• Learning About Saraswati, Wealth, and Power, YOGA INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2016

    Posted in Articles by Eric Shaw

    Learning about Saraswati, Wealth, and Power


    This painting by Western artist Amanda Giacomini depicts Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, wisdom, and the arts.

    As with many of the gods in the yoga pantheon, her name has a great number of meanings—as do most Sanskrit terms!

    One of Saraswati’s names relates to an important Indian creation myth, in which the first thing that existed was the Golden Egg (Hiranyagarbha). In this myth, the Golden Egg split into the gods Saraswati and Brahma, which became water and breath. Saraswati is water, with saras meaning “anything flowing or fluid”—hence, one meaning of Saraswati can be “she who flows like water.” Because water is a metaphor for wealth (and rayi means both “water” and “wealth” in Sanskrit), Saraswati holds a place in the Hindu pantheon, as does the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi (along with many other female deities). It is common for goddesses in many traditions to symbolize not just wealth, but also wisdom. We may think of Sophia in this regard—a Judeo-Christian representative of the wisdom of the feminine.

    Saraswati also means “she who has speech,” as saras means “speech” as well. Think of the water-like flow of your thoughts, or the wisdom-flow of speech. Saraswati’s identity, in this case, partly evolved from that of the older goddess Vac (vac being the root of “voice”). In the Vedas, India’s first sacred texts (c. 1800–800 BCE), Vac was the goddess of speech. Vac was an important deity at that time because the agni hotra (or “fire ritual” central to Vedic culture) depended on mantras being spoken very precisely in the Vedic language, which later became Sanskrit.

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