Showing posts with label Saraswati. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Saraswati. Show all posts

Hinduism - What Is A Vina?


A multi-stringed musical instrument with a long hollow body and a sounding box at the bottom; the top has a huge hollow gourd jutting from the rear, which amplifies the sound even more.

  • The vina is a classical musical instrument used in southern India, where mastery of the instrument is still prized.
  • The goddess Saraswati is most firmly connected with the vina in Indian imagery, in line with her role as patron Goddess of the arts, culture, and learning.

~Kiran Atma

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Hinduism - What Is A Traditional 'Pustaka'?


A book typically formed of palm leaves joined by a thread flowing through a hole punched in the center and protected by a wooden cover on top and bottom to prevent the leaves from being twisted or damaged.

The goddess Saraswati is most firmly connected with the book in Indian iconography, in line with her role as patron Goddess of the arts, culture, and learning.

It is also often shown as one of the deity Brahma's possessions.

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Hinduism - Who Is Manthara In Hindu Mythology?


Manthara is the hunchbacked maid of King Dasharatha's wife, Kaikeyi, in the Ramayana, the older of the two major Indian epics.

Kaikeyi's mind is steadily poisoned by Manthara's whisperings against Dasharatha's son Rama, the god-king who is the epic's protagonist.

She persuades the queen that if she and her son Bharata are permitted to survive after Rama is crowned Dasharatha's heir, they would be no better than slaves.

Kaikeyi is persuaded by Manthara to claim two boons that Dasharatha granted her years ago.

With the first boon, she orders Rama to be exiled to the jungle for fourteen years, and with the second, she orders Rama's son Bharata to be anointed heir in his stead.

The earliest version of the epic, Valmiki's Ramayana, portrays Manthara as a true villain.

Although, given the concept in karma, her physical impairments would have been perceived as showing moral and spiritual deformities as well, there is little explanation for her behavior.

Manthara's actions is finally attributed to the gods in the Ramayana, authored by the poet-saint Tulsidas (1532–1623? ), who send the goddess Saraswati to muddle Manthara's mind, putting in motion the sequence of events leading to the demon Ravana's destruction.

Tulsidas, in typical Tulsidas manner, gives the incident a more altruistic spin, linking it to Rama's ultimate reason for being born on Earth.

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Hinduism - Who Is Mahasaraswati In The Hindu Pantheon?

The Devimahatmya, the oldest and most significant source for Goddess mythology, depicts the goddess Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi, and Mahakali in three separate manifestations.

The narrative starts with the creation of the universe.

The deity Brahma is attacked by two demons called Madhu and Kaitabha as he emerges from the lotus sprouting from the god Vishnu's navel.

Brahma attempts to avoid the demons, but Vishnu is unable to assist him since he is deep sleeping, overpowered by the Goddess's influence.

She only leaves Vishnu when Brahma praises the Goddess, allowing him to awaken.

The demons' brains are then clouded, allowing Vishnu to deceive (and slay) them.

Saraswati is the goddess of art, learning, and culture in the Hindu pantheon—anything involving the life and activity of the intellectual and aesthetic faculties.

Mahasaraswati is also associated with intelligence, implying that she has the power to influence people's perceptions.

See David R. Kinsley's Hindu Deities, 1986, for further information about Mahasaraswati and the Hindu goddesses.

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Hinduism - What Was The Indus Valley Civilization?


(3000–2000 B.C.E.) Because the first two sites found, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, both situated on the Indus River in what is now Pakistan, the civilization is known as Mohenjo-Daro-Harappa.

Other sites along the Indus, as well as a network of settlements reaching east to the upper Ganges valley, south through the present state of Gujarat and into modern Maharashtra, and along the coast of modern Pakistan, have been discovered.

The most concentrated concentration of these communities has been discovered along the banks of the Ghaggar River, a tiny seasonal watercourse that passes across Rajasthan.

Some historians believe it is the ancient Saraswati River's bed.

The evidence suggests that the sites farther south evolved later, but remained important after the cities of the Indus River Valley, notably Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, had faded into obscurity.

The discovery of these sites in the early twentieth century triggered important historical revisions, since it had previously been widely accepted that the Aryans were India's first sophisticated society.

