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.
Ridding Your Negative Personal Narratives With Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva is a well-known and worshipped Hindu deity. He is one of the Holy Trinity (the Trimurti), which consists of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva. What each represents in our familiar terms are brand new beginnings (Brahma), the middle of everything in existence (Vishnu), and the endings (Shiva). When Shiva, as the Lord of Dissolution, gives us the endings, he also provides the space for Brahma to instill a bright new beginning. It is from the void of nothingness, or space, left after something comes to an end, that Brahma responds by bringing the start of something new.
Shiva, Lord of Dissolution
Shiva, The Auspicious One, is also known as Mahadeva or The Great God. He is worshipped as the Supreme Being in Shaivism, a major institution within Hinduism. I like to explain the concept of endings giving way to brighter new beginnings with the metaphor of a bookshelf filled with storybooks that represent our own considerations about ourselves.
Imagine you have a large bookshelf in your mind. The bookshelf is jam-packed with books whose titles represent your own self-judgments or concepts of yourself. One thing to mention is that we are constantly in judgment of ourselves. We are usually in judgment of something and judgments can be good or bad. For instance, we might see a book entitled ‘I am a great Mother,’ or ‘I am a giving person.’
Conversely, we have the debilitating narratives. ‘I am unworthy’ or ‘I am not flexible enough’ as some of the titles we’re experiencing. But the debilitating narratives are simply opportunities to grow or bring Shiva into our lives.
Shiva comes along as the Lord of Dissolution; he shows us where we are hindering our growth with certain stories or ways of being. For instance, when you decide you are fed up with thinking of yourself as unworthy, or not good enough, Shiva gives you the willpower to dissolve that story. The ‘I am unworthy’ book gets removed from the shelf and thrown to the wayside.
What is left behind is an open space, an open space ready and willing to house a new book with a new title. Brahma steps in and gives us the capacity to formulate a new storybook title that feels brighter and shinier as a new beginning, or judgment of self. For example, we switch from the ‘I am unworthy’ mantra to ‘I am good enough.’ In this way, Shiva and Brahma give us the ability to challenge our belief system and change it for self-betterment.
Shiva, Lord of Dance
A common depiction of Shiva is one of a dancing four-armed deity. In this form, Shiva is known as Nataraja, or the Lord of Dance. He is seen dancing in a halo of fire which represents samsara, or ‘flowing around.’ In his upper right hand, Shiva holds a hand drum said to have drummed the first drum beats to help create everything, paired with the sound of “Om.”
His upper left hand holds a flame said to have the ability to destroy on behalf of transformative new beginnings. His bottom lower right hand holds abhayamudra, a gesture used to convey fearlessness. His bottom left hand mimics the lifted position of his left leg. This symbolizes a respite soul’s find from the earthly troubles on a path towards soul liberation. His lifted left leg is a journey towards this elevated consciousness. Finally, the snake he wears around his waist is the creative energy that exists in our psychic body.