This depiction of the Hindu Goddess Sarasvati is traditional in its elements, less so in the colors and style, especially of her sari (clothing). She is usually painted with white skin and white clothing to represent the light and purity of knowledge, seen as the antithesis of the dark, of ignorance.
She sits upon the lotus flower, an eastern symbol of peace and tranquillity. The objects she holds in her hands, mala beads, a book, and the vina, a classical Indian instrument represent knowledge in the spiritual sciences, secular sciences, and the arts. The peacock at her right symbolizes the temptations of ignorance, material and otherwise. The swan at her left is another symbol of purity.
It is believed that one must approach learning in stages, beginning with the most fundamental wisdom needed to negotiate the material plane. In the Upanishads it is said: “we must first overcome hunger and thirst by gaining knowledge in the secular sciences before being able to be wise in the spiritual sciences.”
Sarasvati, also known as ‘the flowing one’, is the consort of Brahma the Creator. Brahma is a Hindu God belonging to the Hindu Trinity with Vishnu and Shiva. As his consort she is considered to be mother of all, the procreatrix (procreator). As consort she is Brahma’s sakti: she is the source of his power. She is wise and full of grace, and is the personification of all knowledge.