The most notable aspect of these towns is their uniformity—their main city plans were essentially same from place to place (though scale varied), the bricks used in all of them were the same size, and there was a standardized system of weights and measures.

Each city also featured a massive central granary, which housed the grain required to feed such a large population.

Such seeming homogeneity across such great distances points to a powerful and centralized authority, which some experts suggest was religious in character.

A sophisticated sanitation system was another distinguishing aspect of all the cities.

All of the dwellings had water channels, and an intricate network of drains and sewers flowed throughout the city, even in the lowest areas where the houses were the tiniest and the residents were supposedly the poorest.

The archaeologists have named the "Great Bath" a large tank made of brick and covered with pitch at Mohenjo-Daro.

Why was cleanliness and bathing so important to the people who created these cities? According to some academics, this was due to a religious concern for ceremonial purity rather than cleanliness.

Many of the artifacts from these cities have been remarkably well preserved, and they provide us with a fairly complete picture of their material culture, including what they ate (wheat and barley were the primary food grains), what they wore (cotton), which animals they had domesticated (cattle, fowl, goats, sheep, pigs, donkeys, and dogs), and everyday implements.

More than 2,000 miniature seals were discovered during archeological investigations, which are thought to have acted as emblems for merchant families.

Many of the seals have text on them that has never been decoded, as well as realistic drawings of animals and people.

Three of the seals have a horned figure seated on the ground with his upper legs extended and his heels touching.

The image on these seals has been mentioned by some viewers as evidence that the Indus Valley civilization is the ultimate source for the deity Shiva, who does not appear in the Vedas, the earliest Hindu religious books, but subsequently becomes one of the principal Hindu deities.

Similarly, the discovery of a number of sculptures of women with greatly exaggerated feminine characteristics—breasts, buttocks, and genitalia—has led some to speculate that this society was the foundation of the later Hindu religion of the Mother Goddess.

One of the most contentious issues surrounding the Indus Valley civilization is who lived there and if their descendants still reside in India.

A period of interaction between the residents of these towns and a pastoral group of foreigners known as the Aryans is described in the widely accepted idea among Western researchers.

Sanskrit, the Aryan language, has structural similarities with classical European languages and much more so with the Avesta, ancient Iranian holy scriptures.

Scholars have inferred that all of these languages came from a common mother language, and that people speaking this parent language originated in central Asia, somewhere near the Caspian Sea, based on an analysis of the relationships between these languages and the rate at which these languages have changed.

From there, some traveled west to Europe, some southwest to Turkey, and yet others south to Iran and then India.

This hypothesis is therefore almost entirely predicated on observable linguistic similarities and assumptions about the pace of language development, some of which are unavoidably arbitrary.

The skeletons of horses discovered at Indus Valley sites provide the only piece of tangible support for this idea.

According to references based on Aryan religious texts, the Vedas, the horse was an established part of Aryan life, whereas it appears to have been absent from the Indus Valley cities—it is not depicted on any of the carved seals, which show many other animals, and the only bones recovered from the Indus Valley cities are found in the most recent archeological strata.

This idea portrays a time of contact and maybe war between the Aryans and the peoples of the Indus Valley, following which Aryan culture and religion became the dominating force in Indian society.

Until they were excavated in the early twentieth century, the Indus Valley towns were completely forgotten.

Although the Aryan migration idea explains the spread of numerous languages, it is not widely accepted.

Many contemporary Indians believe in the Indigenous Aryan (IA) idea, which claims that the Aryans were India's first occupants and cites relics from the Indus Valley civilization as evidence.

Some followers of the IA are responding to what they see to be a colonialist bias in the Aryan migration theory, which was devised by Europeans and implies that the dominant populations in contemporary India must have arrived from outside.

Hindutva supporters, who associate being Hindu with being Indian, are also supporters.

The IA thesis enables Hindutva supporters to assert that all Indians, regardless of their religious views, are "really" Hindus and hence form one social group.

In contemporary India, where Christians and Muslims are not simply religious groups, but also social and political ones, this argument has significant political ramifications.

Hindutva supporters marginalize Christians and Muslims as outsiders by connecting Hindu identity with good Indian citizenship.

Although such assertions are fascinating, there is little evidence to support them.

