Vasanta Panchami – Saraswati Puja
What is Saraswati Devi Puja
The fifth day of Shukla Paksha (fortnight between the new moon and full moon) in the month of Māgha, is observed as Vasanta Panchami. Winter bids farewell and Spring begins from this day. Traditionally, Saraswati Devi is worshipped on Vasanta Panchami. It is also called “Shri Panchami”. On this day Saraswati Devi is worshipped everywhere. Since Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge and art, little children who are going to start their first writing and learning, observe the “Haat Khari” (first writing ceremony) ritual on this day. On this day many artists and sculptors start their new projects after paying their obeisance to the goddess Saraswati.
- Divine Appearance of
– Srimati Bishnupriya Thakurani
– Sri Pundarik Vidyanidhi
– Srila Raghunath Das Goswami
– Sri Raghunandana Thakur
- Divine Disappearance of
– Srila Vishwanath Chakravarty Thakur
– HDG Srila Bhakti Svarupa Parvata Maharaj
– HDG Srila Bhakti Viveka Bharati Goswami Maharaj
How do materialistic people contemplate Saraswati Puja:
Shri Bhagavan has numerous kinds of Shakti. We can divide those into three categories:
- Chit Shakti
- Jiva Shakti
- Maya Shakti.
Chid Shakti is called internal potency. Maya Shakti is external potency and Jiva Shakti is marginal potency of the Lord. Jiva Shakti is called “Tatastha” or marginal because it can be influenced by both Chid Shakti & Maya Shakti.
When Jiva considers himself to be related to the Maya Shakti, despite being superior to Maya, due to this false consideration, he is forced to serve Maya. There is another kind of Jivas who devote themselves to the service of Bhagavan under the influence of Chid Shakti. This kind of Jiva is called “Bhakt”.
Therefore, Jivas can be categorized into two types:
- Ones who have been bewildered by Maya,
- One is beyond the influence of Maya, at the shelter of Chid Shakti.
Srimad Bhagavatam (1.2.27) says,
“rajas-tamaḥ-prakṛtayaḥ, sama-śīlā bhajanti vai
Translation: Those who are in the modes of passion and ignorance worship those in the same category—namely the forefathers, other living beings, and the demigods who are in charge of cosmic activities—for they are urged by a desire to be materially benefited with women, wealth, power and progeny.
According to this verse of Srimad Bhagavatam, they worship material nature in different forms. Among them are seen:
- VaishnavasVaishnavas (these Vaishnavas worship Saguna Vishnu & treat Vishnu as a demigod). Being affected by the three modes of nature, materialistic people accept one demigod among five according to their individual tendency and taste. They might be known as Shaktas, Shaivas, Vaishnavas i.e. the worshippers of saguna forms of Vishnu, or any of the five mentioned above. But they worship Lakshmi for money to enjoy their senses or Sarasvati for material knowledge by which they acquire material gains.
The identity of Saraswati Devi, worshipped by mundane people:
Srila Jiva Goswami in paragraph:17 of Tattva Sandarbha writes on the identity of Saraswati Devi worshipped by conditioned souls:
“Sankirneshu saraswatya pitrnancha nigadyate”
(Tattva Sandarbha : 17: quotation from Matsya Purana)
In the commentary of “Sankirna” Srila Jiva Goswami writes, “sankirneshu sattva rajastamomayeshu”- i.e. “Sankirna” denotes people under the influence of Sattva, rajas & tamas / mayik or prakrta.
In the definition of “Saraswati”, Shri Jiva Goswami writes: “Nanavanyatmakah Tadupalakshitaya nama Devataya Ityarthah”, means presiding deities of words; which means various demigods.
Therefore here “Saraswati” implies the Devi( a demi-goddess) who only guides jivas towards material enjoyment. This Saraswati Devi serves the instruction of Sri Krishna and provides “apara Vidya” (material knowledge), however, this knowledge does not carry Jivas towards Krishna, but rather makes them averse.
Hence this “Sankirna” (ungenerous) Saraswati Devi provides material gains for sense gratification. In this material world, we can see her among the “avarana” (companion) deities of Mayadevi Durga.
