AJOY PAL’S STUDIO, RANCHI, JHARKHAND, INDIA.
The Vedic Goddess of Wisdom.
Moulded out of a mixture of rich earth procured from the banks of the ganges and endowed with unmistakable feminine grace, an unfinished sculpture of Saraswati – the Hindu goddess of learning, creative arts, and science – awaits a final touch of adornment inside the make-shift studio of Ajoy Pal, in Ranchi, Jharkhand, India, a few days prior to her worship in the Bengali festival of Saraswati Puja.
Since her evolution from the namesake Saraswati river on the banks of which the early Aryan forefathers begun to form the ancient Vedas, now thought by historians to be the Ghaggar-Hakra, the beautiful and fair complexioned goddess (an allusion to the clear waters of the river), has been represented as a gentle yet strong willed and independent woman unafraid to hold her own in a male dominated society, despite attempts of later writers to mellow her character and bring her closer to a picture of the ideal woman of their times – an observation that can be made by studying the scriptures at various stages of their development.
In lore, the goddess has traditionally been venerated as the mother of the Vedas and the muse, consort, energy of the creator god Brahma – with whose help he created the universe. Once invoked chiefly by the learned priestly class and young initiates of the order, Saraswati in recent times is worshiped by nearly all sects and ethnic groups in the Hindu world.
During festivals dedicated to her such as the Bengali Saraswati Puja, children not yet in schools begin their education by trying their hand at writing alphabets or reading. Her name literally means one who leads towards enlightenment.
The Saraswati Vandana, (audio below) is a special invocation chant dedicated to the goddess. It is chanted or sung by both children and adults. The version can be found on the internet.