The fact is that researchers have retrieved a large number of tangible items, but it is unclear what these objects imply.

We know, at the very least, that this society thrived for over a thousand years.

Its ultimate collapse occurred approximately 2000 B.C.E., according to one idea, due to a severe drought.

Walter Ashlin Fairservis, The Roots of Ancient India, 1975, is a good source of knowledge.

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Hinduism - Who Is Goddess Ganga In Hindu Mythology? What Is Lord Vishnu's Promise To Her?


The deity whose physical form is the Ganges River in Hindu mythology.

The Ganges is revered because it is said to be a goddess who has the capacity to cleanse individuals who bathe (snana) in it of their sins.

Several stories exist to explain her origins.

The most well-known is the story of King Bhagirath, who succeeds in bringing the Ganges down from heaven to earth by ascetic discipline.

Bhagirath is the great-greatgrandson of King Sagar, whose 60,000 sons were burnt to ashes by the sage Kapila's magical abilities after falsely accusing Kapila of thievery.

Later, Kapila informs Anshuman, King Sagar's grandson and only living descendent, that bringing the Ganges down from heaven to earth is the only way to restore peace to the spirits of Sagar's sons.

Anshuman, like his son Dilip before him, tries miserably to achieve this goal.

Bhagirath, Dilip's son, is moved by their efforts and retreats to the Himalayas, where he practices asceticism until the gods agree to bring the Ganges down to earth.

Bhagiratha's efforts, however, are not yet complete.

Then he must win the favor of the deity Shiva, who must agree to absorb the impact of the falling river on his head.

Otherwise, the earth will be destroyed by its might.

The Ganges eventually crashes to earth on Shiva's head when everything is in place.

Bhagirath brings Ganga down of the mountains and to the sea, where she touches the ashes of his forefathers and the two of them eventually find peace.

This legend emphasizes the Ganga's salvific power as well as her close ties to the dead's final rituals (antyeshthi samskara).

According to another legend, the Ganges descends to earth as a result of a curse declared by Vishnu and his wives Ganga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati after a family feud.

Saraswati becomes enraged and proceeds to beat Ganga when she witnesses Ganga and Vishnu sharing passionate looks in public.

As Lakshmi attempts to stop her, Saraswati unleashes a series of curses, including Vishnu's birth as a stone (the shalagram), Lakshmi's birth as a plant (the tulsi plant), and Ganga's birth as a river, carrying the world's sins.

Saraswati is cursed to become a river throughout the struggle.

Ganga's punishment is sweetened by Vishnu's promise that she would be regarded exceedingly holy on earth and will have the capacity to cleanse people's sins.

She will also descend from heaven onto the head of the deity Shiva and become his spouse, according to Vishnu. 

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An Ode to the Goddess

Have mercy, O Goddess who relieves the pain of your supplicants!

Be humble, Mother of the Universe!

O world-protecting mistress of the cosmos!

Please, have mercy!

You're the mistress of all that moves and doesn't move!

You are the world's sole pillar, residing in the shape of earth.

You nourish the world in the shape of the oceans, O you of unrivalled prowess.

You are Vishnu's strength, boundless light.

You are the universe's ultimate seed.

This planet is raptured eternally by your intelligence, 

the web of illusion you cast in your endless bliss, O resplendent Goddess!

You are the source of release on Earth while you are gracious.

All the infinite wisdom and sciences live within you, Goddess.

You are all women, and you are the entirety of the universe.

This world is populated entirely by you, O Mother.

How do we thank you because you alone are the most praiseworthy manifestation of the high and low?

Praise be to you, Narayani, whose hands and feet are everywhere, whose heads, mouths, and eyes are everywhere, who watches and listens from every part of existence!

Save us from harm, O Mistress of the Cosmos, whose essence is the earth, overflowing with all forces!

Praise be to you, goddess Durga!

Katyayani, with your friendly face, I salute you!

Protect us from our worries, three-eyed Goddess!

Bhadrakali, I salute you.

Might your terrifying trident, encrusted with flaming stakes, Destroyer of all demons, hold us safe!

May your bell, which annihilates the Daityas' glory when it fills the earth with sound, shield us, your sons, from evil!

Might your blade be auspicious, smeared with demon blood and fat, ablaze with rays!

