Names and forms of Shri Saraswati Devi and their meanings

We have all seen the idol or picture of Deity Shri Saraswatidevi, and even heard some stories about Her. Whether it’s a student studying for exams or a scholar writing a research book, or an artist performing in front of an audience, we find that Shri Saraswatidevi’s Grace is invoked everywhere, including at the inauguration ceremonies of all endeavors. Shri Saraswatidevi is the Deity of Divine Knowledge and Art. Her worship makes the devotee’s intellect sattvik (Pure), and helps the devotee master different types of knowledge and arts. In this article, you will be able to obtain in-depth knowledge about the Goddess, and find out the ways to enhance your understanding about Her several names and forms.

 

1. Origin and meaning

‘सरसः अवती’ (‘SarasahaAwati’) means one who provides knowledge with consistent speed, that is, one who provides momentum. She is the active form of inactive Deity Brahma; hence, it is said that She is the ‘Shakti (Divine Energy) providing momentum to Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh’.

 

2. Names of Shri Saraswatidevi

2A. Shri Saraswatidevi is known by three names

1. ‘Vanidayini (Bestower of speech) (Shabdabrahma),

2. ‘Swaradayini’ (Bestower of the note of music) (Talabrahma), and

3. Dnyanadayini’ (Bestower of Divine Knowledge) (Nadabrahma)

– A Scholar (Through the medium of Mrs. Anjali Gadgil [14.12.2005], 11.47 a.m.)

2B. Sharada

Meaning : ‘Sharada’ is one who is the supporter of the study of the Shat-shastras (Six Sciences); which means that She is the supporter of all knowledge.

2C.Some other Names

1. Vak

2. Vagdevi

3. Vagishwari

4. Vani

5. Bharati

6. Vinapani, and many others

 

3. Creation

3A. Shri Mahasaraswatidevi

3A 1. Creation

‘Brahmadev originated from Shri Vishnu. At that time, 95% of the BrahmanPrinciple was in nirgun (Non-materialised) form, that is, in an inactive state. Only 5% of the Principle was in a sagun (Materialised) form, that is, in an active state. For the creation of the universe, more than 50% of the Brahman Principle had to be in an active state. Thus,Shri Mahasaraswatidevi was created to activate the required Brahman Principle.

3A 2. Special characteristics

1. Shri Saraswatidevi’s form has a greater proportion of nirgun Principle.

2. Shri Saraswatidevi’s omnipresent form.

3A 3. Dwelling Place

Saraswatilok is a sub-region of the Brahmalok in Shakti form. Saraswati’s tarak (Saviour) or marak (Destroyer) form (Mahasaraswati) manifests as per the need from  the Saraswatilok and becomes active at the vyashtị (Individual) or samashtị (For the sake of the society) level.

3A 4. Function

On creation of Mahasaraswatidevi, 50% of the Brahmatattva (Brahma Principle) was activated. From it, subtler subtle most realms such as the subtle-world, various subtle-regions, Deities Principles were created. This was the creation of the universe at the nirgun (Non-materialised) level.

3B. Shri Saraswatidevi

3B 1. Creation

For creation at the gross level, subtle and subtler level, Deity Brahma felt the need for a Shakti that could work at the sagun level. Hence, sagun Shri Saraswatidevi was created.

3B 2. Functions

Through the process of creation of Shri Saraswatidevi, the sagun form of the Deities, their weapons, tools, palaces, their unique regions in the gross, various categories of regions, from Sagunlok (Materialised region) in the universe, right up to the Saptapatal (Seven regions of Hell) and the jiva residing there were created. (Gross, subtle, subtler and subtle most are stages which are subtler than the one preceding it.)’

