In Tantric yoga, murtis or statues, are symbols that represent various characteristics or values of the absolute. The absolute which contains all values and yet retains its essential wholeness. Particularly there is a focus on Nātaraja, as he dances the five acts of creation, manifestation, dissolution, concealment and revelation, both on the cosmic and individual level.
Another such one is the Goddess Sarāswati.
The goddess of knowledge and wisdom. She is also the goddess of art, literature and intellectual esthetic connection. The one who connects what we know, with our appreciation of what is pleasurable and beautiful to the senses.
Sarāswati is also the name of a river in India. Rivers are the lifeblood, the vein as it were of a place, bringing nourishment to those not living as close to source, always moving. We have this image of the flow of knowledge moving to the individual from all sources: nature, art, books, the voice of teachers, making potent that which enlivens it all, consciousness.
And this knowledge imparting wisdom in the form of that knowledge being not only understood and deepened, but because individual awareness is moved to source, closer to the root of all knowledge, it is more potently experienced, digested, owned and finally articulated via the mouth of the speaker. In doing so, it becomes a source of personal wisdom. These are the values, the characteristics Sarāswati represents. When one speaks eloquently and potently it is said that “Sarāswati dances on the tongue.”
She is the goddess of knowledge and the arts, embodies the wisdom of the devīs. She is the river of consciousness that enlivens creation; she is the dawn-goddess whose rays dispel the darkness of ignorance. To realize her one must go beyond the pleasures of the senses and repose in the serenity of the spirit. Even, as it is the very senses she enlivens so that we may engage more fully with what is beautiful and high.
The four Vedas, books of universal knowledge, are her offspring. Her mount, the swan, personifies pure knowledge and her herald, the peacock, is a symbol of the arts.
Schools and libraries are her temples; books, pens, musical instruments and all tools of the artist, are the items used in honoring the enlightened goddess of wisdom.
What is the highest knowledge that humans may attain about anything and everything yes, and at the pinnacle, about the nature of consciousness itself, the subject of Self. The subject and source of our very Self.
How do we go about hearing the word of consciousness that is paradoxically silent? We come to understand that to hear, we must learn to listen, we must refine and permit complexity to settle because these teachings, the commentary of the masters, and our own inner voice of wisdom, are at the level of the paśyanti, the ultra subtle visioning word prior to coalescing thought. We approach as we can, with innocence and a kind of humility, as well as the understanding that whatever we think we know, will open more and more.
Knowledge flows through the senses, the mind organizes, and this knowledge is deepened and refined via practice, study and life lived fully. The path is forged and cleared as we trace back from the gross level across ever more subtle bands of awareness, resting in source. Coming back out into the world, what we see and know is more vivid; its intrinsic beauty revealed because the light, always free is now naturally expanding into the clearing we have made. There are many levels of sequential unfolding in the tradition as there is in life. Go deep.
Sarāswati is the river of knowledge, the arts and aesthetic sensibility. She flows from, and as the source of the most potent form of knowledge, wisdom. The source of everything, she flows through our bodies as śakti, energy moving, pulsing to nourish every cell, to illuminate and expand the mind and heighten the senses. I yearn, deeply to flow ease-fully with her.
When she is blocked strong emotion in the form of frustration, anger, sadness arise. I realize when I feel as though I do not belong, or that I am unheard, unwanted or superfluous in some capacity, sadness is deep and strong. My life force arrested, I am in a sense, imprisoned. In moving the body and breath we assist the release of these blockages. Just as the removal of rock, debris and sludge permits the flow of water unencumbered, so too does movement of our energy in yoga open and free the stoppage of her natural flow. Rooted, always rooted, in source the flow of śakti moves naturally and freely to nourish the body-mind and life in full.
Recognize the emotion that arises from blockage and settle, surrender, risk vulnerability and permit the flow of tears that arises when separation from source is felt. This too is the flow of her power. To be more fully human is to embrace the understanding that we carry all within us. In the daily practice of yoga, we steep in source, and naturally flow powerfully and freely through all life brings. We may stop for a while, temporarily caught, but we come to know more and more that we possess the tools to free what is blocked and nourish life.
Some stay shallow. Yogis go deep