Today is Vasant Panchami, one of the festivals dedicated to Maa Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, wisdom, education and creativity. So I bring to you tales and legends from our epics and all you want to know about Maa Saraswati.
THE ORIGIN STORY
The story of Saraswati is an extremely important one in Indian mythology because without her it’s said that life wouldn’t exist in the organized way it’s present today. Imagine having a blank canvas and all the colours but not knowing what to paint. That is the exact thing that happened with Brahma, he had created the matter that made the universe but didn’t know what to do with it. To remedy the situation, Brahma created Saraswati (who was born from his mouth) as the incarnation of knowledge. Saraswati helped Brahma add order to the world. In other words, she painted the canvas, which ultimately led to the creation of the moon, the stars, and even the sun.
Vasant Panchmi is a very significant festival of India, it is celebrated every year on the 5th day of Magh which is also the first day of spring according to the Hindu calendar. On this Day people preach to Goddess Saraswati the virtue of wisdom, compassion and knowledge. People do charity and feed the brahmans, Significance of wearing yellow coloured clothes indicate the ripening of crops. This festival is the starting of the spring season and it is celebrated by applying gulals and decorating houses with rangoli
According to a legend, by the grace of Goddess Saraswati in Dwapara Yuga, Shri Krishna attained knowledge of all the 64 disciplines in just 64 days. Pleased with this, he expressed a desire to give a boon to Goddess Saraswati Lord Krishna blessed Goddess Saraswati, that on the event of Vasant Panchmi she will be preached, so after lord Ganesha, Sun, Vishnu And Shiva, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped
Another popular belief says that the origin of this festival is in the Aryan period, Aryans came and settled in India from Khyber Pass crossing the Saraswati River, as this river was the main source of their living hence they started preaching it as the Goddess of knowledge.
In the Ramayana, when Ravana takes kidnapping Sita Mata to Lanka, Sri Rama and Lakshmana start searching for Mother Sita. During their search, they reach a place called Dandakaranya, where they meet with Shabri. Shabri is filled with great joy at the arrival of Lord Rama and she gave him own's tasted sweet jujube. It is said that Shri Ram met Shabri on the day of Vasant Panchami. Even today people worship one rock. It is believed that this is the place where Shri Ram was sitting.
People consider Basant Panchami as an auspicious day to begin good work. In India, the festival is celebrated mostly in the northern states of Punjab and Bihar, where people celebrate it as a festival of kites. In Rajasthan, people wear jasmine garlands on the day of the festival. Although there is no special time to perform Saraswati Puja on Basant Panchami day, most of the people perform Saraswati Puja during Purvahna Kala - the time between sunrise and midday. The colour yellow has a great significance in the celebration of Vasant Panchami as it marks the harvest time of the mustard crop that has yellow blooms, which is Goddess Saraswati’s favourite colour. Yellow attire is therefore worn by the followers of Saraswati. Moreover, a traditional feast is prepared for the festival wherein the dishes are usually yellow and saffron in colour.
LEGENDS RELATED TO MAA SARASWATI:
According to Matsya Purana, Goddess Saraswati evolved from the mouth of Brahma and due to her extreme power and knowledge, she fled in every direction as she saw Brahma eyes are lustfully stagnant on her, Scared of which she took the shelter of lord shiva and hence Brahma’s 5th head beheaded which he had made to be able to see her in all the direction and also as it was his ego.
According to another legend, a very proud princess got married to Kalidas due to the conspiracy of Brahmans, as they wanted to teach her a lesson, so they searched Kalidas as a most foolish person as he was cutting the same branch of the tree where he was sitting, hence they took him in front of her and presented him as a very intelligent person but on the very first night, she realized that she has been duped and hence she ousted Kalidas, but Goddess Saraswati blessed him after seeing his sorrow and him about to end his life and after that, he became a renowned poet.
It is said that Kumbhakarna did severe penance in Govarn for ten thousand years to get the boon. When Brahma got ready to give the boon, the gods requested that even though you are giving it the boon, it is of devilish instinct and he can misuse his knowledge and power at any time. Then Brahma remembered Saraswati When he appeared before them, Kumbhakarna wanted to ask for the boon of ‘Nirdevatvam’ or the ‘absence of all gods’. But Saraswati, at the behest of the gods, sat on Kumbhakarna’s tongue and he asked for ‘nidravatvam’ or ‘sleep’ instead. Brahma granted the boon that Kumbhakarna would sleep for six months and remain awake for the next six months.
Once Lordess Saraswati arrived late at the vital Yajna that was being performed by Her consort- Brahma. The yajna had a ritual that couldn’t be performed without in the absence of a wife. By the time, She arrived, Saraswati got to know that Brahma had already married Gayatri to complete the ritual. She got angry and cursed Brahma before stomping off. Lordess Saraswati was quite angry after the above incident and cursed Lord Brahma. She said ‘ You have filled the world with longing and bowed the seed of unhappiness. You have fettered a pious soul in flesh. May there hardly be any temple or any festival of yours.” So, due to this curse, there are only two popular temples of Lord Brahma, one in Pushkar, Rajasthan, and the other one in Tamil Nadu.
Originally, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Ganga were the wives of Shri Hari in Vaikuntha. Saraswati felt that Shri Hari was getting fonder of Ganga and complained to Lakshmi but Lakshmi was neutral. Saraswati was irritated and cursed Lakshmi to become a tree as she was insensitive. Ganga felt bad that Saraswati was unnecessarily interfering and cursed Saraswati; this led Saraswati to curse Ganga. Reacting to these curses, Shri Hari gave dispensations as follows: Lakshmi would be born as a tree in the house of King Dharmadhwaja and become the wife of Asura Shankhachuda, a Vishnu devotee and later on, turn out to be Shri Hari’s dear wife and live forever as Tulasi and also as a River named Padmavati in BharataVarsha; Devi Ganga due to Saraswati’s curse would become a Holy River to demolish the sins of those who take baths on her waters and eventually flow down in Bharata Varsha due to the persistent efforts of Bhagirath and be called as Bhagirathi and be the wife of Samudra who was also of Shri Hari’s ‘Amsha’ and at the same time be at the ‘Shiva Sthaan’; and Saraswati as a result of Ganga’s curse would become the wife of Brahma; finally Lakshmi who was of Satwa Tatwa without any anger or jealousy and would be Shri Hari’s own wife eventually.