30 Days of Devotion
Day 3: Iconography
Images of Saraswati are easy to find with a quick search of the interwebz. In the wild, they are almost as easy to identify, because she has a fairly set visual iconography that has evolved over the handful of millennia that she’s been worshipped.
In modern Hinduism, Saraswati is usually shown with four arms. Two of these play a stringed instrument known as the veena. Saraswati’s veena is said to emit all the sounds of the cosmos. In fact, the veena is her characteristic iconographic trait.
Non-Hindu icons of Saraswati are more likely to show her with only two arms, which still nonetheless clutch the cosmic veena. She is so heavily connected with it that even when she came to Japan as Benzaiten-sama, she still strummed away on its strings – though it had been transformed into a different instrument, the biwa or lute.