The Goddess Saraswati
Interview with Manorama
by Lisa Dawn Angerame
For Yoga City NYC, March 2013
It is said that the trinity of the Goddess, devi, is represented by Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga. The first in the trinity, Saraswati, is the Goddess of language, learning, speech, art and music and is the force of creativity. It is late March and nature is hard at work. The trees are coming back to life, the flowers are blooming, and creativity is abound. Sanskrit scholar Manorama, who is kicking off her 2013 Drenched in Devi tour, invokes Saraswati at the beginning of any endeavor she undertakes and here is how we can too.
Lisa Dawn Angerame: What does Saraswati represent?
Manorama: Saraswati represents purity, fluidity and the awakening to our own creative potential. There’s a verse in Sanskrit that likens Saraswati to the pure jasmine flower. And there’s something about that verse that really speaks to me. She’s likened to this incredibly pure, beautiful, fragrant flower. Her radiant beauty nourishes us through the creative process by giving us everything in this life and by standing by our side through all manifestation.
LDA: What is Saraswati’s essence?
Manorama: Her essence is purity, but not purity in the context of puritanical, and not purity in the context of chaste although she might represent that as well at times. Rather, it’s the kind of purity of sacred essence. Saraswati represents our link with that holy essence that is our core. She is the deity that guides us to truly connect by standing in our Self and then allowing manifestation to move through us from that grounding.
LDA: What does Saraswati mean to you personally?
Manorama: Saraswati is definitely one of my patron deities. I am devoted to Sanskrit and she is the Goddess of Sanskrit and language overall. Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, my guru’s tradition, is also linked with Saraswati. His formal name is Brahmananda, but Saraswati is the lineage name. And his mother was called Saraswati, which is a sweet connection. When I invoke the goddess through mantra, I instantly feel more luminous. Saraswati gives me, and all of us, the needed energy to fulfill all our dreams in life.
LDA: How can we invoke Saraswati?
Manorama: Here is a simple mantra:
Om Aim Saraswatayai Svaha
Say this mantra 108 times per month while waving a small tea light, in what is called aarti. You can say 108 repetitions at one time or break the reps up into multiples of 9. For example, you would say 27 repetitions of the mantra per week which would total 108 at the end of the month. Bring any kind of white flower to an image of Saraswati. If you don’t have an image you can offer the flower as a kind of mental puja, where you extend the flower to her internally. It’s really about your offering, your reverence, so that you extend some of your energy and then she extends back and gives you fulfillment in that area.
LDA: How will invoking Saraswati help my practice?
Manorama: Our job as the student is to ask what is truly being meant by the imagery. Invoking mantras to Saraswati calls to your own creative essence asking the energy to move through you and link up with the one vibration of the universe. It is like invoking a river of energy that flows underneath you that is ever connected with all. Saraswati doesn’t determine the creation, she just gives you access to your own storehouse of creative energy that is both satisfying and fulfilling. When you are connected with your source energy your creation has an immortal and eternal quality. The body passes, the mind shifts, but something about you remains eternal. When creativity syncs with your soul, what manifests through you is eternal.
Invocation to Goddess Saraswati
Translation by Manorama
Ya Kundendu-Tusarahara-Dhavala Ya Subhra-Vastravrta
Ya Vinavara-Danda-Mandita-Kara Ya Sveta-Padmasana
Ya Brahmacyutasankara-Prabhrtibhir Devaih Sada Vandita
Sa Mam Patu Saraswati Bhagavati Nihsesa-jadyapaha
Goddess Saraswati who is pure like the jasmine flower, bright like the moon, shimmering like snow and who wears white clothing, whose hand is adorned with the excellent stick, vina (music), and who has a white lotus as her seat, and who is worshipped by all the gods, beginning with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. May that great Goddess Saraswati please protect me by completely removing all of my ignorance.
2013 Translation of Saraswati Mantra by Manorama
For students wishing to learn and work on invoking Saraswati through this verse, there is a wonderful recording of Manorama chanting this verse on the Learn to chant Yoga Invocations CD with Manorama.
The digital download is available through the Sanskrit Studies online shop
© 2014 Luminous Soul/Sanskrit Studies & Manorama