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Sri:
SrImathE Ramanujaya Namah:
SrImathE NighamAnatha mahAdEsikAya Namah:



Saraswathi
(by Sri U Ve Oppiliappan Koil Varadachari Sadagopan, USA)

Introduction

In this article, the Vedic Understanding of the word Sarasvathi and make some observations on the Sacredness of BhagavAN HayagrIvan and some of the confusion related to the name being linked to an AsurA or AsurAs and the Tantric cult worship in Tibetean Buddhism , which is a second generation off shoot of Vedic theism, are covered . I will state at the outset that Budhdism and Jainism are considered as avaidhika or Veda Baahya Mathams and their glaring deficiencies have been pointed out by the three Darsanams connected with AchArya RaamAnujA , Adhi Sankara and Sri Ananda Theertha . There is no special reason hence to dwell here on the Veda Baahya mathams emphasizing the concept of Soonyam and NirIsvara Vaadham such as Buddhism . This is not for belittling Buddhism or Jainism , but to put things in perspective for our discussions on Srivaishnavam.

VedAs and Upanishads as PramANams for us always:

In our source literatures , VedAs and Vedic Literature take precedence over PurANAs and IthihAsAs .Latter two take their authoirty from the VedAs and Upanishads . Whenever in doubt , our AchAryAs have gone to the VedAs and the Upanishads for answers to our doubts . Brahma Soothra commentaries are such examples .There are at least three levels of interpretation of the Veda Manthrams : the most superficial (literal ), intermediate and esoteric. When studied in depth with the support of VedAngAs and Upanishads , one gets a better understanding of the greatness of the timeless message enshrined in our VedAs .

BhagavAn HayagrIvA & VedAs

Sri Hayagriva Upanishad is one of the 108 Upanishads , Just as NarAyaNa , Nrusimha Taapani , Raama Taapini , VaasudEva, Varaha , Gopaala Purva and Gopaala Uttara Taapini Upanishads for celebrating the glories of Sriman NaarAyaNA . Sri HayagrIva manthram is enshrined in Sri HayagrIva Upanishad. That Swami Desikan was initiated into this MahA Manthram by none other than Garuda BhagavAN at Thiruvaheendrapuram to bless our SampradhAyam with the great works that support and sustain us is enough proof.

VEDIC PRAYERS for universal concordance & cessation of strifes

It is appropriate therefore to reflect on the majestic and ennobling thoughts covered by two Saanthi Paatams of VedAs:

Veda manthram 1 :

bhadram karNObhi: sruNyAma dEvA :, bhadram pasyEma akshabhiryajathrA :
sthirai rangai: sthushtuvAsasthanUbhi: , vyasEma dEvahitham yadhAyu :

This prayer is addressed to the Vedic Gods like BrahmA and Indra and to Godesses like Sarasvathi .This prayer is for always seeing that which is Good (Auspicious ), for having a healthy physical frame to pray to the celestials and thereby leading a long and prosperous life .Actually , this prayer is to the antharyAmi Brahmam residing inside the frames of these celestials for Veda Sampath . The first word , "Bhadram " is the important word enshrined in the powerful NrusimhAnushtup manthram ; To me , this prayer is for Sri Lakshmi Nrusimhan , the AntharyAmi Brahmam of this universe and its beings.

Veda Manthram 2 :

sam nO vaatha: pavathAm matharisvA sam na sthapathu
Soorya: , ahani sam bhavanthu na: sam rAthri prathidhIyathAm

( Meaning ) : May the winds bestow on us what is good , May the rays of the Sun grant us that , which is for our good , let both the day and night grant us happiness . Here Happiness stands for the joy arising out of true knowledge about the Brahman and the destruction of ViparItha Jn~Anam . The Upanishads as part and parcel of the VedAs have similar prayers that salute the ideology of concordance among all the creations of the Lord . These prayers are not for an individual and his/her well being , but is for the welfare of the entire world . Let us therefore exchange Information in the spirit of concordance and resolve conflicts to expand our understanding of the glories of our Kula dhanams on this Rangam (Stage).

Goddess Sarasvathi as a Vedic Triumvirate for Vedic Speech

In Vedic parlance , division of doctrines , divinities into a three fold classification is very popular . ChanandhOgya Upanishad refers to this three-fold partition for those with names and forms :

taasAm thrivritham thrivritham ekaikam karavANIthi ( Ch.U: VI.3.2-3) .

This means: This aforesaid Brahman entering these deities as the individual Self , which is THE SELF, evolved the differentiation of the (various ) names and forms( naama roopa VyAkaravANithi). These three fold differentiation for Vedic Speech according to the Vedam is : IDA , Sarsvathi and Bhaarathi . Here IDA is praiseworthy speech ; Sarasvathi is the speech full of Knowledge ; Bhaarathi is the speech full of Vedic lore as understood from the following manthram of Yajur Vedam :

tisrO dEvIrbahirdhagum sadhanthviDA Sarasvathi Bhaarathi MahI gruNAnA-Yajur Vedam : (Canto 28.19)

( Meaning ) : May IDA orILA , Sarasvathi and Bhaarathi or MahI , three mighty forms of speech (eulogies ) fill this sathas ( Yaaga sAlA ). "AitrEya BrAhmANam" points out distinctly that Sarasvathi is the Divine Speech ( Ait.Br. II.24; III.1,2) . She is the Goddess of the Word in a symbolic sense . The word Sarasvathi also refers to the Supreme Brahman as well . The commentators have agreed with this intrepretation of the Lord's name as Sarasvathi on the basis of conviction that there can not be any one associated with Brahma VidyA or supreme knowledge that redeems us .It has been pointed out that " Our Lord has manifested Himself in His creation and in His word ( Vedams ) as Knowledge Personified " ( Saras: prasmasithA jn~AnaadhaayO guNA vidhyanthE yasyaam saa SARVA VIDHYAA PRAAPIKAA VAAK ).

