In the Indian mythology, there is the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. The three together become God – Brahma is generation, creation; Vishnu is organization, maintenance; and Siva is destruction and transformation. So the trinity of generation, organization and destruction becomes the G O D, God. People are more attracted to Narayana and Lakshmi, and to Siva and Shakti and few people remember and recognize Brahma and Saraswati. There are temples of Narayana and Lakshmi in the thousands across the world, and temples of Siva and Shakti in the thousands across the world. There is only one active temple of Brahma and hardly any of Saraswati, except where she is placed along with Lakshmi and Parvati.
It seems that somewhere in history, Brahma and Saraswati were neglected, and there is a reason for it. Brahma had something which the others did not have and that was his ego – ahamkara. Narayana did not have ego, Narayana is transcendental. Siva did not have ego, he is also transcendental. However, Brahma needs to have ego for he is material. He is the responsible element in creation, so individuality has to exist in Brahma. This individuality becomes the cause of the downfall of every human being including Brahma.
If we fail today it is because of our individuality, and if we succeed today it is because of our individuality. Narayana and Siva do not need individuality. They are transcendental conditions: all-pervasive, omnipresent. Brahma is an individual unit and there has to be ego in it. The ego always tells you that you are better, superior to other people. Due to this identity and awareness of being superior, Brahma was relegated to a lower spot than Narayana and Siva. He was also ignored, for he represented the material growth and dimension of objects in time and space, whereas Narayana and Siva do not represent material objects.
Another important point is that nothing can happen, nothing can be created, without knowledge. Even to decorate something there has to be some visualization, some concept, some idea, some knowledge of how it should be done. Otherwise decoration won’t be pleasant at all. To manufacture something there has to be a plan, some understanding of what has to be done. For farming, agriculture, engineering, construction, architecture, for everything in life to create something there has to be knowledge.
Brahma and Saraswati, the creative power and the knowledge of creation, are together. Brahma makes the car in the factory and then the car is sent out and people buy the car. Narayana becomes the service centre where the car goes after so many thousands of kilometres, or after so many months for a good servicing, check-up and top up. When the car begins to bellow fumes, doesn't run and function properly, then Siva comes to take the car away to his graveyard.
Narayana and Siva are for maintenance and for taking things away. They are not bothered by the mechanics of creation. Brahma is bothered by the mechanics of creation and for that he needs knowledge of what to do, so Saraswati is there. People some how disassociated Saraswati from their own life and identified more with Lakshmi of Narayana and Shakti of Siva.
Basant Panchami represents the time of Saraswati as it also represents new growth. The fifth day of spring represents the new growth after winter. So again it is part of creation, the Brahma element. In that Brahma element, Saraswati is inherent. Spring represents the Brahma element – revival of nature after the winter, and the fifth day of spring becomes Saraswati’s.
The Saraswati effect is felt on all five koshas, dimensions or lokas, which are under the control of Brahma. Mooladhara, swadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddhi are the realm of Brahma where everything is experienced individually. When you come to ajna and sahasrara nothing is experienced independently or individually. Everything becomes one homogeneous experience.
Wisdom is associated with creation and Saraswati represents wisdom, she does not represent knowledge. It is like food and digestion. You can eat food – breakfast, lunch and dinner, but then the body has to derive the nourishment from the food to survive. The energy is extracted from what you consume by the body and that becomes the prana shakti of the body.
In the same manner, what you study is like what you eat, but what you extract from that study becomes part of your behaviour, thinking and expression – that is wisdom. You study to gain knowledge, yet you don’t necessarily apply the knowledge. If knowledge becomes wisdom, it is an expression of life, and that is the role of Saraswati. Therefore, she is the goddess of wisdom, not of knowledge.
You can have twenty degrees but no wisdom. You can know many things but never apply them in life. So what is the use of knowing? When you know things but you are unable to apply them that is the curse of Saraswati. When you know things and you are able to apply them to improve yourself that is the grace of Saraswati. That is the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
I am happy that Bihar School of Yoga was founded during the time of Basant Panchami as it shows a direct connection with the shakti of Saraswati. Sri Swamiji has said many times that we belong to the Saraswati tradition and our prime duty is to preserve the vidya for posterity. This is an indication that vidya is living knowledge, and jnana is static knowledge. Saraswati aims to give vidya not jnana. Having Basant Panchami as the foundation day of BSY is the path laid out by Paramahamsaji – to always strive to develop and live the knowledge in life, and that is also the fulfilment of yoga vidya.
15 February 2021, Ganga Darshan, Munger