Divine incarnations take place when dharma declines and evil raises its head, or when the good are to be protected from the vicious grip of the wicked.

The Supreme Brahman’s incarnations thus help to bridge the gap between Him and the ordinary beings, who get a chance to interact with Him (if they happen to live contemporaneously) or know about His descent to the earth from scriptures and sacred texts such as the itihasas and the puranas. The celestial beings also are born time and again due to certain compulsions and to assist the Supreme Brahman in His task of maintenance of the universe.

It was sage Durvasa’s curse to Goddess Saraswati to be born as a human being that brought in its wake a series of events leading to the establishment of the Sarada temple at Sringeri, pointed out Sri K. Ramamurthy in a lecture.

Saraswati noticed a slight slip in the recital of sage Durvasa and smiled most inadvertently inviting the wrath of the sage.

On many occasions, the curse of realised souls turns into a blessing for humanity. In this instance also, the sage decreed that this curse would be redeemed when Saraswati in human form meets Siva face to face.

Goddess of learning

Saraswati was born as Bharati and being the very incarnation of the goddess of learning was well versed in all the fine arts and accomplished in the nuances of scriptural scholarship as well.

She married Mandana Misra, the foremost disciple of Kumarila, the famed Vedic scholar who believed in the authority of the scriptures. Kumarila advised Adi Sankara to meet Mandana Misra and make him his disciple as he would be able to explain and interpret Sankara’s commentaries. Adi Sankara met Misra and a verbal duel ensued with Bharati as the mediator.

Bharati realised that Adi Sankara was none other than Siva, and that her time on earth had come to an end. But at the request of Adi Sankara she willed to stay in Sringeri as Saradambal.

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