xv. The Swan-Goose of Eternity

Each year pilgrims descend on Pushkar in Rajasthan, one of Northern India's greatest centres of pilgrimage. The main temple is dedicated to Brahma, the creator god. He is said to have emerged from a cosmic egg laid by Hamsa, the swan-goose, responsible, like Ancient Egypt's Great Cackler, for creating the divine sound that brought the universe into being. Brahma rides on a sky-car pulled by seven swans, while the swan-goose is also the avatar of his wife Saraswati, the goddess of music, writing and divine inspiration. She is the personification of what was once India's most sacred river, the Saraswati, which rose in the foothills of the Himalayas in southwest Tibet. Just like the Ganges today, it was seen as a terrestrial representation of the Milky Way, linking Saraswati with Egypt's sky-goddess, Nut.

Saraswati was goddess also of the Rig Veda, the oldest body of literature in the Orient, which can be traced to a mysterious civilization that inhabited the Saraswati Valley in West India c. 3300-1900 BC. They are known to have been a shamanic based society, which almost certainly used trance states, and Soma, the drug of enlightenment, to obtain otherworldly information. This might have included the writing of the Vedas, as well as knowledge of Kalahamsa, the Swan-Goose of Eternity, the form of Brahma who brought the universe into manifestation.

In ancient Vedic astronomy Hamsa, the swan-goose, was associated with the stars of Cygnus, demonstrating once more that shamanic based cultures throughout the world saw this constellation, located on the Milky Way, as the point of creation in the universe. Yet exactly how old was this belief? To help answer this question, we move now to China where we discover an ancient astronomy 17,000 years old.

Saraswati on her swan vehicle.