In the Hindu pantheon, Saraswati (or Sarasvati), referred to as the Mother, is the goddess of knowledge and wisdom; of learning; of words and expression. Only her blessings can give one the gift of language and knowledge. She is a peaceful aspect of Adya Shakti, the Primal Mother, the Ancient Creatress. In her currently worshipped form, Saraswati holds the symbols of learning in her hands (including a musical instrument, Veena, and the Vedas), wears white and rides a white swan. She is also often depicted with a peacock.
Modern popular depiction of Ma Sarawati
In the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, she is a celestial river – one of the seven sister rivers (sapta-sindhu). She is ‘horrendous in her vehemence … her impact knows no end, roaring, she moves on … [the] daughter of lightning, the voice of thunder …she… rules over all intuition.’
‘Sarasvati, a flowing onrush of creative power, is a form of the great goddess. She pours out from the source, full-fledged. She is the ineluctable impetus of creative intuition, awesome voice of thunder, the voice of Heaven. She is all movement, the vehement river of creative thought.’
Her slightly different manifestation is the Vedic goddess Vak or Vac (literally, word or speech). In Sanskrit, Vak literally means ‘speech.’ Called the ‘Mother of the Vedas (the most ancient Hindu scriptures),’ Vak is also described as fierce and commanding; she strides and carries with her the other gods; wind is her breath. And most surprisingly she is described as the mother of her own father.
‘…she is the Great Goddess, exceeding axis of the cosmos, creator of the Father in Heaven, her own father, up on high. … “The heavenly oceans flowed from her and then the Word, the Aksara, the creative syllable”’
Artist: Freydoon Rassouli*
In the Rig Veda, Vak declares –
‘I am the sovereign power (over all the worlds … and the first among those to whom sacrificial homage is to be offered; the gods in all places worship but me, who am diverse and permeate everything. … I pervade heaven and earth. I give birth to the infinite expanse overspreading the earth.’ 
She is celebrated and worshipped all over modern India in homes, schools, colleges and universities. Saraswati’s blessings is still sought after by every seeker of knowledge and wisdom.
Stella Kramrisch, ‘The Indian Great Goddess’ (1975) 14 History of Religions,
pages 235, 246
same as above, page 247
Kartikeya C Patel, ‘Women, Earth and the Goddess: A Shakta-Hindu interpretation of Embodied Religion’ (1994) 9 Hypatia,
pages 69, 75
* Title of featured artwork: ‘The Commander’ by Freydoon Rassouli. For more paintings by Rassouli, visit www.rassouli.com