The advent of Saraswati Puja always reminds me of the popularity it has among the school and college going students since my early childhood. I was always eager to see the idols placed in decorative pendals with the odour of incense and brightness of flowers. It was like Devi Saraswati emerging with all whiteness among the fog to remind us of the purity she enjoys in our hearts.
With passage of time and closeness of my grandmother late Dr Nirmalprabha Bardoloi, I got attracted towards the indological research very deeply. Though I am a student of Biotechnology, I always feel inclined towards the deep, mysteries lying around us. Coming back to the topic, I am always fascinated by the different forms and shapes of the idols with numerous hues, colours, symbols to name a few. My grandmother, whom we used to call `Aimoni' is a new name having numerous literary, creative works in addition to three indological treatise on Devi, Shiva and Surya, of which I was the co- author of the last one. Though she is no more, she always told me to prepare materials for a book on Ganesha cult.
I came across a book on Ganesha written by an European author at Centre for Asiatic and Oriental studies, Kolkatta around spring of 2001. It was a small and concise book. There I saw an article on the relation between Ganesha and Matangi, the 9th great wisdom goddess of India. At that very moment, a thought struck my mind, the concept of Matangi and Saraswati, its relation with each other. Matangi was consort of Ganesha in that book, on the other hand, Saraswati was the consort of Brahma and yet outward expression of Matangi. Saraswati is one of the most popular goddesses in entire India with a living tradition of thousand years from the time of Vedas. In fact, one of our great rivers was Saraswati, that disappeared in the golden sands of time. According to Tantra, Kali, Tara, Bhairavi, Saraswati and Matangi resembles in many dimensions. Kali is also Neel Saraswati, Neel Saraswati is also Tara, Saraswati is also Matangi and Matangi is also Saraswati with a darker aspect of Kali.
Saraswati is revered as the Goddess of wisdom, knowledge, music and intellect. On the other hand, like Saraswati, Matangi also plays a vina and rules over music or audible sound in general, not just the spoken word. She is the manifest form of song. She is the vibratory sound, Nada, that flows in the subtle channels, Nadis down through our entire body and mind. Matangi is the form of Saraswati directed towards inner knowledge. She is her dark, mystic, ecstatic or wild form. In fact white lotus is accustomed with Saraswati and Dark blue lotus is close with Matangi. Lotus stands for wisdom in Indian tradition. Saraswati is often a Goddess of only ordinary learning, art and culture. Matangi rules over the beyond ordinary, which takes us across the limits of the conventional. Matangi is an outcast, as she is called Ucchista Chandali who goes against the norms of society, while Saraswati represents the knowledge and virtue of the sanskritised or classical classes which never depart from the propriety. Matangi allied with the transforming energy of Kali foms that portion of Saraswati, which intrigues our mind in finding a comprehensive relation between the fair and darker side. In fact the timing of Saraswati Puja marks the transformation of dark, colder side towards warmer, sunshine.
Though the Dhyana Mantra of Matangi describes about the relation of a daughter to sage Matanga, it actually literally means a thought or an opinion. She is the word as the embodiment of thought. She is the Goddess of the spoken word and of any outward articulation of inner knowledge, including all forms of art, music and dance. As earlier mentioned, Matangi is the last of the three Goddesses who relate to the divine word, the other two being Tara and Bhairavi. Neel Saraswati is the tantric buddhist form of Tara of deep learning and eloquence. Tara stands for illumined word, Bhairavi stands for unmanifest form of speech and Matangi for spoken word. Matangi can also represent the middle form of speech, which governs the ideas that we are putting into words and thereby our thinking process. The highest role of Matangi is that of Para-Vaikhari or the supreme words manifest through audible speech, the truly direct revelation of the highest knowledge in human speech from which all true scriptures and knowledge arises. As such Matangi encompasses all levels of speech.
In our local traditions, we always relate Saraswati to the throat and tongue, the speech, the word. When glancing through the pages of a book on Kundalini Tantra, I came across the Vishuddhi Chakra, the throat chakra of the seven important whorls in our cosmic or ethereal body. Vishuddhi chakra is known as the `purification center'. The Sanskrit word shuddhi means `to purify', and in this chakra the purifying and harmonising of all opposites takes place. Also called as `nectar and poison center', here the nectar which drips down from Bindu Visarga is said to be split into the pure form and the poison. The poison is discarded and the pure nectar then nourishes the body and mind. Like the Swan, which can differentiate the milk mixed with water, likewise this Chakra can differentiate the range of purity. Matangi resides in the throat chakra, the center of speech. Speech is the audible perception of the alphabets arranged in a certain manner. The sixteen petals of the Vishuddhi chakra has one Sanskrit vowel (A to Ah) in each petal. In the pericarp of this lotus is a circle which is white like the full moon, representing the element of akasha. Within this moon shape is a snow white elephant, also symbolic of the akasha element. By meditation on Vishuddhi chakra, the mind becomes pure like akasha. The elephant that resides in the Throat chakra resembles Ganesha with a special relation with Matangi, the darker side of Saraswati. Matangi also resides on the tip of the tounge, the place wherein speech is articulated and wherein we are able to taste the essences of things. Along with Ida, Pingala and Sushumna, there is a special nerve or channel of the subtle body called Saraswati that runs from the Third Eye to the tip of the tounge, which relates to her. This is the stream of inspiration from the mind to its expression through speech. The divinity, the creativity gets crystallized when Matangi flows through this channel as bliss or Sat chit ananda.
The seed syllable of Saraswati and Matangi is the same i.e. Aim. It is seed syllable of wisdom, learning, teaching and inner voice of the eternal guide. The meditational approaches of Matangi is quite familiar with the emergence of Saraswati, the goddess of alphabets, words and speech. Chanting of vowels from the Throat Chakra to the Root Chakra i.e. Mooladhara through all the alphabets is like the emergence of gross matters from pure essence, the akasha, the space nature of throat. The essence of purity is Saraswati, the consort of Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe. Though Throat Chakra is silvery white, its ruling deity is Sadashiva and Matangi, the darker side of Saraswati. The essence of deeper side in all the creatures, in all the gross matters of this universe.
The black and white sketches on a canvas always have an appealing side in the inquisitive eyes. It always have a deep impact on our life, our essence. Saraswati, the whiter part is itself the words and thoughts. Matangi, the darker side in her transcendent meaning is the silence of the self nature, which is the real essence and power behind all words and thoughts. Matangi is the next step of Sarswati, the speech and art energised towards transcendence, to obtain the ultimate goal, the bliss, the Sat Chit Ananda or verily called Nirvana.