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International Journal of Sanskrit Research

2023, Vol. 9, Issue 5, Part A

Iconographical significance of the deity sarasvatī in Buddhism and Jainism

Subir Mondal

The cosmic gods and goddesses are noble beings. They do not enter into a body and go through the same earthly process as human beings do. Sarasvatī is the first river who got status as a Vedic goddess. The Ṛgveda calls her best mother, best of rivers, best of goddesses,—— अम्बितमे, नदीतमे, देवीतमे सरस्वति(Ṛgveda, 2.41.16) Sarasvatī is the great goddess of learning and fine arts, is most merciful and bestower of wisdom on her devotees. Sarasvatī is also popular among Buddhist and Jaina traditions. The five types of the deity Sarasvatī in Buddhism are namely,—— Mahāsarasvatī, Vajravīṇāsarasvatī, Vajrasarasvatī, Āryasarasvatī, Vajrasāradā. Goddess Mahāsarasvatī, resplendent like the autumn moon, rests on the moon over a white lotus, shows the varadamudrā in her right hand, and carries in the left a white lotus with its stem. Vajravīṇāsarasvatī like Mahāsarasvatī is also white in complexion, peaceful and benign in appearance. She carries in her two hands the vīṇā, a kind of strainged musical instrument. Vajrasarasvatī has a form with three faces and six arms and her hair is brown and rises upwards. Āryasarasvatī appears a maiden of sixteen, is in the prime of youth, has white complexion, and carries in the left hand the stalk of a lotus on which rests the Prajñāpāramitā book. Vajrasāradā rests upon a pure white lotus, and a crescent decorates her crown; she is three eyed and two armed and carries the book in the left hand and the lotus in the right. The oldest Jaina Sarasvatī is considered to be the one unearthed from Kaṅkāli Ṭilā at Mathura. Besides the sixteen vidyādevī’s, the jainas of both seats admit into their pantheon, one śruta-devī or Sarasvatī approximating very closely the Brāhmaṇical conception of the same goddess. The sixteen types of Vidyādevī in Jainism are,——Rohiṇī, Prajñapti, Vajra-śṛṅkhalā, Vajrāṅkuśa or Kuliśāṅkuśā, Apraticakrā or Jambunadā or Cakreśvarī, Puruṣadattā or Bhāratī, Kālī, Mahākālī, Gaurī, Gāndhārī, Mahājvālā or Sarvāstramahājvālā or Jvālāmālinī, Mānavī, Vairāṭyā, Acchuptā, Mānasī, Mahāmānasī or Mahāmānavī. The description of this goddess, as in other cases, varies, with the two sects, with the Śvetāmbara, she rides a cow and holds in her hands a conch, rosary, bow and arrow. In order to know the personality of Sarasvatī, the goddess of learning and eloquence. We have many information which are generally collected from the sources like the Vedas, the Brāhmaṇas, the myths and the legends of the Epics, Purāṇas, Sculptures, Buddhism and Jainism. This goddess has not only worshipped by the Purāṇic devotees in India. But she is also said to have secured a predominant place in the Buddhist world, Jainist world and literary sources. So, the characteristics features and iconographical significance of the deity Sarasvatī is very important in Buddhist and Jaina tradition.
Pages : 23-27 | 306 Views | 139 Downloads


International Journal of Sanskrit Research
How to cite this article:
Subir Mondal. Iconographical significance of the deity sarasvatī in Buddhism and Jainism. Int J Sanskrit Res 2023;9(5):23-27. DOI: 10.22271/23947519.2023.v9.i5a.2204

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