Goddess Sarasvati


Sarasvati Devi
St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies

Jul 07, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — The Goddess Durga has four famous children: two daughters--the goddess of fortune, Laksmi, and the goddess of learning, Sarasvati--and two famous sons, Lord Ganesa and Lord Karttikeya. They are all considered to be demigods and goddesses.

The power of speaking is called Sarasvati, or the goddess of learning, and the birthplace of the goddess of learning is the mouth of Brahma. Sarasvati worshiped Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His victory over the scholar who had conquered all the world.

It is stated in the Bhakti-ratnakara that Kesava Kasmiri was a favorite devotee of mother Sarasvati, the goddess of learning. By her grace he was an extremely influential scholar. Srimad Bhagavatam states that while traveling to Navadvipa, Kesava Kasmiri met Nimai Pandita (Lord Caitanya) on the banks of the Ganges. Kesava Kasmiri composed a Sanskrit verse in praise of the Ganges, and Nimai Pandita eruditely pointed out his literary mistakes. Kesava Kasmiri was then ordered by Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, to submit to the Lord, and thus the Kashmir pandita became a follower of the Lord.

Lord Nrsimhadeva is always assisted by Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, and He is always embracing to His chest the goddess of fortune. The Lord is always complete in knowledge within Himself.

The following information on the Sarasvati River was compiled and kindly contributed by Jaya Vijaya das:

There is a common understanding that whenever and wherever Ganga and Yamuna join, then Sarasvati is also there.

The Brahma-vaivarta Purana explains why Sarasvati no longer exists in her full glory: When Ganga-devi cursed Sarasvati-devi to become a river here on Mrtyuloka, one of the conditions was that she would only remain on earth as long as rishis and other great sages performed tapasya on her banks. Since we are now in Kali-yuga, there are no longer these great souls performing austerities, so she vanished.

There are many dried-up river banks of the Sarasvati that flow a little during the monsoon. We recall only a few: one near Panipat (Haryana); near Northern Gujarat; and of course in Prahbasa-tirtha/ksetra or Sind, where Krsna and Balarama left this mortal world.

The Sarasvati in the Mana-Badarinath area, that so beautifully flows and originates somewhere from Tibet/China (according the locals), is the only actual flowing Sarasvati to be physically seen today. Personally, where she joins the Alakananda at Kesava-prayaga is my favorite Himalayan bathing area. Words can't describe her beauty when the sun is shining fully.

We know that Vyasadeva's original asrama is situated in Uttara-Badari, which is in another realm and inaccessible to humans. It's mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam (1.4.15) that Vyasa's asrama is on the western banks of the Sarasvati. The current Vyasa-gufa/asrama in Mana, where most pilgrims/tourists visit, is an expansion of the original asrama and is located on the eastern bank of the Sarasvati. So it may possible that the present day Sarasvati River that we see in Mana at Kesava-prayaga is an expansion of the one mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam.

"They" always say Sarasvati is mystical at Prayaga, but just go to the Himalayas and see for yourself! Scientists claim that there is an underground source of the Sarasvati. If that is true, then she has a double appearance at the Triveni. The more the better! Just as some demigods take various human forms during the Kumbha-melas, it may be possible she also personally appears during the Kumbha-melas in a different form, as with Ganga-devi and Yamuna-devi.

As mentioned in the Puranas, when Kali-yuga progresses in sinful life, Ganga will finally disappear from this planet (in 5,000 years or so), and then all other scared rivers and tirthas will also vanish and hide until next Satya-yuga. In one way, Sarasvati is fortunate being already gone except in the Himalayas!

In our travels, we've had darshan of 5 different Triveni-sangamas/ghatas (and there must be many more):

    1) Prayaga-raja or Triveni-sangama: The Sarasvati joins the Alakananda at Kesava-prayaga at Mana-Badarinath and then they join the Bhagirathi at Deva-prayaga (becoming the Ganga). Then they travel through Rishikesh, Haridvara, Sukatala, Soro-ksetra, Kanyakubja, Bithur and finally Prayaga, where they join the Yamuna.

    2) Rishikesh or Triveni-ghata: The Ganga and Sarasvati are already together flowing down from Mana. Near the banks of the Ganga in Rishikesh there is Rishi-kund which is non-different from the Yamuna, thus becoming Triveni-ghata.

    3) Gangani or Jamadagni's asrama: On the banks of the Yamuna in Gangani in the Himalayas there is Jamadagni Rishi-kunda which is non-different than Gomukh-jala. Just opposite Gangani is another large river (I can't recall the Garhwali name) that is considered Sarasvati, thus another Triveni-sangama.

    4) Saptagrama or Triveni-ghata: In Saptagrama (West Bengal, just south of Kalna and Jirat) there is another Triveni where the seven sages performed tapasya. Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati eternally flow there and Lord Nityananda visited this place.

    5) Mayapura Dhama or Antardvipa: The Ganga and Yamuna are already flowing together coming from Prayaga. The Ganga flows on the Mayapura side and the Yamuna flows in the Navadvipa township side. Then they meet the Jalangi, which is also the Sarasvati, thus creating the original Triveni-sangama known today as Hular-ghata.

Vina-panih is called Sarasvati. Vina means that stringed instrument which is carried by Narada and also Sarasvati, the goddess of learning. Sarasvati. Students, they worship Sarasvati for getting learning, material knowledge. And we Vaisnavas, we also... He is also Sarasvati. Narada is also Sarasvati.

The honor offered to the spiritual master is transferred to Vyasadeva because Vyasadeva is the original guru. Therefore it is stated, devim sarasvatim vyasam. Sarasvati-devi, knowledge, or the goddess of education, devim sarasvatim vyasam tato jayam udirayet. After offering respects to Narayana, then Vyasadeva, Sarasvati-devi.

One who has learned the classical art of music, who engages in its culture, and who has become expert and completely aloof from material attachment is called Sarasvati. Sarasvati is the goddess of music and learning, and in one hand she holds a musical instrument called a vina. A sannyasi who is always engaged in music for spiritual elevation is called Sarasvati. One who has become completely educated and is freed from all kinds of ignorance and who is never unhappy, even in a distressed condition, is called Bharati. One who has become very expert in absolute knowledge, who is situated in the Absolute Truth, and who always discusses the Absolute Truth is called Puri.

The goddess of learning, Sarasvati, used the irregular words of a Brahmana Bengali poet to offer her prayers to the Supreme Lord: Svarupa Damodara Gosvami informed a Brahmana Bengali poet, 'Because of your ignorance and your leaning toward Mayavada philosophy, you cannot distinguish the difference between the Mayavada and Vaisnava philosophies. Therefore the process you have adopted to praise Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Jagannatha does not follow the proper system; indeed, it is irregular and offensive. Fortunately, however, through your words, the goddess of learning, mother Sarasvati, has tactfully offered her prayers to her master, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.' In that way, although your verse is blasphemous according to your meaning, mother Sarasvati has taken advantage of it to offer prayers to the Lord.

On coming out of the lotus, Brahma, being guided by the divine potency tuned his mind to the act of creation under the impulse of previous impressions. But he could see nothing but darkness in every direction. Then the goddess of learning Sarasvati, the divine consort of the Supreme Lord, said thus to Brahma who saw nothing but gloom in all directions, "O Brahma, this mantra, viz., klim krsnaya govindaya gopi-jana-vallabhaya svaha, will assuredly fulfill your heart's desire."

Excerpted from various sources, including text and Purport of HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.


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