Shakti is pure universal creative energy. In the Yogic tradition, the female deities are Shakti’s expressions. Saraswati is the goddess who organizes Shakti and allows Her to be creatively expressed and manifested.
Saraswati and Brahma: a creation story.
Shakti overwhelmed Brahma when he decided to create the world. In the midst of space and timelessness, the possibilities for divine expression were endless. There was so much potential!
Brahma was so overcome with dreams and ideas about how he might creatively express, he felt as if he was slipping into madness. He could not sleep. He couldn’t eat. And no matter how hard he tried to create what was in his mind to bring forth, he couldn’t seem to find the right words, images, and textures to manifest his ideas.
Vishnu, the Sustainer, and Shiva, the Destroyer, were concerned. First of all, they had nothing to sustain or destroy. Vishnu took a lot of naps and Shiva was getting mischievous. Secondly, their friend’s health was declining. They suggested he take a nice, long walk and then bathe in the healing waters of the Saraswati River.
Reluctantly, Brahma agreed to take a time-out for some self-care. He went for a walk by the river, as his friends had suggested. Not only was the Saraswati River the loveliest river, but it also happened to be the only river at the time. After all, Brahma had not created other rivers yet. This was a very special river because it was a manifestation of the goddess Saraswati Herself!
Brahma felt better after his walk, but his mind still felt cluttered and unfocused. He sat down by the Saraswati river. The walk helped, but he still felt at a loss of what to do with Shakti’s energetic surge. He prayed to the goddess for help.
“Mahavidya,” he humbly began. “I know I am meant to bring forth from your essence something great. Something that has never before been experienced. I don’t know what it will look like, sound like, smell like, taste like, or even feel like.”
The river was still. Brahma continued. “Goddess, I surrender this to You. Whatever expression it takes is in Your hands. In whatever way it manifests, may it be according to Your wisdom. I am simply hear to create to the best of my ability and bring forth what is in Your mighty heart.”
With that, Brahma was inspired! Shakti’s raw energy began to take shape in his mind. Wisdom, insight, and clarity of creative expression came when Brahma released his attachment to the outcome of his work and offered it to be in service to something greater than even himself.
Uncovering our greatness through selfless sharing.
Each of us has unique gifts and talents to offer the world. Things become complicated when we become attached to the outcome of using our gifts. Our fear and anxiety about sharing ourselves with others present themselves in many ways. We may be concerned that we will not be rewarded with prestige, influence, or financial gain. Perhaps we worry about what other people will think of us. We make ourselves small because we don’t want to be though of as proud or grandiose.
There is a wonderful quote from Marianne Williamson that speaks to the problem of diminishing ourselves. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”
When we share ourselves with the world without attaching ourselves to what we think we will get from doing so, we don’t have to carry the weight of insecurity, self-centeredness, and people-pleasing behaviors. Instead, we step into our power and embrace our greatness!
Saraswati is that moment when we find just the right word to express the message we are trying to convey. She’s the snap-shot taken at just the right moment. She is hitting the high note, becoming the character in a play, and pruning the garden in such a way that it reflects Her own beauty.
Love wants to manifest itself through us! Our gifts and talents are meant to be shared with others. We limit ourselves when we put undue focus on what we think the end results of our actions should be. Liberation occurs when we share of ourselves with others simply for the sake of doing so.
Practices for connecting with Saraswati
Saraswati is the goddess of learning. We are never too old or too young to learn! What skills would you like to brush up on? Is there something you have always wanted to study but never made the time? These days, you don’t have to be in a formal learning institution to study. Perhaps now is the time to delve into a book on a topic that interests you, take a free online university course for non-degree seeking students, or even pursue a professional certification such as Eternal Health Yoga’s teacher training program.
Creativity is also under Saraswati’s domain. Many people have it in their hearts to draw, paint, sew, or attempt any other creative endeavor. However, they get caught-up in the idea that they have to produce something valuable or successful. Humans are innately creative beings. It is our birthright to create! What other people think of our creations is none of our business.
We can nourish our connection to Saraswati through the Pranayama practice of so-hum breathing. Saraswati’s mount is a swan. In Sanskrit the word for swan is hamsa. When we breathe in, we mentally repeat the syllable “so”. Breathing out we mentally repeat the syllable “hum”. As we focus on the breath, so-hum, so-hum, so-hum eventually becomes ham-sa, ham-sa, ham-sa. Thus, when we practice this Pranayama mediation, the goddess Saraswati is quite literally on our breath.
Finally, Saraswati is the goddess of wisdom. Like Brahma, we most deeply connect to Saraswati when we surrender ourselves to Her as we are. She works through us when we get still, quiet, and set our ego to the side. We can’t think our way into wisdom. Rather, we feel our way into it when we tune-out to all the conflicting voices in our heads, and tune-in to Her abiding voice within.