Saraswati literally means “one who gives the essence (sara) of our own Self (swa).” She sits on a swan, and carries a veena (a string instrument).
"Puja" means worship, with flower offerings.
Devi Saraswati is the Mother of Learning.
Music is the highest art, the distilled essence of all knowledge, which is self-knowledge. Self-effacing devotion, expressed in heart's melody, in a prayer to Devi Saraswati, is accompanied by Divine vision.
In Carnatic music (i.e. the south Indian classical tradition), one of the first songs learnt is “Varaveena”, a prayer, in Sanskrit, a song of adoration to Saraswati, compsed by Appaya Dikshitar (1554-1626), a scholar, sage and saint.
Varaveena mrudu paani
Vanaruha lochana raani
Suruchira bambhara veni
Nirupama shubha guna lola
Nirathi jaya prada sheela
Vaanchita phala daayaki
Jaya jaya jaya
You hold the divine veena in your soft hands.
You are the queen of the omniscient. Your eyes are like the lotus petals.
Your curly tresses resemble the bees.
Devas worship your auspicious form.
You have unequalled virtuous qualities.
You give endless victory.
You are the munificent consort of the Beautiful Lord.
You grant boons to the deprived.
O Mother of lotus-seated Creator!
Victory to you!
This song is set in Mohanam raga, which is Bhopali raga in the Hindusthani or north Indian classical system.
Shivkumar Kalyanaraman is a professor of computer science in the USA. His website is also a treasure trove of resources on Carnatic music. He has provided the musical notations for this song, as well as an MP3 recording of a teaching of this song.
Thank you Shivkumar, and may Mother Saraswati’s blessings be always with you.
Another prayer in Sanskrit to Saraswati is Yakundendu Tushara.
Yaakundendu tushara haara dhavaLa
Yaa shubhra vastraanvitaa
Yaa veeNa vara danda mandita karaa
Yaa shevta padmaasana;
Yaa brahma achyuta shankara prabhritibhir;
Devai sadaa vandita
Saamaam paatuh Saraswati bhagavati
Goddess Saraswati is 'all white'; Wearing a garland of kunda flowers, one who is as white as the moon snow, who is clad in white attire and is seated on a white lotus; two of her hands adorn the veena, while other two are poised to bless and set right accordingly; one who is always worshiped by the Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh) and other Gods; I pay my obeisance to goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of learning, I pray to thee, bless me with knowledge, seize my lethargy, ignorance and inertia.