Flowing Through the Throat Chakra with Saraswati
A while back I finally had my Vedic astrology chart done and was informed I had the goddess Saraswati in my chart as well as the lord Hanuman. I love to sing and chant in my classes and lead Kirtan, so this all made sense to me because Hanuman loves to fly and was known for his love of singing. Meanwhile, Saraswati rules the throat chakra and is the goddess of music, clear speech, knowledge, and communication—things I’m always striving towards.
Leading a retreat in Bali, I had been drawn to statues and images of Saraswati and brought some home. I realized that my own need to balance my throat chakra through chanting was an aspect of Saraswati in me. And if you’re ever in need of speaking your truth or communicating more clearly, invoking the essence of Saraswati can be very helpful.
Saraswati and the Sound of Om
At the beginning of everything, when the Universe was a swirling mass of nothing and everything, Brahma stood staring at the chaos. Brahma, of the Holy Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, was well-known as the Creator and representative of brighter, new beginnings. He stood scratching one of his four heads in confusion. He wasn’t sure how to get started with his task of creating something of a Universe out of a gurgling, swirling, bubbling mass of chaotic energy. Saraswati, who was Brahma’s wife at the time, saw Brahma’s confusion, so she decided to help in her own way.
Brahma heard the sound of a great rushing cascade of water, but looked around and saw nothing. It was from the depths of his being where the water moved and flowed through his throat. A great waterfall poured out of his mouth, and with the waterfall came Saraswati.
She was fascinating and beautiful to behold. Her skin as luminous as the moonlight, her hair as black as night with no moon. She held a stringed instrument in her arms and began playing. And with her music, she spoke. She told Brahma she would give him one sound, which he was to use to create order from chaos. The sound held three syllables: A, U, and M.
The three syllables represent beginnings, middles, and endings, just like the Holy Trinity. When chanted these syllables would set the stage for everything to be born, live, and die. Brahma took a comfortable seat and began to chant over and over the sound of OM. The sound took hold of nothing and began to create everything.
Saraswati and the Throat Chakra
Whether you’re rocking out to Slayer in your car, or sitting in a yoga class chanting, you’re using and moving good energy through your throat chakra.
The name of the throat chakra or fifth chakra is the Vishuddha Chakra, or the purity energy center. This energy center is where we connect to truthful speech and clear communication. If this area is blocked, we experience throat and mouth problems as well as insecurities, indecision, and creative blocks.
Saraswati’s essence corresponds with the throat chakra. If we are ever in need of speaking our truth, committing to our spoken boundaries, or expressing dialogue more clearly, chant. And, yes, a Saraswati mantra is helpful for invoking Saraswati, but I also believe any time you’re singing or chanting you’re invoking Saraswati no matter what. To get specific and focused on evoking Saraswati, chant the following a few times, or 108 times to be precise!
OM AIM SARASWATIYEY NAMAHA
Saraswati and the Water Element
One translation of ‘Saras’ in Saraswati’s name is ‘flow.’ Saraswati’s essence tied to the water element shows up in the flow of creativity and the flow of clear, truthful words from our mouths. She is also the flow of knowledge and how we express it into the world.
Looking at the water in a river or a creek, notice first the water itself. Then you may notice some branches and rocks, or even a fallen tree. What is evident about water as it traverses the course, is it is always malleable. Water inherently knows how to go with the flow. And most importantly, as the water makes its way around the different obstacles, it never loses a sense of its essence. It knows how to be true to its own essence.
Saraswati’s water essence is our thirst for knowledge, the knowledge which creates order out of chaos. It’s how we learn to step into the flow of the impermanence of it all. Without losing a sense of who we are and what we stand for.
Saraswati and the Peacock
Saraswati’s animals are usually the peacock and the swan. The swan is all white, much like Saraswati’s garments. The white represents purity in the quest for wisdom and artistry. And because Saraswati is commonly seen sitting with swans and peacocks playing her instruments, she is also relevant when we speak of Bhakti Yoga.
The peacock is Saraswati’s main choice for getting around. The peacock is beautiful, brave, and a risk-taker. When a peacock is intent on wooing a peahen, it spreads its tail feathers out big and wide. This puts the peacock at risk of being harmed by any predators because it inhibits the peacock’s ability to see on its periphery. The peacock presents itself to the peahen but has to put itself at risk to do so, but to him, it’s worth it.
We learn that evolving on our path is sometimes risky. We need to put ourselves out there (spread our tail feathers) even if we feel some people may not agree. We learn to say ‘no’ with conviction and stay true to our spoken boundaries. We stop living in the ‘shoulds’ (stop should-ing on yourself) and start moving towards our dreams and goals. We gain knowledge and start to recognize what’s important to our individual self on our individual path, and Saraswati helps us speak with passion, conviction, and wisdom.
How to Work the Power of Goddess Durga into Your Daily Life
My Story with Durga
In recent years I have come to understand my relationship to the goddess Durga as my own fierce commitment to living a joy-filled life. Growing up with alcoholism, I experienced how this devastating illness can literally knock you off your life’s path. Even though I am not a drinker, unforeseen chaos ensued in my life, causing feelings of confusion, shame, and unworthiness.
Through yoga, meditation, and philosophy, I have learned to step more fully into my inner strength, harness my gifts, and go for opportunities in life. The power of consciousness we call Durga is this ability to confront our fears, go to battle with our ego, and stand more upright in worthiness, beauty, and wisdom.
Get to Know the Goddess Durga
Two greedy demons, Shumbha and Nishumbha, have plans to take over the world. These demons have usurped yogic powers undermining Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe. They are yogis and have been through all kinds of rigorous training and certifications. When they appear before Lord Brahma, he gladly offers them the gift of immortality as a gesture of gratitude for all that they have accomplished.
Little does he know that secretly they will begin building their empire. The one caveat to granting immortality, Brahma says, is if a woman challenged and beat them, they would surely perish. The demon brothers laugh at this (their first big mistake) and continue to acquire, consume, ravage, and pillage all for their benefit.
The gods and goddesses notice the devastation and greed are ruining the planet. They suspect the demon brothers have gone too far and taken immediate action to put an end to these dark forces. At once, they pull together to create a powerful prayer to awaken the feminine, a plea that she return to help restore balance. From the center of this prayer circle, Durga rises like a pillar of light, barefoot, and half-naked.
She sits upright on her tiger, with long flowing dark hair. The gods have offered her certain gifts of which she holds in her eight arms: sword, mace, discus, lotus blossom, conch, bow, trident, and shield. She takes these to battle with the dark forces. She is an exquisite warrior goddess: primal, instinctual, sensual, and fierce. She is the divine feminine. She is you.
As you can imagine, this massive light was felt by everyone, including our demons, Shumbha and Nishumbha. They hear stories of Durga’s raw power and extraordinary beauty. They want to consume her for themselves. They obviously don’t understand that the feminine can never be bought, sold, or co-opted without major setbacks. Durga goes to battle, eventually defeating these demon brothers and, with the help of her sister Kali, slays them for good.
When we awaken the energies of Durga, we come face to face with our feelings of doubt, fear, and inhibiting beliefs. It’s the same way we sabotage life and its creative capacities. Durga asks us to affirm life, to say yes to everything, including our shadow. She demands we confront our ego as pride and arrogance, as well as feelings of doubt, fear, and inhibition. In fact, if we are to grow, evolve, and awaken, we must embrace the dark.
Durga’s myth teaches us that when we take up a meditation practice, we wake up the vital life force within us that heals. She teaches us that part of awakening means being willing to confront negativity. Through daily meditation practice, we get an upsurge of energy, which begins to transmute this poison into nectar.