Symbolism and iconography
The goddess Saraswati is often depicted as a beautiful woman dressed in pure white, often seated on a white lotus, which symbolizes light, knowledge and truth. She not only embodies knowledge but also the experience of the highest reality. Her iconography is typically in white themes from dress to flowers to swan the colour symbolizing Sattwa Guna or purity, discrimination for true knowledge, insight and wisdom.
She is generally shown to have four arms, but sometimes just two. When shown with four hands, those hands symbolically mirror her husband Brahmas four heads, representing manas mind, sense, buddhi intellect, reasoning, citta imagination, creativity and ahamkar self consciousness, ego.Brahma represents the abstract, she action and reality.
The four hands hold items with symbolic meaning a pustaka book or script, a mala rosary, garland, a water pot and a musical instrument lute or vina.The book she holds symbolizes the Vedas representing the universal, divine, eternal, and true knowledge as well as all forms of learning. A m?l? of crystals, representing the power of meditation, inner reflection and spirituality. A pot of water represents powers to purify the right from wrong, the clean from unclean, and the essence from the misleading. In some texts, the pot of water is symbolism for soma the drink that liberates and leads to knowledge.The musical instrument, typically a veena, represents all creative arts and sciences,and her holding it symbolizes expressing knowledge that creates harmony.Saraswati is also associated with anur?ga, the love for and rhythm of music, which represents all emotions and feelings expressed in speech or music.