When the world was first created by Lord Brahma, there was chaos. Everything existed in an amorphous form, fluid state, and in state of confusion. The whole lot was formless and shrouded in ignorance. Brahma was startled and didn’t know how to restore its order. But then like a dawn of awareness, that dispel the darkness of ignorance with luminous rays of perception, goddess Saraswati appeared in front of him and said, “Knowledge helps man find possibilities where once he saw problems.” As Lord Brahma heard the word wisdom, he acquired the ability to sense, think, comprehend and communicate. He then gained potential to clear the chaos and he discovered the melody of mantras in the cacophony of chaos. The sound of mantras filled the universe with vital energy. Things began to take shape and the cosmos acquired a structure: the sky dotted with stars rose to form the heavens; the sea sank into the abyss below, the earth stood in between. Therefore, he named Saraswati as Goddess of Wisdom; though latter, he got infatuated towards her but only to get himself cursed. That is what the Hindu mythology says
Saraswati Puja is observed on the fifth day after the no moon night in the Hindu month of Magh. It is believed that of Goddess Saraswati was born on this day. All the Hindu devotees in general and, students & children in particular celebrate it luxuriously and generously particular in India.
I already experienced two such celebrations and it was third occasion this year. In our college, it is the students, who initiated and coordinated the programmes and proceedings. They collected money from others, contributed themselves, got donation from the businessperson, the professors, the day labours, their seniors and what not even from beggars if they wish to spare their single penny in name of God. This time the day falls on 8th February but preparations were done the day before. One thing is peculiar here. They do everything at the eleventh hour, and so did this time. They erected a post for stretching the temple; they decorated the gates and surroundings. They have already bought the statue and it was installed in the temporary but well decorated temple. Everything was decorated with lights and colour, an enthralling culture and tradition of India, so when I was back from the gate after taking a tea, I found our hostel amid lights. They contributed relentless efforts and slept no night. There was nothing I could do and indeed, fellow students were generous enough to deprive us from work, but the night was not peaceful for sleeping.
So came February 8th. The students gathered by the temple. Professors were invited and finally, when the priest came at 11:00am, it was already time for commencing the religious chants and prayers. When it was done, Prasadi (a combination of sweets, fruits etc..., which they prepare and consider sacred) were distributed among the invited guests and other visitors. Folks poured in hundreds. They visited the temple prayed to the Goddess and left. I too visited the temple, viewed the statue with concentration. ‘God have a universal language. Gods are all same. Only difference is they exhibit in different form and style.’ This was my notion. As dusk doomed the day, the lights of different colours illuminated the entire surrounding. Gradually the soothing melodies of religious chant shifted to irksome Bollywood songs, which latter was replaced by the local Bhojpuri/Nagpuri. The student then joined their hands and rocked the open stage with their rhythmic local choreograph. In some ways, it resembles the Bhutanese Folk dance, and getting along with them gave me a homely feel.
Then came 9th February. Indeed, it was day of destruction from my point of view. They invested a huge amount in buying the statue (costing more than Rs. 10,000). The decorative items were expensive but as the evening approach, papers reached every corner, the plastics flew like kites in air, and the campus got totally messed up with litter. If they have a courtesy to collect the decorative items and make use during other occasions, it would mean an economic use, but forget it, India is not a poor country after all. The absurdity lies here now. The statue instead of placing somewhere permanently, it was loaded in a farm tractor, and like a parade, with students singing and dancing, they take it all the way to the nearby stagnant pond. Then to the Goddess, they paid homage, they expressed their gratitude, they prayed for more wisdom, and seek blessings, but finally the statue was immersed into that same pond where the local sewage pours, where the pigs swim, where the kids defecate, thus in the muddy pond, the Goddess of Wisdom sunk.
It was 10:00pm when I nearly finished this short description. Unlike the previous nights and other normal nights, I felt a sensation of complete peace. So silent it was, without any noise from the nearby locality as well. It seems that the fellow students were slept as well due to their tireless efforts. I walked out of my room to the roof of my hostel. I stared up in the sky. The crescent moon was on its way to the other world, and the twinkling stars dominated the entire sky. Amidst the stars, I could visualize my God of Wisdom, Jetsun Jampel Yang (Manjushri) and Goddess of Wisdom, Yanchen Lhamo. I then closed my eyes, folded my hand and prayed that all sentient beings be free from ignorance and illusion, that they be blessed with limitless wisdom so that when the sun rise and set, when moon wax and wane, when waves flow and ebb, man shall utilize its wisdom for the welfare of all beings.