Saraswati, The Goddess of Knowledge (March 2005)
The Goddess Saraswati is represented as sitting on a lotus. She has four hands. She holds the sacred scripture in one hand and a lotus in the other. With the third and fourth hands she plays the Indian lute (veena).
The four hands of the Goddess represent the four aspects of the inner personality of human kind, namely, mind, intellect, ego and consciousness.
By holding the lotus in her hand, Saraswati indicates the supreme goal of self-realization. As lotus does not get wet and dirty despite being in mud water, human kind should strive to achieve the goal of life.
There are two paths of self-realization: the path of knowledge and the path of devotion.
The path of knowledge is shown by Goddess holding scriptures, the sacred book. It expounds Vedanta, the philosophy of the Vedas. This path is meant for intellectuals.
The path of devotion is called bhakti marga. This path is for those who are devotional, who use the heart to sing the glory of the their Lord. This is indicated by Saraswati playing the veena.
Saraswati symbolizes knowledge. Without knowledge, one can get into all sorts of problems and difficulties. The essence of Gayatri mantra that we recite at least three times a day is to seek the righteous thoughts for our minds and righteous path for our lives.