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John Webber - Saraswati

for orchestra

  • wm 200912
    My Image

    John Webber
    for orchestra

  • full score
  • Programme

    Part One
    In the beginning there was chaos. Everything existed in a formless, fluid state. “How do I bring order to this disorder?” wondered Brahma, the creator. “With Knowledge”, said Devi.
    Heralded by a peacock, sacred books in one hand and a veena in the other dressed in white Devi emerged from Brahma’s mouth riding a swan as the goddess Saraswati. “Knowledge helps man find possibilities where once he saw problems.” Said the goddess. Under her tutelage Brahma acquired the ability to sense, think, comprehend and communicate. He began looking upon chaos with eyes of wisdom and thus saw the beautiful potential that lay therein.
    Brahma discovered the melody of mantras in the cacophony of chaos. In his joy he named Saraswati, Vagdevi, goddess of speech and sound.
    The sound of mantras filled the universe with vital energy, or prana. Things began to take shape and the cosmos acquired a structure: the sky dotted with stars rose to form the heavens; the sea sank into the abyss below, the earth stood in between.
    Gods became lords of the celestial spheres; demons ruled the nether regions, humans walked on earth. The sun rose and set, the moon waxed and waned, the tide flowed and ebbed. Seasons changed, seeds germinated, plants bloomed and withered, animals migrated and reproduced as randomness gave way to the rhythm of life. Brahma thus became the creator of the world with Saraswati as his wisdom.
    Saraswati was the first being to come into Brahma’s world. Brahma began to look upon her with eyes of desire. She turned away saying, “All I offer must be used to elevate the spirit, not indulge the senses.” Brahma could not control his amorous thoughts and his infatuation for the lovely goddess grew. He continued to stare at Saraswati. He gave himself four heads facing every direction so that he could always be able to feast his eyes on Saraswati’s beauty.
    Saraswati moved away from Brahma, first taking the form of a cow. Brahma then followed her as a bull. Saraswati then changed into a mare; Brahma gave chase as a horse. Every time Saraswati turned into a bird or a beast he followed her as the corresponding male equivalent. No matter how hard Brahma tried he could not catch Saraswati in any of her forms. The goddess with multiple forms came to be known as Shatarupa. She personified material reality, alluring yet fleeting.
    Brahma, sobered by his encounter with the Lord of terror sought an escape from the maze of his own desire. Saraswati revealed to him the doctrine for his own liberation.
    Part Two:
    The song of the Gandharvas
    The Gandharvas were demigods who sprang from the fragrance of flowers. Once they stole the Soma plant whose inebriating and invigorating sap was much sought after by the devas. The theft of the Soma infuriated all the gods. Saraswati promised to recover the soma plant. She went to the garden of the gandharvas and with her veena created enchanting tunes: the ragas and the raginis.
    “Give us this music,” begged the gandharvas. “Only if you give back the Soma plant to the devas,” said the goddess. The gandharvas returned the Soma plant and learned how to play music from Saraswati. In time they became celestial musicians whose melodies had more power to rouse the mind than any intoxicant.

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