Of a feather

Saraswati is associated in Hindu lore with the a bird called a hamsa, hence the name of this blog. The identity of the hamsa is somewhat debated. Is it a goose or a swan? Personally I don’t really care. Geese and swans, as well as the other bird Saraswati is associated with – the peacock – are all quite lovely creatures.

Geese get a bad reputation as dimwitted and ill-natured, but this isn’t really correct. They are actually quite intelligent birds, and also very brave. The problem is they are often both too clever and too brave for their own good.

Swans are aesthetically more pleasing than geese, according to popular conception. In fact, I’ve seen this put forward as an argument for the hamsa being a swan and not a goose, rather than anything really solid such as linguistics or biology. Of course, swans (and peacocks too, actually) share a reputation with the geese for being mean and stupid despite their beauty.

I’ve always felt that both swans and geese are suitable to be the hamsa, and along with the peacock they are truly worthy companions for My Lady. They are graceful in flight and on water, and proud when they show their true colors. It is not simply their beauty but their boldness that makes them hers.

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