– God (Through the medium of Ms. MadhuraBhosale

 

4. Related forms

4A. Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi and Mahakali

Shakti, which is in the form of prakruti (or Maya) and is comprised by triguna (Sattva, Raja and Tama –the three basic components of the human body) is called ‘Aparashakti’. According to one school of thought, when the trigunatmakShakti manifests as Sattva, Raja and Tama, it takes the form of Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi and Mahakali. It is because of these three Shaktis alone that Deities Brahma, Shrivishnu and Mahesh are activated and are able to perform their functions related to Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution respectively.

According to Shri Durgasaptashati, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati are the principal forms of Durga. Mahakali is the symbol of kaltattva (Time Principle), Mahasaraswatii s the symbol of gatitattva (Speed Principle) and Mahalakshmi is the symbol of diktattva(Direction Principle). It is in the womb of kal (Time) that all matter gets destroyed. Where there is no gati the process of Creation declines. Even then, for creation, nurturing and its progress a Shakti is always active in all the eight directions. This is Adyashakti (Primal Divine Energy). The above-mentioned three Principles remain constant or uninterrupted in this Mahashakti.

4B. Shri Saraswati, Shri Lakshmi and Shri Kalimata

4C. Tripurasundari

Tripurasundari is the union of Shri Saraswati, Shri Lakshmi, and Shri Kalimata; hence, She is superior to all.

4D. Navadurga

Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati are the three main forms of Shakti. Two additional forms were added to each of these three main forms, thus resulting in threefold form of each. Thus, the nine forms that were created were named as Navadurga.

4E. The main attributes of each of the three
forms of Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati

Mahasaraswati Mahalakshmi Mahakali
1. Raja-Sattva Sattva Tama-Sattva
2. Raja Sattva-Raja Tama-Raja
3. Raja-Tama Sattva-Tama Tama

Note : According to one school of thought, more Shakti is required for Creation than that required for Sustenance; hence Mahasaraswati is Raja-predominant and Mahalakshmi related to this aspect that ‘life should go on smoothly’ is Sattva-predominant. According to another school of thought, more Shakti is required for Sustenance than it is for Creation; hence, Mahalakshmi (who is fickle) is related to the Raja component, and the provider of knowledge, Mahasaraswati, is related to the Sattva component.

 

5. The Family of Shri Saraswatidevi

5A. Brahmadev

5A 1. Shri Saraswatidevi has been created from Brahmadev

Everything has been created from Deity Brahma. For an individual to understand that Shri Saraswatidevi has also been created from Deity Brahma, it is said that Shri Saraswatidevi is Deity Brahma’s daughter.

5A 2. Reason for believing that Deity Brahma’s Shakti is Shri Saraswatidevi

Mahasaraswatidevi and Shri Saraswatidevi did become Deity Brahma’s Shakti at the nirgun and sagun level respectively and helped Him in His task of creating the universe. Shri Saraswatidevi is Deity Brahma’s Shakti active at the nirgun and sagu nlevel. Deity Brahma’s Shakti is merged with Him. It is activated according to need. To help us understand this, it is believed that Shri Saraswatidevi is Deity Brahma’s Shakti.

5B. Brahmadev and Shri Saraswatidevi :Brahmadev and Shri Saraswatidevi show the oneness between Parabrahman (Supreme God) and Brahman (God)

Since the superior Deities are always at the nirgun level, they do not function by taking gross form as humans do. Hence, they are always merged or are in a state of oneness. To give a vision to a devotee at the sagun level or to perform a special task, they take a gross form for a limited period. However, they cannot have a husband and wife relationship. All relations are at the level of jiva and jivatma (Embodied soul undertaking spiritual practice). Even though the Deities take a gross form, they remain in the stage of Shiv and Shivatma (God-realised soul). Hence, an individual should not have any misunderstanding about the relationship of Brahmadev and Shri Saraswatidevi and Radha-Krushna. Brahmadev and Shri Saraswatidevi denote the oneness of Parabrahman and Brahman, while Shrikrushna and Radha show the oneness between Paramatma (Supreme Soul) and atma (Soul).

 Reference: Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy Text titled “Shri Saraswatidevi”