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Sarasvati (also romanized as Saraswati) is the Hindu goddess of knowledge that includes art, science, education and writing. There have been mentions, due to her association with the more general Hindu divine mother concept of Devi, of relations to water and fertility. In the Rig-Veda (6,61,7), she is credited with killing the asura (demon) Vritra (also romanized as Vrtra) who represents darkness. Her consort is Brahma.

She was originally a river-goddess (see Vedic Sarasvati River). As a river-deity, she came to be the goddess of everything that flows: words (and knowledge, by extension), speech, eloquence, and music. Her association with writing may also be due to the fact that the earliest writing in India (Indus or Sarasvati script) is found in the Sarasvati valley towns and cities. She is often seen as equivalent to the other Vedic goddesses like Vaak (divine word), Savitri (Illumination) and Gayatri. In the Shakta tradition (worship of Shakti or Devi, the female aspect of the divinity), Sarasvati represents intelligence, consciousness and cosmic knowledge.

In Indian art she is depicted in human form, as a woman with four arms, often playing a string instrument called the Veena. She rides a swan.

In India today, Hindus still revere Sarasvati as the Goddess of Knowledge. On special days in the Hindu calendar special pujas are arranged for, and she is present in representation in many educational centers.

In Indian Classical Music Sarasvati is the patron Goddess of practically all musicians, whether Hindu or Muslim. Some of the world's greatest instrumentalists who revere Sarasvati as the Mother of Music are Ravi Shankar and Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Sarasvati In Non-Hindu Culture

Besides her role in Hinduism, she was also, like the Hindu goddess Tara, absorbed from Vedic culture into the Buddhist pantheon and came to China via the Chinese translations of the Sutra of Golden Light, which has a section devoted to her. Now largely forgotten in China, she is still worshipped in Japan under the name Benzaiten. Other names for her include Sarada, Sharada, Vani.