Mā Saraswatī – The Universal Mother
As we know from history, the ancient Indian race settled in the Indus valley (now in Pakistan) and were farmers. Gradually they moved east and settled on the banks of another river which was not as massive as the Indus, but had many localized pools of water connected with narrow streams. The pool of water in Sanskrit language is called saras (সরস্) and this river came to be known as Saraswatī (সরস্বতী) , “a river of many pools.” The land around Saraswatī was very fertile and farming was easy. People had time to reflect on life and they developed the hymns of the Vedic literature that have been the source of Hindu faith.
The River Saraswatī became the source of food as well as of inspiration. Poets wrote about her and treated her as a Mother. They offered their prayers praising the river. The poetic literature gradually turned to describe her as the Universal Mother who takes care of life. Our origin might be coming from the distant stars, but our living is nurtured by the Mother. River Saraswatī became a symbol of faith and she was conceived as the ever-lasting mother for all living beings. The iconic concept of Saraswatī sitting on a swan in a pond with a book, veena and prayer beads in her hands has origin from such imagination.
As India became more philosophical, the thinkers conceived of more potent feminine energy than simple food and knowledge. They conceived that the entire universe operates with a feminine energy that they called shakti (শক্তি). The sun may have light, but it is the shakti that brings the light to earth. I may have life, but it is the shakti in me that would enable me to receive sun’s light. The concept developed that the universe is non-functional if there is no shakti. In such case there must be a remote shakti which would awaken the universe to function. They called it Parāshakti (পরাশক্তি) which we worship as Mā Kālī (মা কালী). As she awakens the universe, she also can put it into sleep. Her doings are unknown to us. We survive through Mā Kālī’s blessings. Larger forces like wars, aggressions, fire, earthquakes, volcanos, hurricanes, tsunamis etc. can come and destroy us. The universal mother transforms herself into Mā Lakṣmī (মা লক্ষ্মী) to rescue us from these disasters. Mā Lakṣmī is a shakti , that is the protector of life in the universe.
Finally, the poets conceived of a third shakti that we use every day. This shakti is the earlier river we spoke about. I must know how to use the river, I must know how to cultivate my land, I must know how to speak; I must know what is good for me! The shakti that gives me intellect was given the name Mā Saraswatī (মা সরস্বতী). Like a river, Mā Saraswatī is never hesitant in her giving. But she knows that knowledge is obtained only by studying hard to gain it. She likes people who have industry and who have patience. She is the entire source of intellect in our life. The intelligence in our brains and the strength is our muscles are caused by her shakti. She expects us to be sincere in developing our intelligence or practicing to develop our muscles. She knows that good thoughts live in pure minds, so she expects us to be pure in our mind. Dress simply, but dress clean. Be pleasant in your manners, let your voice be sweet. Let you sing a melody to your waiting friend. She plays her veena for her swan in the quiet of the pond. Her conceived image is an example of this purity.
In the nature of life we have to go places, do our studies, win competitions, pass tests, make a living, be friendly to people, fight against people who are bad to us, understand nature, make discoveries, cultivate expertise in the arts, music and dance, excel in our physical form and health, and finally excel in everything we do! All is done by the grace of Mā Saraswatī. The thought is that all our success is contained in our communication. If one thing we ask Mā Saraswatī to give, it is the purity in our speech. Let our words be clear and be expressed from our heart. Let us not hide behind statements that we do not mean. Mā Saraswatī is called Vak Devī (বাক্ দেবী), the Goddess of Speech. Once our speech is in control, our life would get its discipline. Let our voice be sweet and soft. Let it please humans, animals, birds and other living beings. Let Mā Saraswatī help us. Let us pray!
sarasvati mahābhāge vidye kamalalocane |vidyārūpe viśālākṣi vidyāṁ dehi namo’stu te সরস্বতত মহাভাগে তিগযে কমলগলাচগে | তিযোরূগপ তিশালাতি তিযোাং দযতহ েগমাঽস্তু দত
O’ Ma Saraswati, O’ Blessed One, O’ Knowledge Resource, O’ Beauty with Lotus Eyes.
O’ Embodiment of Knowledge, the Wide-Eyed One. Please give knowledge. Let prayers ring for you.