In Tantric literature, one finds three manifestations of Tara such as Eka Jata, Ugra Tara and Nila Saraswathi. Eka Jata is she who provides ‘kaivalya’ or unity with the Absolute; Ugra Tara is she who provides relief from unforeseen severe miseries and Nila Saraswathi is she who imparts jnana to her devotees.
It is said that the sage Vyasha muni accomplished work on the eighteen Mahapuranas by being a Nila Saraswathi sadhak to become all accomplished. Goddess Tara also manifests as Dakshina Kali, Tarini and Ugra Tara standing on a supine image of Lord Siva. Mother is dark blue or blue-black in colour with minimal clothes. She wears a tiger skin, a necklace of corpse’s skull and also a girdle of severed arms. Nilasaraswathi also enjoys blood just like Bhadra Kali. Thus she welcomes blood sacrifice. Worshiped mainly for wealth and poetic skill, She is aggressive and of fearful demeanour. Nilasaraswathi exposes her ability to rescue her devotees from calamities.
DEVI MAHATMYA: Normally Mother Saraswathi is given a benign form as the Goddess of Learning and Wisdom. Her white colour, spotless character, lotus seat, swan vahana, vina instrument, inkpot with pen and books, all point towards a loving goddess and also that of a life giving river. But as the guardian of the earth, Saraswathi takes the form of Durga, to fight the female demon ‘Drug.’ The word dru or dur also means ‘with difficulty’.
Mother Saraswati is in the trinity of Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswathi. Mother is depicted as eight armed. The dhyana shloka given at the 5th chapter of Mahatmya is: “Wielding in her lotus-hands the bell, trident, plough, conch, pestle, discuss, bow and arrow, her luster is like that of a moon shining in the autumn sky. She is born from the body of Gowri and is the sustaining base of the three worlds. That Mahasaraswathi I worship here who destroyed Sumbha and other asuras”.
It is a stated fact that Mother Devi Nilasaraswathi puts her bhaktas to extreme challenges before she blesses and grants siddhis. The society of Tantra practitioners know of the ardent path to be taken to Devi Nilasaraswathi. This can also misfire if proper rituals are not observed. There cannot be a better example than the sage Vashista Muni. The great muni was plucked off several times in this sadhana despite his extreme austerities of many years. So he placed a curse on Tara-mantra. Following Vasishta’s seat below the same Shalmali tree known as Mundamalinitala where the sage performed his sadhana, Vamdeva, the Bhairava of Tarapith also worshiped Nilasaraswathi. This seat was also known as ‘panch-mundi-asan’ of the seat of five skulls.
Devi Nilasaraswathi was not without her boons. Her grants were poesy and eloquent. To the worthy bhakta, Mother Nilasaraswathi grants ‘vak-siddhi’ meaning she resides in the tongue of the bhakta and that explains her name. This means that the bhakta acquires the destructive power of speech giving him or her an upper hand in debates and contests of knowledge. But it would be essential for the upasak to stick to strict rules of Truth at all times and should not use Mother Nilasaraswathi to persist his opinions. There is still a dispute if Mahakavi Kalidas was blessed by Mother Kali in person or through Devi Nila Saraswathi. Her centre is the tongue though Tara primarily relates to the navel chakra.
MERU TANTRA mentions the Sapta Saraswathi as 1. Chintamani Saraswathi, 2. Jnana Saraswathi, 3. Nila Saraswathi, 4. Ghata Saraswathi, 5. Kini Saraswathi, 6. Antariksha Saraswathi and 7. Trikuta Saraswathi.
RIGVEDA: The three Saraswatis are Matangi, Tara and Vina-Sarasvati. The three are the spouses of Ganesh or Matanga Rishi, Brihaspati the Guru of the Gods or Akshobhya Shiva and Brahmanaspati or Brahma, the Creator. Mantra, Vak or speech itself is Shakti, the Goddess as power.
Mantra is more the primal forms as Matangi-Saraswathi. Vak or speech is more Tara-Saraswathi. Formalised language or Sanskrit is more Veena-Saraswathi. The three Saraswathis are important in Hinduism, and also represent the three wisdoms: Paravidya – Highest wisdom or Self-knowledge. Devavidya – Knowledge of the Divinities or the Divine Knowledge. Shastravidya – Knowledge of the Scriptures and Texts, or Science. Modern or Puranic Saraswathi is known as Vina-Saraswathi, and she is the last and lowest of these manifestations.
MAHAVIDYAS: In Tantra, there are Siddhavidyas and Paravidyas. Siddhavidyas are forms of mystical powers and perfection, and the Paravidyas are transcendental forms. These are forms of Mahavidyas. Nilasaraswathi is another form of Mahavidya Tara. There are separate dhyana shlokas and mantras for her worship in Tantrasara.
BRIHAD NILA TANTRA: This Tantra of the Kaula tradition is a source to know more of mother. It contains the Tararahasya, 'Secrets of Tara' of Brahmanda Giri which supplies every information in connection with the worship of Nila Sarasvati. The eleventh chapter of the Tantra describes at length how the Goddess of Wisdom became Nila or blue. The Tantra is written in the form of a dialogue in which Mahakalabhairava appears as the speaker and Mahakali as the listener. In this Tantra the Devi requests Bhairava to reveal the Nilatantra as promised at the time the Kalitantra was revealed. The Bhairava redeems the promise and declares that the Tantra which he is to reveal should be duly preserved and concealed, as that leads to many blessings.
It first deals with Nila-Saraswati-the Sapphire Blue Saraswathi. Here she is Brahma-Shakti or spouse of the Supreme Deity. Lord Dattatreya is the patron guru of the Natha tradition, the other aspects being Vishnu and Mahesh. We are not going to indulge on the Buddhist Tara here. Other names given here are Aniruruddha Saraswathi, Ugra Tara and Tarini. They are links between the White Saraswathi and Nilasaraswathi pointing to the Shakti of the Alphabet, the Matrika Shakti.
Mantra, words, music are considered to be the very source of the cosmos, so Nilasaraswathi has an important role in Tantrik cosmology. As Matrika Shakti, She deludes the entire human race with Her Maya of letters, and words. This has been expressed in a Tantrik form. It is apt to say that Maya reaches the human mind through the medium of words also. Thus the tantric role of Nilasaraswathi is justified. Her mantra is described as Siddha-Vidhya, the cause of Maya. Her bija mantra is ‘Aim’.
TODALA TANTRA; Daily puja of Nila Saraswathi is given in Todala Tantra, The Magic of Kali. It is done in isolated places including cremation grounds. Therefore Nilasaraswathi is bonded with Lord Siva. She is surrounded by jackals and known as Smasana Bhairavi also. There are no rules as to time. In the Maha China Krama, which is Vamachara or left hand tantra, the rule is essentially 'svecchachara' or acting according to one’s will. Meat, wine and sexual union is prominent. This is also given in Mundamala Tantra Tara associated with blood. Partners recite Tara Mantra mentally and there is no external worship as such. The conjunction of yoni and lingam is the essence of the ritual.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(draft Gods, Goddesses, Minor Deities and Sages