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Significance and symbolism of Hamsa or Swan the Vehicle of Hindu Goddess Saraswati

Hamsa, or Swan, is the vehicle of Hindu Goddess Saraswathi. In Hinduism, Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, learning and art. Interestingly, a Hindu saint who rises above the thoughts of death and birth and constantly meditates on Brahman is referred as Parama Hamsa.

Swan symbolizes knowledge and self realization.

A famous shloka on Hamsa talks about the symbolism and significance of this majestic bird.

'Oh! Hamsa! Being the auspicious vehicle of Goddess Saraswathi, you carry learning and art upon your shoulders. Give us that discriminating wisdom for which you are famous, such as your proverbial ability to separate the substance of milk from water.'

Swan can glide on water without getting its feathers wet. With the help of Brahman knowledge (the knowledge all animate and inanimate is the Supreme Truth - there is only God) we can live in the materialistic world without accumulating dusts of materialism.

Swan can also soar up into the sky from the water body. This symbolizes the need to easily rise above earthly ties. A true yogi needs to perfect these two qualities.

But the greatest quality of Swan is its capacity to separate milk from water. With Brahman knowledge, a person is capable of adapting this quality of Swan and it will help him to swim across the ocean of 'Samsara.' This quality symbolizes the power of discrimination.

The white color of the swan is also the symbol of excellence. In Hindu mythology, the white colored Hamsa, the vehicle of Goddess Saraswathi, lives in the Manasarovar Lake near the Kailash Mountain. In Hindu tradition, the bird is mute and its diet consists of pearls.