Dancing Goddess Saraswati South Indian Temple Carving - 36" H x 14" W X 3.7" D

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She focuses her calm, dispassionate gaze upon the past as pure experience. The capacity to recall without anger or resentment is Saraswati's greatest gift to her children: the writers, musicians, and creators of various art forms. All of them have fought with tradition, but their fight has been cerebral, not emotional. For without cutting away the umbilical cord, no innovative new beginning may ever be made, whether one is creating or procreating. This is the message of Saraswati.

Saraswati is extremely beautiful, fair complexioned, with four arms, ever youthful and gracious looking. She is seated on a lotus and holds a lute (Veena) in two of her hands. In her other hands, she holds a rosary and a book. The book associates her with the sciences and with learning in general. The lute associates her with the arts, particularly the musical arts, and the rosary associates her with the spiritual sciences and with religious rites. Like Lakshmi and unlike Durga and Kali, she does not carry any arms or weapons.

Legends say that she sprung from the forehead of her father, Brahma, as did the Greek virgin goddess Athena who was born from her father, Zeus's head. As soon as Brahma looked at this beautiful woman, he desired her, even though she was his daughter. Saraswati disliked the amorous attentions of this old god and kept dodging him, but whichever way she moved, Brahma grew a head in that direction to see her the better. As a result, he grew four faces on four sides of his neck, and even a head on top of these four, so that she could not escape by moving upwards. But Saraswati still eluded him.

Brahma was angry. He, being the Creator, was also all powerful. We do not know how, but legend has it that he did manage to marry the elusive girl, and produced through her mind the four great Vedas. Lore also has it that Brahma discovered that his girl-wife was too aloof and absent-minded for his liking. He had arranged for a major fire-sacrifice, at which his wife's appearance by his side was a must. He repeatedly warned Saraswati not to take too long over her toilet and miss the auspicious hour. She must, he had decreed, take her traditional seat to his left, well in time. But Saraswati behaved with her characteristic whimsical disregard for parental diktats. Her prolonged toilet saw to it that the holy hour passed without the couple's making the supreme joint offering to the fire God as man and wife. When Saraswati finally arrived, Brahma was livid. He threw her out, and replaced her with the daughter of a sage, called Gayatri.

Saraswati, thus, though married, never enjoyed domestic bliss like Durga or Lakshmi. According to most myths, she had no children, possessed a fiery temper, was easily provoked and was somewhat quarrelsome. She, of all the goddesses, is described as possessing a very independent will and was not very obliging to the male gods.

As the disinherited daughter and estranged wife, Saraswati lived perpetually in self-imposed exile. She focuses her calm, dispassionate gaze upon the past as pure experience. The capacity to recall without anger or resentment, is Saraswati's greatest gift to her children: the writers, musicians and creators of various art forms. All of them have fought with tradition, but their fight has been cerebral, not emotional. For without cutting away the umbilical cord, no innovative new beginning may ever be made, whether one is creating or procreating. This is the message of Saraswati.

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