking for Sarasvati's blessing, requesting her to remove our ignorance and reveal the inner truth / true knowledge.

As Hindus, we show our respect for Sarasvati by never kicking or touching any book / paper / musical instrument with our feet.
We respect all teachers and gurus as representatives of the great goddess.

First day of spring is dedicated to Sarasvati, as knowledge blossoms forth from what looked barren a short while ago.
Sarasvati is also worshipped during Navratri and Divali as the principle deity of happiness and peace that knowledge gives you.


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