We bow to you, Candika!

Be generous to those who prostrate themselves before you, Goddess who takes away the world's misery!

Bestow boons upon these planets, worthy of worship from all who dwell in the triple universe!

~ Kiran Atma

The Puranas call several Goddesses, each with their own unique personality. They play a variety of roles, including wife, lover, and destroyer. Brahma and Vishnu's wives tend to be nothing more than appendages to their celestial husbands, with no tales or personality of their own. Yet, like Siva himself, Siva's queen, Devi, or "the Goddess," seems to be a jumble of diverse identities, both beneficent and fierce. It's unclear if the Goddess's various names refer to deities, or if the Goddess's plethora of epithets simply reflect the various qualities of what has only been a single deity.

The origins of Goddesses in Indian culture seem to be in doubt, provided that the Vedas, the oldest literature of this tradition, makes no mention of female deities of any type. However, the issue is even more serious. While their origins can be traced back to Vedic gods, both Vishnu and Siva, for example, have complex personalities in the epics and Puranas that appear out of nowhere, with divine feats and qualities that do not present in Vedic history.

The Goddesses feel the same way. The undocumented religious traditions of the indigenous, pastoral peoples of India who populated the Indus Valley long before the proto-Sanskrit speaking nomadic Aryans invaded northwest India around 1500 B.C. may provide an explanation for this.

For over a century, the Aryans dominated the hybrid civilization that resulted. The Vedas, their oral literature, show a sacrificial cult that worshipped celestial deities like Varuna of the heavens, Indra of the thunderstorm, and Surya, the light, to the exclusion of all Goddesses and earthly divinities.

Female figurines and phallic artefacts, on the other hand, abound in the archaeological remains of Indus Valley civilization, almost definitely used in some religious ritual, and aimed at the fertility of humans, animals, and the Earth. As a result, it's possible that the Puranic Goddesses are relics of non-Aryan indigenous peoples of the Indian subcontinent's fertility worship.

In the course of time their Aryan conquerors increasingly adopted the local religious practices until, in Epic and Puranic literature, the older tales were at last retold in the official language of the Aryans themselves, Sanskrit. Via the same phase the religious traditions and values of the lower classes become part of the upper-class or ruling culture of the country. Except for the fierce and warlike Durga and Kali, nearly every Goddess in the Puranas is married to a deity. Maybe the union of Gods and Goddesses in Hindu mythology represents a convergence that happened in the early history of Indian civilization between two distinct races and cultures.

Certainly, the Goddesses as wives are fully reliant on their gods, just as the tribal people were defeated and made slaves by the invading Aryans. In either case, it appears that the tales contained in the Puranas only include snippets of the Goddesses' lives in Indian culture. Depending on her mood, the Goddess brings fertility or pestilence and death to modern-day rural India. As a mother, she is both the source of life and the terrifying force that takes it away prematurely due to starvation or disease or calamity. Female deities, on the other hand, play several roles in the Puranas.

The Goddess can be a mother, a wife, a lover, or a war-like destroyer, but she is never just a mother. The archetypal Mothers, a nebulous group stemming from and formed by Siva's Shakthi, appear briefly and attempt to devour the earth. No Deity, on the other hand, literally gives birth or manifests maternal or loving qualities. The Goddess is described as the root of the universe with the same epithets as the gods Vishnu and Siva. In this way, the holy Goddess takes life again and again to preserve life, even though she is immortal. Both in a spiritual, mythical and metaphorical context, the price of life and existence is exacted as a sacrifice at the altars of the Goddess.

She is the one who deludes the world; she is the one who gives birth to it; she is the one who grants wisdom when prayed to and wealth when pleased. This 222nd incarnate Goddess from the bosom of Brahma, the creator is Mahakali. The Goddess yet pervaded the whole Brahma Egg, the lord of men within her own cosmic womb. She assumes the form of Mahamari, the world's great destructress, during the terrible period of dissolution or rapture. She is also its unborn source; eternal, she is the lifeblood of all living things, pervading through all manifestation. This vocabulary shows a monistic interpretation of the origins of the universe, but it is not unique to the Goddess. It contains what tends to be generalized conception formulae that can be attributed to any originating god, male or female, without distinction.