Identity of the Saraswati Devi worshipped by devotees:
The intimate devotees of the Lord, worship Saraswati Devi as the internal potency of the Lord. “Mahabhagavata Vara” (greatest amongst the great Devotees of the Lord) Srila Suta Goswami Maharaja paid his obeisance to “para vidya rupini” (embodiment of spiritual knowledge) Saraswati Devi in the mangala charana verse of Srimad Bhagavatam:
“nārāyaṇaṁ namaskṛtya, naraṁ caiva narottamam
devīṁ sarasvatīṁ vyāsaṁ, tato jayam udīrayet”
Before reciting this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is the very means of conquest, one should offer respectful obeisance unto the Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, unto Nara-nārāyaṇa Ṛṣi, the super most human being, unto mother Saraswatī, the goddess of learning, and unto Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the author.
Srila Sukhdev Goswami, the greatest of all munis, says in SB canto 2,
“Prachodiya yena pyu Saraswati, Vitanvatajasya satim smrtim hrdi
Svalakshana pradurbhut kilasyata, Sa me rshinamrshabha prasidatam”
Saraswati Devi manifested the knowledge of creation inside the heart of Brahma before the creation. Under Her influence, another Saraswati Devi appeared from Brahma’s mouth as the embodiment of the Vedas. She considered Shri Krishna as the supreme worshippable deity. May Shri Bhagavan who is the supreme among those who deliver knowledge, be pleased with me.
According to this verse, as per the directions of the Lord, Saraswati Devi took birth from the mouth of Brahma. In this context, Shri Vishwanath Chakravarty writes: “Saraswati Kathamvuta – tvam Shri Krishnam lakshayati”. “Saraswati Kathamvuta” – Who is this Saraswati? The answer is She is “sva Lakshana”: She indicates Herself i.e. Krishna as the supreme. Shri Chaitanya Bhagavata, Adi, chapter 2, text 9-12 says:
“Purve Brahma janmilena nabhipadma haite।
Tathapiha Shakti nai kichhui dekhite।।
Tave jabe sarva bhave Laila sharana।
Tave prabhu kripay dilen darashan।।
Tave Krishna kripay sphurila Saraswati।
Tave se Janila sarva avatara sthiti।।
Hena Krishna chamdrera durjneya avatara।
Tara kripa vine Kara Shakti janibar।।”
Are both the same or different?
In this context, the natures of Saraswati Devi Puja, by both mundane people and devotees are shown. Now the question is are they same or different from one another?
The answer is although both Sarasvati Devis are considered to be the potencies of Lord Krishna, they are similar to an extent. But they are not the same as one is “Maya baddha” (conditioned) and another one “Maya mukta” (free from Maya). One is the function of internal potency and the other is of external. One is the embodiment of Vedas and Krishna Kirtan, showing the way of Krishna bhajan to Jivas. Another one bewilders conditioned souls and promotes mundane discussions, not Krishna bhajan.
The internally potent Saraswati Devi is Krishna Preyasi (beloved of Krishna):
The Saraswati Devi who is the presiding deity of transcendental knowledge is the internal potency of Krishna. She conducts the innate desires of Lord Krishna. Without her, Lord Krishna’s pastimes cannot manifest, because she is the consort of Lord Krishna’s pastimes.
The reasons why she is Krishna s companion:
- She churns the heart of Vrajavasis, manifesting as Krishna’s flute tune.
- In Lord Ananta’s mouth, she manifests herself as the verbal form of Krishna’s pastimes.
- She constantly makes Krishna & His devotees happy by propagating Krishna’s pastimes.
- In this material world, she manifests in form of scriptures which implies Bhakti.
- She serves Krishna in several ways. Therefore, she is an internal associate of Krishna.
In spite of being under the control of Lord Krishna, the extrinsically potent Saraswati Devi can never please Him:
The presiding Saraswati Devi of material knowledge cannot please Krishna. because:
- She misleads the conditioned souls by trapping them in material knowledge. Every living entity is Krishna’s child, therefore Krishna does not become happy at this material bondage of Jivas.
- Jivas who are not inclined to Krishna, this Saraswati Devi traps them by developing false pride of their possessed knowledge. Therefore, she is external potency.
This Maya Shakti is nothing but an energy of Krishna. But Maya cannot be in front of Krishna due to hesitation. It is stated in Srimad Bhagavatam: 2.5.13,
“vilajjamānayā yasya, sthātum īkṣā-pathe ’muyā
vimohitā vikatthante, mamāham iti durdhiyaḥ“
Translation: The illusory energy of the Lord cannot take precedence, being ashamed of her position, but those who are bewildered by her always talk nonsense, being absorbed in thoughts of “I” and “ Mine.”