Derivation of the Word Sarasvathi

The word takes its birth from the root "Sr" , (gathou) meaning to move or to flow. When the particle mathup is added , we get the word "Sarasvathi" . Saras also means knowledge of transcendental kind and the One in whom such knowledge is sustained is Sarasvathi .The connection to Supreme Brahman and Sarasvathi is hinted at Rg. Vedic Manthram :

SarasvathIm dEvayanthO havanthE
SarasvathIm adhvarE thAyamAnE |
SarasvathIm sukruthO ahvayantha
SarasvathI dhAsushE vaarya dhAth ||

(Meaning ) :" Men aspiring for transcendental knowledge invoke the Lord Sarasvathi ; when one aspires to undertake sacred works for the good of all (adhvaraa), they also invoke SarasvathI . This Sarasvathi blesses all of them who dedicate themselves for the noble ends. "

By the way, It is interesting to point out the SanyAsis of Adhi SankarA lineage are take on the suffix of Sarasvathi , BhArathi et al to denote their Vedic connection .

In the post-vedic period , the name Sarasvathi was given to the wife of BrahmA in PurANams and IthihAsams.

Other Vedic references to the three fold forms of speech

ILA SarasvathI MahI tisrO dEvIrmaYObhuva:
barhi:m seedhanthvasthridha: --Rg Vedam :
( I.13.9)

(Meaning ) : May the three undecaying Goddesses , givers of the delight of enlightened speech , ILA , SarasvathI and Mahi , sit down upon the sacred grass ( ThUppul ) of this "Yaj~nam".

There was a question about the multiple devis invoked in SandhyA Vandhana manthrams (i-e) , Gaayathri , Saavithri and Sarasvathi . Here is some background information on it .Veda manthrams have to be looked at many levels and planes beyond the most superficial . When we evoke Saavithri and Sarasvathi , we have to keep this in mind and not link it with smarthAs and VaishNavAs and along those channels of reasoning . I agree with a bhagavathA's observation that we are all "smaarthAs" from the point of followers of Smruthis . I will comment on " the three Devis " , who can be understood as one Devi .

GaayathrI

Gaayathri is considered as the essence of the Vedaas . Gaayathri ,the triple hymn with three times eight syllables in each of its three paadhams , is also the name for a Vedic metre .This three-paadha Gaayathri Manthram is what one uses during the worship of the sandhyAs . This manthram is also considered as the Mother of VedAs . Gaayathri is also called Saavithri (hymn to the Sun , Savithru, the seven of the DwAdasa AadithyAs ). There is also a chathur Paadha ( Four-legged ) Gaayathri Manthram with 32 syallables . It is powerful and is rarely recited , since it needs special initiation and a high degree of spiritual realization .

Gaayathri , the hymn to the Sun (Sriman NaarAyaNan in the middle of the orb of the Sun ) is revered as Gaayathri at dawn ( prAtha: SandhyA ) , Saavithri at mid-day ( maadhyAhnikam ) and Sarasvathi at Saayam SandhyA .

Gaayathri manthram is housed in Rg Veda samhithai ( Rg Veda : 3.62.10). It is recited to attain the four goals of life (PurushArthams ) through contemplation of the meanings of PraNavam and AkAra Vaachyan , Sriman NaarAyaNan and the sesha -sEshi relationship to SaraNya Dampathis .

BrahadAraNyaka Upanishad (5.14.4, 5.15 )and ChAndhOgya Upanishad (3.12-13) salute Gaayathri as the protector of Vital Energies . ChAndhOyga passages elaborate on Gaayathri Brahma VidhyA and its relation to Moksha Saadhanam by contemplating Brahman as made up of the 24 syallables ( 6 times 4 ).The six refers to the 6 of " the guNAs of Brahman " for meditation and the four refer to the four paadhams (quarters or feet ).This upanishidhic passage connects Gayathri's one paadham to be in prithvI (on Earth ) and the the remianing in Sri Vaikuntam as referred to in Purusha Sooktham. The attributes of the other three paadhams are elaborated in this section of ChAndhOgya Upanishad .

Sarasvathi

DevarAja Yasvan, the noted commentator of YaskA's Niruktham has derived the word Sarasvathi as "Sara: PrasaraNamasyAsthIthi " or One whose expanse is this entire creation or One in whom such knowledge is sustained .It refers thus again to Vedic Speech .

In Gaayathri manthram , the last section prays: " dhiyO ---prachOdhayAth ". We can see the echo of the above two words in two Rg veda manthrams (I.3.11 & 12 ):

chOdhayathri sUnruthAnAm chEthanthi sumathInAm
yaj~nam dhadhE Sarasvathi

(meaning ): Sarasvathi , who inspires those delighting in truth ,(who is) the AchAryan of the right-minded , has graciously accepted our Yaj~nam ( Havis/offering ).

mahO arNa: Sarasvathi prachEthayathi kEthunA dhiyO visvA virAjathi

(Meaning ): Sarasvathi manifests by Her acts as a mighty river and (in Her own form ) enlightens all understandings (provides illuminating meanings ).

Saavithri

Her name translates in to " belonging to the Sun ". his Sun or Aadithyan is SavithA , the 7th among he DwAdasa AadhityAs . If Gayathri is "triple hymn " , Saavithri is the "solar hymn ".These hymns to the Sun is as mentioned before are visualized as Gaayathri at dawn , Saavithri at midday and Sarasvathi at saayam sandhyA .