The only exceptions are the epithets Ambika, "Mother," and Mahamaya, "Great Illusion," which only the Goddess carries, meaning that hers is the force that comes from casting a magic spell, the insubstantial but tangible dream that is the earth, rather than biological motherhood. Each of the three main male deities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, has a faithful and dedicated partner or Shakthi to accompany and empower him. Sarasvati, Brahma's wife, is rarely mentioned, but only in passing. She doesn't get her own story as a Goddess. The Sarasvati, on the other hand, is often eulogized in glowing words as the famed holy river that rises from the Himalaya mountains and flows underground at Kurukshetra.

In the Puranas, all rivers are female, and each one is holy and pure, bestowing blessings and benefits on those who bathe in them. They are the locations of hermitages and sacred fords, where devout devotees of all gods are urged to worship. In fact, the Puranas devote a significant portion of their content to praising these hermitages and shrines, which are almost always situated on or near a riverbank. Many feminine rivers, especially the Ganges and the Yamuna, are honored in this way, as are many pilgrimage places, the most notable of which are Prayaga and Varanasi, modern Banaras. More than mere names, all of these rivers carry in essence the spiritual intelligence, vitality and mythical attributes associated with the incarnate and manifest Goddesses they represent on Earth.

The rivers, on the other hand, are scarcely granted complete identities, and Sarasvati, as Brahma's official queen, is practically characterless. The petulant Yamuna, whom Balarama drags about with his plough, causing her to swamp the Kurukshetra plain because she failed to appeal to his drunken whim and present herself by his side so he could bathe, is one lovely exception.

Lakshmi or Sri, the Goddess of Wealth, is Vishnu's devoted queen. It's been said that she who blesses people with wealth can sometimes curse them with a lack of it. Yet, for the most part, Lakshmi continues at Vishnu's side as a lordly adornment. She, too, lacks a distinct personality.

She is not involved in the tale of the Churning of the Ocean, which prominently features her birth. She jumps from the ocean's foam onto Vishnu's chest, where she belongs, and she remains there. Only Parvati, Siva's wife, has a distinct appearance, a unique family history, and a collection of fascinating stories. She is known by many names, including Uma, which means "mother," Gauri, which means "white," and Sati, which means "virtuous."

She renounces the universe to perform tapas with Siva, which is an unheard-of endeavor for a child. By this way, she can obtain control over the god, and they are properly married. When her father insults her divine husband in a former life, she is so angered that she immolates herself in flames, thereby becoming the original divine Sati, or supremely virtuous virgin.

She engages in several deceptions to seduce her unwilling, meditating husband elsewhere, desiring children; the most tragic of these attempts ends in the disembodiment of Kama, god of love or Cupid, who is burnt to ashes by Siva's wrath. Parvati is a dedicated character in both stories: she wants to be the ideal wife and have children. As Sati, she is the daughter of Daksha, the primal progenitor and one of Brahma's wise sons. She is the daughter of the Himalaya mountain, the "little mountain maiden," and is known as Parvati.

This mountain heritage is shared by both the Goddess and her husband, Siva, whose holy abode is Mt. Kailasa and who wanders the mountain fastnesses without a family or clan as an ascetic mendicant. Sarasvati, Lakshmi, and Parvati are all faithful and obedient wives, whether they are vestigial or entirely engaged.

Their task is to help their best half, just as Sita in the epic Ramayana is associated with Lakshmi as Rama is with Vishnu; in any case, the deity, their companion, comes first in importance. The object of Parvati's challenging task, even for the brave Parvati, appears to be to convince the ascetic god to end the austerities that deprive the earth of fertility and marry and have progeny himself.

The majority of Siva and Parvati's stories are amusing because they imitate everyday domestic life that most Earthly societies can readily relate to. There is, though, very little romantic imagery; they are a respectable married couple. The suggested union in Parvati's efforts to seduce her husband is made clearer elsewhere in the Puranas, where god and Goddess are regarded as lovers who place a high sacred value on either physical union, or the imagery associated with it. However, instead of becoming a wife, the Goddess more notably takes on the part of a divine lover. Siva and Shakti are consorts, but Shakti manifests herself in more ways than one, perhaps even before their sojourn in union began.

~ Kiran Atma