Though this external potency is a consort of Krishna, she becomes ashamed to be in front of HIM. Just like an unchaste wife fear to go before her husband lest she should be suspected by her husband.
Saraswati herself expressed this to Keshava Kashmiri:
Krpadrshtye Bhagyavanta Brahmanera prati।
Kahite lagila ati gopya Saraswati।।
Saraswati bolen shunaha vipravara।
Vedagopya kahi ei tomara gocara।।
Kara sthane kaha yadi e sakala katha।
Tave Tumi shighra haiva alpayu sarvatha।।
Yara Thain tomar haila parajaya।
Ananta brahmanda natha sei sunischaya।
Ami jara padapadme nirantara dasi।
Sammukha haite apanare lajja vasi।।
(Chaitanya Bhagavata: Adi,13.127-131)
As soon as these verses of Chaitanya Bhagavata are read carefully along with the following words of the devotees, it is understood that these two Sarasvati Devis are always separate from one another.
The Opaqueness of the blessed sons of Saraswati:
We came to know the name of Kalidasa who got boons from “Mayashaktigata” (under the influence of Maya) Saraswati. Later on, Keshava Kashmiri was the blessed child of Saraswati in Mahaprabhu’s contemporary. He was also blessed with poetic empowerment by worshipping Saraswati. After that, we got many blessed sons of Saraswati in India whose scholarship make the world stunned.
Srila Bhakti Vinoda Thakura writes in his “Kalyana Kalpataru”
Mana re kena kara vidyara gaurava?
Smriti saahtra Vyakarana Nana bhasha alochon
Briddhi kare yashera saurava।।
Kintu dekho chinta Kari Yadi na bhajile Hari
Vidya tava kevali raurava।
Krishna prati anurakti sei vije janme bhakti
Vidya haite taha asambhav।।
Vidyay marjana Tara kabhu kabhu opakara
Jagatete kari anubhava।
Ye vidyara alochane Krishna rati sphure mane
Tahari adara Jano sab।।
Bhakti badha jaha hate se vidyara mastakete
Padaghata kara akaitava।
Saraswati krishnapriya Krishna Bhakti Tara hiya
Vinodera sei se vaibhava।।
How Srila Prabhupada worshipped Saraswati Devi
“The “Paravidyapitha” & its part “Avidya harana Vidyalaya” are founded to make the transcendental knowledge that was propagated by Veda Pati Gaurahari. It was made easily available for all to restart the worship of Vishnu-Kanta Saraswati in the land of Shri Navadvipa (which is the land of knowledge and also the birthplace of Saraswati-pati Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu) and to inaugurate the innate spiritual knowledge inside the heart of eminent personalities.”
Purport: Vedas are the source of all scriptures. The master of Vedas is Shri Gaura Sundara or Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The transcendental teachings, preached by Sri Gauranga, are available in the scriptures. This transcendental knowledge should be available for everyone as Navadvip is the land of knowledge. It is said in Chaitanya Bhagavata:
Trividha boyose ak jati laksha laksha।
Saraswati prasade sobai mahadaksha।।
Save maha adhyapak Kari garva dhare।
Balakeo bhattacharya sane kaksha kare।।
Nana Desh haite lok navadvipe jay।
Navadvipe padile se vidyarasa pay।।
Atayeva paduyar nahi samucchaya।
Laksha koti adhyapaka nahika nischaya।।
This is the lost tradition of Navadvipa. In order to restart this lost tradition, by the grace of Sri Gaurasundara (the master of Saraswati Devi) Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Thakur established Paravidyapith. This Paravidyapitha is also known as “Avidya Harana Vidyalaya”.
Saraswati Puja in Gaudiya Matha of Srila Prabhupada:
After founding Gaudiya Matha, Gaudiya goshthipati Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Thakur established two different temples. One is Garbha Mandira, where deities are served every day; another one is Natya Mandira where the Lord and His associates are served through shravana and kirtana. That is why this Natya Mandir is the playground of Saraswati Devi.
Gaudiya Vaishnavas serve Saraswati Devi through sankirtana here. This is Vani seva or Saraswati Devi Puja of gaudiyas in gaudiya Mathas.