Saturday, January 24, 2015

Om Sarashwatyai Namah -- Celebration of Ma Saraswati - The Giver of Knowlege

Knowledge or Wisdom, when the ancient seers of India envisioned her, appeared as a gushing, flow of live giving water, sometimes gurgling along as a gentle stream, sometimes thunderously rushing past breaking all barriers and obstacles. Forever mobile and changing. No doubt therefore Goddess of Knowledge was named after the most important river in the history of Indian history - The Saraswati, the cradle of Indian Civilization. 

Ma Sarasawati is the Goddess of Knowledge and Arts. Today is Saraswati Puja, the celebration and the special day of worship of the Ma Saraswati.

My association with Ma Saraswati has been from childhood through the Saraswati Puja which is a significant festival for the Bengalis like the rest of India. As kids my brother and I would run to Mom with our books, so that she could place them in front of the Divine Mother for some special grace to help with our studies.  Subjects that were specially hard to me such as trigonometry  or civics found special position in the Puja, because I was convinced that I could get through them only through the Mother's grace and blessings.  There also used to be the locality pujas which were organized mainly by older children under the watchful eyes of the grown ups. 

In our young Minds, Ma Saraswati, was this benevolent deity whose propitiation was necessary to do good in studies and pass exams. So with all the respect we could muster and with eyes firmly shut in apparent bhakti, all of us kids would try to outshout each other as we chanted her mantras, for who knows what amazing blessings were in store if you could just manage to get ourselves heard.  The most common mantra we chanted was this one:

सरस्वति महाभागे विद्ये कमललोचने ।
विद्यारूपे विशालाक्षि विद्यां देहि नमोस्तुते ॥

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

(Taken from this page)

Of course in reality, what Ma Saraswati represents is a knowledge that is far deeper. It the knowledge of the Self, a concept that forms the core of Indian philosophy.  The meaning of world, universe, multi-verse, life itself or whatever else that is perceived or is beyond is not be sough without, but within, either in terms of the relation between the Self and the Super-self or as an identification of the Self with the Super-self, depending upon the school of philosophy that you choose to follow. Ma Saraswati is therefore the giver of divine knowledge or I would argue the only knowledge for which the soul takes the human birth. She therefore is the patron of all Gyan yogis everywhere. For isn't it Knowledge, especially Brahma Gyan, in which resides our Salvation, our enlightenment and redemption?  I dare say, it does.  The name Sarawati itself pays homage to the Ma Saraswati's role in imparting knowledge of Self to her children.  In my own personal journey today Ma Saraswati is my refuge, my inspiration, my guide.

I am amazed at the genius of our ancient thinkers and rishis who could take such a subtle concept, and impart it a persona which could bring it within the grasp of the laity like us.

Today, as my son sang the hymn - Sri Vani  Kalyani during a special prayer of Ma Sarawati, I was also reminded that my Father, the great classical singer that he was, prayed to Ma as a Goddess of the arts as well. Swami Vivekanda invoked her before his famous speech in parliament of religions. Ma Saraswati has inspired numerous  creation of arts, as music, sculpture, paintings, verses and prose. One of my favourites is a piece created by the Japanese composer Kitaro..  I leave you with the melodious strains of the superb creation that must have been graced by Ma Saraswati's blessings to have come out so nicely.

Om Sarashwatyai Namah

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