Confusion about the cosmic reality Concept of ‘Saraswati’
‘History was created’ in the recent times about Saraswati.
The conflicting notions about the concept of " Saraswati" held by the modern thinkers essentially came to the surface. .
In 1996 the world renowned modern artist Makbul Fida Husain created a painting of Saraswati, which appeared as a Semi Nude ‘look alike of Madhuri Dixit’, a famous Cine Artist
This provoked. Strong reactions and protests from -- Bajaranga Dal -- a Hindu militant organization.
The conflict is amongst the various concepts of Saraswati at different levels of consciousness as follows: --
1. Spiritual power in the unmanifest world of inspiration, intuition, intelligence, as found in RigVeda Richa, the oldest Aryan Scripture taken as first literature, 2. Religious symbol of a traditional picture, worshiped as a Godess of learning 3. A River in North India, where a rich Aryan/Hindu civilization flourished and perished along with the River due to a 13 year drought, 4. An object of painting for a curious modern artist, which provoked Hindu religious sentiments.
In order to give a broad understanding of the various conceptions held about Saraswati, I would like to highlight the specific significance of each item above
1. A: The words and several concepts of Saraswati appear in the ancient Scriptures of Vedas and Upanishads etc. This period can be estimated and placed historically about 10,000 years back. . Rishi Madhuchandas describes the spiritual powers of Saraswati in Mandal 1.3.10-12 of the RigVeda, in such forceful words and concepts, that it leaves no doubt, whatsoever, that the Saraswati of his perception cannot possibly be a mere physical River or a ‘Nadi’. Mahayogi Aurobindo of Pondicherry followed the line (Swami Dayananda, who struggled for restoration of spiritual understanding of the Vedas) of insights and perceptions. His book 'Secrets in Vedas'(*1*) and 'Hymns to Agni' (*2*) and other comments quite uniquely and laboriously offer the logic and perceptions behind such discovery. It would not be possible in this small essay to take each Richa piece by piece from the Saraswati Sukta from Rig Veda and explain the spiritual content. But, to illustrate the point a couple of Richas could be taken.
“Pavaka nah Sarasvati vajebhirvajineevati, Yajnyam vashtu Dhiyavasuh:-1.3.10
Chodayitri Sunrutanam Chetanti Sumatinam, Yajnyam dadhe Sarasvati: 1.3.11
[Dr. Siddheshwar Shastri Chitrav (*has translated in Marathi, which broadly means thus,
• Saraswati the Godess, who provokes, divinizes, enriches, potential stock of works, may through ‘Anna’ Carry our Yajna to the Gods. • Let this Saraswati, who inspires Satya knowledge, sharpens and shines the intellect, be present be stationed and be involved in our Yajna. If Yajna is understood to be a process of spiritual transformation taking place in the consciousness of the individual, then it makes sense, that the spiritual force of Saraswati should be involved in such a Yajna. In this understanding, it is obvious, that the word Saraswati has to have a meaning larger and portentous than a mere material River.]
Saraswati is described as a Devata of Shabda i.e. spiritual word, and Inspiration. It enables one to achieve inspiration flowing from Satya Chetana i.e. True Life Energy. It supports the Yajna process. It enlightens the thoughts. It brings forth the Satya enjoined with Ananda and a happy mind. It enables the interpretation of Shruti i.e. the Truth of the words.
Now all the rest of the 3concepts mentioned above, betray ignorance of the spiritual reality of Saraswati.
Worship is a simplistic effort on the part of a disciple to reach a realization of the cosmic spiritual power from rising from the Idol i.e. manifest, that the Wyakta symbol to unmanifest reality in the Awyakta world. This requires implicit faith and it is offended by a distorted provocation. 3. A:
Dr. Kalyanraman , who had undertaken a Saraswati project to establish a factual reality of Saraswati as a river supporting a civilization on its banks; had observed,” I have long drawn on the research of many scholars, who have studied the civilization from many disciplines and many perspectives, archaeological, artistic, linguistic, ethnographic, geological, hydrological and historical …..”
Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, former minister of Education in the NDA, while answering the charge of Safronisation in education observed, " … the (erstwhile) government was influenced by the Marxist perception on education, which was unjust at it completely ignored India’s Vedic past, especially after the existence of the mythical Saraswati and the presence of civilization along its banks had been established"(Times of India 18/6/2004)
The range of observations by the leading modern artists on the issue of freedom of expression, also betrays absolute lack of understanding of the symbolism used by the Vedic Rishis in explaining the realization of the spiritual concept in Saraswati and its reflection of powers portrayed in the picture as faithfully as possible and to their limitations of capacity by the human artists right from the Puranic times and lately by Raja Ravi Verma.
What are the present range of observations?
Meher Pestonji-Art attack is a growing disease. Anil Dharkar-Islam prohibits the pictorial depiction of Muhammad. Hindus have glorified the human body and its physical senses. We even worship the Yoni etc. we have nude sculptures in Hindu Temples. Laxman Shreshta-artistes came to look at Mythology in the visual sense Inder Sharma-the modern artist do not visualize the pictures. They first paint something and later try to give it a name. Nimisha-I felt ashamed after seeing the picture of Saraswati by M.F.Hussein. Certainly, an artist has freedom of expression. But, this freedom comes with a responsibility. Vrinda Nabar-Head of the Department of English in the Mumbai University. We have moved away in the values, which those temples represent. It would be dishonest to use them to bolster an argument about Hussein's painting, which is a product, where existence is conditioned by today's norms of a market driven economy you cannot just pick and choose an argument whenever it suits you. Secondly, Hussein is painting for money. The paintings bottom line is commercial value, which is not true of the Khajuraho or Ajantha. I consider that to compare them is a shortsighted and blinkered defense.
1.The Religious aspect indicates the practice of a beginner, who is attempting to rise to a fullest realisation of Spiritual Power Concept through a ladder approach. Idol helps building an inner faith by a gradual translation in the psychic to a spiritual level. A traditional device of prayer and sadhana to climb “From manifest to Unmanifest.” Understanding and realisation.
2.‘River’ is a partial manifest physical earthly reflection of the universal cosmic concept of Saraswati, indicating a stream of energy supporting life on the banks, by providing water (“Jala Tatwa”) and transferring subtle “Anna for Yajnya of Consciousness” containing Pranic energy to a Spiritual aspirant.
3.Painting or picture is a difficult attempt of translation and representation of a cosmic entity.
But, the present criticisms fall broadly into certain categories such as the freedom of expression of the artist, conflicting faiths in the warring religions, symbolism of sculptures to the unmanifest entities, influence of market economy on values etc.
It is obvious from the above criticisms that no one has really understood the reality, i.e. the integral spiritual concept of "Saraswati", which is a Pranic spiritual energy influencing the cognitive abilities of the ‘human body form’ – ‘Embodied Consciousness.’ By yogic practices this power can be invoked to enhance the existing cognitive abilities of the human being, undergoing a phase of mortal body existence on the Earth on its cosmic journey of cyclic births and rebirths. This is a Hindu beliefs System based on Vedic knowledge.
(Yeshwant Sane) 4-11-2009,Sonal Apartment,Agiary lane,Thane,India-400601 [For a detailed discussion please see my old paper on the subject]