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Vasant panchami : Time of Initiation aligned to your purpose

Vasant panchami : Time of Initiation aligned to your purpose

The fifth day of Magha (माघ), which is the eleventh month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, is celebrated as Vasanta Panchami (वसंत पंचमी). On this day in major parts of India, people worship Goddess Saraswati – Goddess of Knowledge. The way to Knowledge (Gyana -ज्ञान) lies in curbing the desires and material pleasures of life as righty reflected in the practice of the Brahmacharya Ashram (ब्रह्मचर्य आश्रम) by young people desirous of acquiring vidya (विद्या), jnana (ज्ञान) or Knowledge. Obtaining Vidya or Knowledge is sadhana (साधना: practice) according to the ancient teachers, and this sadhana or practice needed some prerequisite. Rightly so, in Brahmacharya ashram, it was ensured that the students were initiated into learning with simple living, away from experiences of desire, lust and material comfort.

According to one of the stories associated with Vasant Panchami, it was the day when Kamadeva (कामदेव) was burnt by Lord Shiva's (शिव) third eye.

According to a legend, on this day, seers/rishis (ऋषि) approached Kamadeva to help them awaken Lord shiva from his yogic meditation as they wanted Parvati (पार्वती) to domesticate Shiva and have a child with him. The child Karthik (कार्तिक) thus born would kill Tarkasur (तारकासुर) the demon.

So Kamadeva, the Lord of desires (ratikanta -रतिकांत) agrees to rishi's requests and uses his Sugarcane bow and his arrows made of five flowers and bees and shoots at Shiva. Lord Shiva awakens from his yogic meditation, and his third eye opens and is directed to Kamadeva. Kamadeva is reduced to ashes.

The killing of Kamadeva is symbolic of the killing of desires and lust. When we control our cravings and material hunger, we set the stage for Jnana Yoga( opening the third eye).

Vasant ritu ( वसंत ऋतु) and Kamadeva are associates, so with the onset of Vasant, Kamadeva is around. Hence Vagdevi (वागदेवी - goddess of learning - another name of goddess Saraswati) comes at the right time to give a sense of balance to the social and individual life.

It signifies that for any society or individual to be in equilibrium and harmony, there must be a balance of Knowledge and awareness versus lust and desires.
Lust and desires are needed to propagate humankind and society, and so rightly in many stories, Kamadeva is the son of Brahma (ब्रह्मा ) born out of his mind. So Brahma, the creator, had a specific purpose to fulfil through manasija (मनसिज - one who is born out of mind which is another name for Kamdeva); the apparent purpose of growing the world (shristi - सृष्टि) created by Brahma. Shristi or this world also needs vidya to balance and control the entropy arising out of the dominance of Kamadeva's action, so comes the purpose of Saraswati. Some scriptures indicate that Goddess Saraswati was born on this day.

Vasant Panchami is also known as Madana Panchami (मदन पंचमी) or Madan-utsav (मदनोत्सव).  Madan (the intoxicating ) is another name for Kamadeva. So, Goddess Saraswati and Kamadeva come together in this period for the purpose of harmony. Interestingly, for most Indians, Vasant Panchami is considered a very auspicious day for marriage and for initiating a child into education (Akshara abhyasam -अक्षर अभ्यासम). So either you intoxicate your mind with the happiness of a new relationship or intoxicate with the illuminating and pious Vidya (education, Knowledge) depending on which stage of life you are in; it's a sacred day of initiation.