Literally Saraswati means 'the flowing one.' Indeed, in the Rigveda she represents a river. Hence she is connected with fertility and purification. Some of the other names used to describe her are Sarada (giver of essence); Vageshvari (mistress of speech); Brahmi (wife of Brahma); and Mahavidya (supreme knowledge). Metaphorically, the 'flowing one' can represent speech also.
Seated on a lotus pedestal, she is four-armed. These symbolize her unimpeded power in all directions and her all-pervasiveness.
Being the goddess of learning, it is but natural that she holds a book in
one of her left hands. This book is a symbol of all areas of secular
sciences. But mere intellectual learning, without a heart tempered by higher
feelings, sentiments and emotions, is as dry as saw-dust. So she holds an
animal head vina (lute) which she actually plays, to show the need for the
cultivation of the fine-arts. Then there is the akshamala (rosary) in the
right hand. This represents the spiritual sciences of Yoga which include
tapas (austerities); meditation; and japa (repetition of the divine name).
Thus Saraswati is the patron goddess of all the three realms of knowledge
(secular sciences, fine arts, and spirituality) which taken together
encompass the complete range of knowledge available in the universe.
The goddess is wearing a type of crown known as the karandamukuta. This
crown tapers to a point like a pile of plates in narrower and narrower
layers. Her delicate feminine head is framed by a solar halo, where the rays
are stylized as lotus petals.
This sculpture was created in the small town of Aligarh, situated in the
state of Uttar Pradesh.
Of Related Interest:
An Ever-Flowing Grace
The Cosmic Form of Saraswati
Saraswati Seated on a Swan
The Goddess of Learning
Gods and Goddesses of India: Saraswati
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