WWSD: What Would Saraswati Do?

30 Days of Devotion
Day 15: Activities Associated with the Deity

Saraswati is a goddess of wisdom, learning, education, and the arts. As such, it’s fairly self evident that academic and scholastic pursuits fall under her purview. In my opinion this is why she was not only adopted by Buddhists, but has remained very popular.

In fact, Saraswati’s Buddhist devotees included some of the foremost leaders and thinkers of the religion. None other than Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism (currently led by HH The Dalai Lama) wrote a prayer to the goddess, asking that she grant him her eloquence:

Captivating presence, stealing my mind,
Like a lightning-adorned cloud beautifying the sky,
There amid a celestial gathering of youthful musicians.
Compassionate goddess, come here now!
Those alluring honeybee eyes in that lotus face,
That long, dark blue hair, glowing with white light,
There before me in a pose of seductive dance.
Grant me, Saraswati, your power of speech!
Those beautiful, playful antelope eyes,
I gaze insatiably upon you, seducer of my mind,
Goddess of speech with a mother’s compassion,
Make our speech as one.
More beautiful than the splendour of a full autumn moon,
A voice eclipsing the sweetest melody of Brahma,
A mind as hard to fathom as the deepest ocean,
I bow before the goddess Saraswati.

Saraswati was explicitly stated in Buddhist scripture (specifically The Sutra of Golden Light) to grant eloquence and enhanced memory to monks. Given the increasing intricacies of Mahayana theology and the highly competitive nature of religious scholasticism in Tibet and India from the time of the Buddha onward, those who sought Saraswati’s blessings did so gladly.

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