Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

In India, the arrival of spring is celebrated in a special manner. Spring represents emergence of new life, of greenery on trees and on the ground. It is the emergence of beauty in plants and of a milder climate.

True birth

The fifth day of spring, according to the jyotish calculations, is dedicated to the Goddess Saraswati. This Goddess represents knowledge. She is not spoken about much. People speak more about Durga, Kali and Lakshmi. Saraswati represents knowledge and understanding.

Elders say, “This celebration of Mother Saraswati is for you children. So, go and celebrate it in schools. Say a prayer to Mother Saraswati, a prayer for wisdom and knowledge, and she will grant your wish.” Parents, on the other hand, pray to Lakshmi for economic gain.

Saraswati is not really somebody who has captured the imagination of the selfish nature of people, for she is pure. She belongs to the realm of sattwa. Her work, her duty, her dharma is to bestow knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

According to spiritual principles and thoughts, you can take birth in this life but it will not be called birth. It is only physical birth. However, the moment you take birth in knowledge it is defined as the real birth. After all, it is knowledge, wisdom and understanding which will lead you on the path of success and development in life. If there is no knowledge, understanding and wisdom, how will you know how to do things? The mind is not trained.

Without knowledge one does not grow in life. You can have a lot of money, yet if there is no grey matter active in the brain, what use is money? You need to activate this grey matter. You need to know, understand, realize and you need to take birth in vidya.

Vidya and samskara

There is a couplet in Sanskrit saying that when we are born, we are ignorant; and when we take birth in knowledge we are called twice-born.

Janmana jayate shudrah,
Samskarat dwija uchyate.

That knowledge gives us samskara which is the expression of life. Samskara and knowledge are interchangeable words. They are not different for knowledge is knowing and samskara is the natural, spontaneous and free flowing expression of that knowing.

If you are happy, your face will also look happy. You cannot hide the happiness from your face if the mind is jubilant. You cannot hide the frustration from your face if the mind is under pressure and tension. The subtle and the gross, they respond to each other.

In the same manner, it is the vidya which becomes the medium of expression in life, and that is known as samskara. Saraswati represents the process, experience and achievement. Saraswati is the primary power, the primary force in the universe without whose aid we cannot progress. She is the Goddess of spring, regeneration and rebirth.

Invoking her Grace

It is on this day that the Bihar School of Yoga was established, founded and inaugurated by Sri Swami Satyananda 53 years ago. Since then, every Basant Panchami is celebrated as the Foundation Day. On this day, a special invocation to the Cosmic Power Saraswati is conducted. This invocation happens with the worship of Sri Yantra. It is the most beautiful, most ancient practice of the shakta tantras to invoke the Shakti tattwa as Grace to bring knowledge, wisdom and luminosity into our life.

Basant Panchami, 12 February 2016, Ganga Darshan