Living in a country where, according to some sources, 40% of college graduates never read a single book after leaving school (jenkinsgroupinc.com)—and, not coincidentally, where 50% of the population doesn’t “believe” in evolution—how wonderful it is to read of cultures where knowledge is a goddess.
The Hindu goddess Saraswati is the embodiment of learning and wisdom, of artistic achievement and books. In the beginning, Hindu mythology tells us, there was only chaos. When the great god Brahma wondered aloud how he would bring order to the universe, Saraswati emerged from his mouth. It was she who taught Brahma to think and comprehend. To communicate and create art. To look at the chaos and see potential.
Saraswati is the third of three goddesses I’ve as been exploring as archetypes that shape the writing life. The first was Guanyin, the Chinese Goddess of Compassion; the second Oshun, the Afro-Caribbean embodiment of fertility, energy, and creation. But while Guanyin is overflowing with beauty, grace, and love, and Oshun is all about dancing, drumming, and vibrant sensuality, there is something pure, simple, and quiet about lovely Saraswati.
While other goddesses are bedecked in bright colors and elaborate ornaments, Saraswati wears a simple, pure-white sari to show her preference for knowledge over material goods. She has four arms, each one representing an aspect of mind or intellect, and she holds four items. A musical instrument to show her love of the arts. A pot of sacred water representing creativity and purification. A rosary of crystals to reflect the power of meditation and spirituality. And, of course, a book.
Every February, Hindus all over the world worship Saraswati. Educational institutions hold special events. Temples fill with her worshippers. Children are taught to write their first words. And people honor books.
Imagine: a place where books are honored. Where I live, they are scarcely even read.
Causes Jill Jepson Supports
Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Interational Society for the Protection of Burros and Mustangs, National Wildlife Federation,...