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Chapter Summary

The name Sarasvatī evokes images of the beautiful vῑṇā-playing goddess of knowledge and recalls an ancient river that is now believed to flow underground, meeting the Gaṅgā and the Yamunā at the sacred confluence of Triveṇī at Prayāga/Allahabad. This is the introductory chapter of the book, which traces the development of Sarasvatī from her riverine origins as depicted in the earliest textual source on the goddess, the Ṛg Veda composed sometime after 1750 B.C.E., through to her establishment as the deity of all forms of knowledge in epic and early Puranic sources, as well as in the oldest surviving Hindu, Jain, and possibly Buddhist images, to the goddess's depiction in the most significant Buddhist source on Sarasvatī, the Sutra of Golden Light, whose earliest extant redaction is from the beginning of the fifth century.

Keywords: Ṛg Veda; Buddhist images; Sarasvatī



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