SPIRIT BODY YOGA has
chosen SARASWATI as its presiding deity. Or perhaps SARASWATI
does the choosing! As students of life, seeking to know the true
nature of Self and tap into the beauty our world offers, we may
receive her grace, guidance and inspiration.
Originally the name Saraswati
belonged to a sacred river in India, considered to be the Mother
of all Rivers. Her waters were endowed with the power of
purification, inner and outer, and in ancient times rituals with
fire were performed along the banks of the river. With time this
process of purification through ritual has become internalized;
instead of a sacrificial fire, now one may make a personal
sacrifice in order to obtain knowledge and ultimately liberation
or Moksha. We can become liberated through disciplines
of the body, breathing and mind.
Saraswati has become
the goddess of knowledge and learning, music and speech. The
fluidity of the Vedic Saraswati River is personified in the flow
of all water, speech, thought, music and poetry. Sounds, such
as OM, and mantras have taken precedence over the ancient practice
The imagery of Saraswati
is rich in symbolism. The river represents a quest in which the
spiritual pilgrim undergoes a transition or rebirth; a migration
from a world of ignorance or bondage to a place of enlightenment
Saraswati, being female,
embodies the feminine qualities recognized in vedic tradition;
among them are tolerance as well as moral and spiritual strength.
Her four arms represent the four directions, showing that she
is all-pervading. The front arms represent the manifest world,
and the back arms the subjective world. These also demonstrate
the four aspects of the personality or the four functions of
the mindmana, buddhi, chitta and ahamkara. Mana is the
sensory or processing mind, Buddhi is discrimination, Chitta
is memory, and Ahamkara is the ego. An aspirant should understand
these aspects individually and coordinate them with one another.
The book is knowledge. The rosary or mala symbolizes
the meditative process. The swan is the discriminatory power
between right and wrong, as well as the real and unreal. The
message here is be in the world, but not possessed by it;
we are reminded of this by the process of inhaling and exhaling.
The lotus flower at her feet represents supreme knowledge. It
rises up from its roots in the mud, through water and up into
the light. The Veena is a stringed instrument that embodies the
element of sound and has a vocal quality that awakens the inner
senses. Divinity itself is said to speak through the flow of
music. The Veena is considered as the human spinal cord; its
musical expression invokes inner knowledge and relates our collective
human sound (thoughts and actions) to the music of the cosmos.
SPIRIT BODY YOGA understands Yoga to be an art as well as
a science. Human culture involves artistic creation as well as
knowledge of the sciences and when these are integrated the world
is precious and beautiful.
Saraswati indicates our
creative and cognitive potential, as well as giving us the keys
to that potential. She is the source of inspiration and purity
that we emulate in our striving towards artistic, intellectual
and spiritual enlightenment.