Saraswatī (सरस्वती)

The Hindu goddess of the arts, speech, music, literature, and almost everything that is awesome Saraswati Saraswatī सरस्वती; a river of knowledge, captivating beyond measure, and a balm for those in need of inspiration everywhere. These illustrations and articles are a humble offering to this mysteriously ageless goddess.

Dedicated to Saraswatī

Below, Saraswatī is shown with her associated symbols: auṁ (ॐ) for speech and the written word, the vīna (वीणा, lute), the mālā (माला, rosary), the lotus, the peacock, and the swan.

Dedicated to Saraswatī

Some of these symbols appear in her vandanā (वन्दना, song of devotion). And each symbol has its own story. Ooh…

Another popular way to adore this goddess is through aiṁ (ऐँ), the bīja (बीज, seed) mantra, which is a Devanāgarī (देवनागरी) character, that specifically represents Saraswati Saraswatī सरस्वती. Hence, Saraswati Saraswatī सरस्वती equals aiṁ (ऐँ). If this gets confusing, just think of auṁ (ॐ), another bija mantra.

Dedicated to Saraswatī

A Song of Devotion, for Beautiful Saraswati Saraswatī सरस्वती

सरस्वती वन्दना

या कुन्देन्दुतुषारहारधवला या शुभ्रवस्त्रावृता
या वीणावरदण्डमण्डितकरा या श्वेतपद्मासना।
या ब्रह्माच्युत शंकरप्रभृतिभिर्देवैःसदावन्दिता
सा मां पातु सरस्वती भगवती निःशेषजाड्यापहा

Who is dazzling as a garland of jasmine, white as snow, beautiful without adornmentWho evokes a golden melody, borne by a pure and bright lotus flower.  Whom all divine beings adore.  Please Flowing One, illumine my darkness.

~ A song of devotion to Saraswati Saraswatī सरस्वती (author’s translation)

Below is a transliteration of the song, a non-literal translation, and a blow-by-blow, word-by-word translation. As my Sanskrit improves, I’d also like to provide grammar and syntactical notes… as my Sanskrit improves… Thanks to Saraswati Saraswatī सरस्वती!!!

The transcription, transliteration, and translation of the Saraswati Saraswatī सरस्वती vandana

या कुन्देन्दुतुषारहारधवला या शुभ्रवस्त्रावृता

yā kundendutuṣārahāradhavalā yā śubhravastrāvṛtā
Who is dazzling as a garland of jasmine, white as snow, beautiful without adornment

या वीणावरदण्डमण्डितकरा या श्वेतपद्मासना।

yā vīnāvaradaṇḍamaṇḍitakarā yā ṣvetapadmāsanā
Who evokes a golden melody, borne on a pure and bright lotus flower

या ब्रह्माच्युत शंकरप्रभृतिभिर्देवैःसदावन्दिता

yā brahmācyuta śaṁkaraprabhṛtibhiṛdevaiḥ sadā vanditā
Whom all divine beings adore

सा मां पातु सरस्वती भगवती निःशेषजाड्यापहा

sā māṁ pātu sarasvatī bhagavatī niḥśeṣajāḍyāpahā
Please Flowing One, illumine my darkness

Word by word…

या who
कुन्देन्दु kundendu Star jasmine, Downy jasmine, Jasminum multiflorum
तुषार tuṣara ice, snow, dew, spray, camphor
हार hāra garland of pearls, necklace, charming
धवला dhavalā white, beautiful, dazzling white
या who
शुभ्र śubhra bright, white, splendid, radiant
वस्त्रा vastrā dressed, rainment, dress, clothes, robe
वृता vṛtā modestly, concealed, hidden
या who
वीणा vīnā vina, ancient string instrument
वर vara excellent, boon, best, precious
दण्ड daṇḍa sceptre, rod, stick, fine
मण्डित maṇḍita adorned, ornamented, decorated
करा karā Hard, firm, stiff, part of an instrument below the neck
या who
श्वेत ṣveta white, dressed in white, bright, white cloud
पद्म padma lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, lotus-hued
अासना āsanā seat, abiding, stay
या who
ब्रह्म brahma Brahma, sacred wisdom, from the Vedas
अच्युत acyuta Vishnu, imperishable, permanent
शंकर śaṁkara Shiva, beneficent, cause of prosperity, auspicious
प्रभृति prabhṛti attached, offering
देव deva god, heavenly, divine
सदा sadā always, continually, ever, perpetually
वन्दिता vanditā praised, celebrated, extolled
सा with, having, accompanied by, giving, bestowing, granting
मां māṁ me
पातु pātu clever, adroit
सरस्वती sarasvatī saraswati, mythical river, speech
भगवती bhagavatī fortunate
निःशेष niḥśeṣa consumed, , without remainder
जाड्या jāḍyā sluggishness, stupidity, laziness
पहा pahā destroy, annihilate