• Who You Gonna Run to? Saraswati: Her Magic of Wealth and Power, YOGA INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2016

    Posted in Articles by Eric Shaw


    These days, “The Goddess” is all the rage.

    One of the goddesses we love to rage about is Saraswati.  

    This alot to do with the details of her job description:  she is the ruler of wisdom, the arts, and music.

    Like most goddesses, she’s drop-dead gorgeous (which adds to her deep charisma!).

    But who is Saraswati really?

    In this article, you’ll get the down-low on her name, her myth, and the philosophies that make her significant in the Indian pantheon.


    First, her name.

    Saraswati’s name has a many, many meanings—as do most Sanskrit terms!

    One of her names comes from an Indian creation myth that tells the story about the first thing to evolve in the universe: a great, big Golden Egg (called Hiranyagarbha).

    In this myth, Hiranyagarbha divides  into the gods Saraswati and Brahma—who then become water and breath.

    Saraswati is the water part, because saras means, “anything flowing or fluid.”

    From this, Saraswati gets the title, “She who flows like water.”

    But, the “water” part of her name reaches into the tangle of history and texts to reveal even more layers of association.

    When we identify her with water, we identify her with wealth.

    In Sanskrit, there is a term that combines both meanings: rayi means both “water” and “wealth.”  The term rayi and its associations are a focus of the 4th century BCE scripture called the Prashna Upanishad.

    This isn’t unique.  Goddesses are representative of wealth throughout the Hindu pantheon.

    Saraswati is already a goddess of wisdom and among goddesses of all traditions wisdom and wealth are often found together.  This is partly because the insight they gained from having an objective viewpoint outside public life amidst the reflective pace of life safe at home helped guide families to choices that produced good fortune.

    Wise wives and mothers are honored in both East and West.

    In the Western tradition, it is reflected in Sophia, the representative of feminine wisdom referenced in Proverbs 9:1-6:

    Wisdom [sophia] has built her house;
        she has set up[a] its seven pillars.
    She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
        she has also set her table.
    She has sent out her servants, and she calls
        from the highest point of the city,
        “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
    To those who have no sense she says,
        “Come, eat my food
        and drink the wine I have mixed.
    Leave your simple ways and you will live;
        walk in the way of insight.


    Saraswati also means “she who has speech,” because saras means “speech,” too.

    Think of the water-like flow of your thoughts, or the wisdom-flow of a mature person’s conversation.

    Saraswati’s identity, in this case, partly evolved from that of an older goddess called Vac (vac being the old Indo-European root of our word, “voice”).

    In the Vedas, India’s first sacred texts (c. 1800–800 BCE), Vac was a goddess of speech.

    She was important because the agni hotraor “fire ritual,” which was central to Vedic culture, depended on mantras being spoken very precisely in the Vedic language (which later became the sacred argot of Sanskrit).

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