Somanathapura Keshava Temple: Dancing Sarasvati

Sarasvati, the goddess of knowledge and learning, mounted on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Sarasvati, the goddess of knowledge and learning

Sarasvati, the goddess of knowledge and learning
Sarasvati is the Hindu goddess of knowledge and learning. In Sanskrit, Sarasvati means one that flows. During the Vedic times, she represented the Sarasvati River, which meandered through the northwest region (present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan) of the Indian sub-continent but dried up more than 3000 years ago. Later texts associated her with Brahma and made her his consort.

The sculpture shown in the image is not a typical representation of Sarasvati. The depictions of Sarasvati with standard iconography show her playing the veena, a sitar-like musical instrument. She is typically shown with two arms and occasionally four, and in this relief, however, she has eight (three of them are missing). Instead of the veena, she holds a tālegari (dried palm leaves) with two of her hands. The tālegari indicates that she is the goddess of knowledge and learning.

It appears from Sarasvati’s stance that she is performing a traditional Indian dance move. Accompanying her are two musicians at the bottom (one of them is missing).

Related Images
Brahma – A sculptural relief carved on the outer wall of the south garbhagriha (inner sanctum)

Related Pages
Hoysala Temples:
Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Badami Chalukya Temples:
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
Durga Temple at Aihole
Vijayanagara Temples:
Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals
Angkor Wat Temples:
Angkor Wat Temple, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Banteay Srei Temple in Cambodia

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