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Sarasvati, the Sacred River.

By Yogi Baba Prem Yogacharya, Veda Visharada

To understand the sarasvati river, we need to take a journey.  Our journey would begin in the northwestern Himalayan region. Traveling back to 10-12,000 BCE, we would be nearing the end of last ice age.  During this time vast amounts of water were being released as massive “super” glaciers melted.  These waters flowed down existing streams and carved new waterways.  One of the great rivers created through this process was the Sarasvati river.  In the Rg Veda, Sarasvati is referred to approximately 50-60 times.  Some of these references are to the river and others are literal references to the Goddess. 

As a river goddess, sometimes Sarasvati is given little value in modern society, but most of our modern cities are still built on water or near waterways.  Rivers are still the life blood of a society, just as they were 10,000 years ago.  Though, we do not consciously value the river in the same way that ancient societies did.  As a river goddess and river, Sarasvati represented food, nourishment and life to ancient people.  Providing needed water for crops, transportation, and other important needs for people.  Water also represents purity, as it has a purifying quality.  Water was used in healing, and for the cleansing of wounds.  The Sarasvati river was extremely large, reminiscence of the Amazon river during its flood stage.  At times, the Sarasvati river was over a mile wide. 

For many years, scholars and governments have debated as to whether the Sarasvati was actually a river.  Satellite imagery, archaeology and other scientific studies have conclusively proved the existence of the ancient Sarasvati river.  The most difficult critic, the Indian government, has recently accepted this growing mountain of evidence; leading to a governmental acceptance of the existence of the Sarasvati river. 

But the forces of nature, that shaped the creation of the Sarasvati, began to work against the river.  The Himalayas are the result of powerful tectonic plate movements that have forced the mountains high into the heavens.  These forces are still at work today, as the Himalayas continue to slowly increase in elevation each year.  These powerful forces of nature, diverted the Yamuna river (a major tributary) from the Sarasvati.  Additional tectonic movements continued to redirect water flow.  Slowly the Sarasvati’s  tributaries disappeared and the glacier’s receeded greatly, reducing their direct contribution to the Sarasvati.  The river became smaller, and eventually could not support life on the scale that it once had.  The result was a portion of the regional population migrating eastward toward the Ganges.  In some ways, as a river goddess, the ganges replaced the Sarasvati as the sacred river in the post Vedic people.  But Sarasvati as a river and Goddess would remain important in the lives of spiritual aspirants. 

Sarasvati in Ayurveda.

In Ayurveda, the Sarasvati still flows.  She flows from the tailbone, up through the spinal canal and ends at the tip of the tongue.  This indicates Sarasvati’s strong connection with speech, the word, communication, and expression.  In yoga, when one has a sore throat often a yogi would suggest lion pose to help heal the throat.  This posture directly stimulates the Sarasvati nadi.  Many throat problems are associated with this nadi.  Of the 350,000 nadi’s in the astral body, the Saravati nadi is one of the 14 most important, from an ayurvedic perspective.  So Sarasvati is very important in our ability to communicate, to speak, or our power of speech.  If our inner Sarasvati flows strong, our power of speech will be stronger. 

But Sarasvati is not just speech, a series of hymns in the Rg Veda are referred to as the Apri hymns.  These hymns focus on three primary deities: Ila, Sarasvati and Bharati.  Ila is associated with sight.  Sarasvati is associated with hearing; and Bharati is associated with vastness.  So Sarasvati is not only speech, but hearing.  The ability to hear on a mundane level, but more importantly, Sarasvati is the ability to hear on a much deeper spiritual level.  It is interesting to note that the Vedas were heard by rishis while in deep meditation.  Hearing on a deep spiritual level is critical to spiritual realization and advancement on spiritual levels. 

 

Copyright 2012.  All Rights Reserved. 

 

Yogi Baba Prem

  • Yogi Baba Prem has two books published in India, and has written numerous other books published by Universal Yoga. 
  • His articles have appeared in several traditional magazines and a variety of e-magazines.