Can I Be Every Woman? Breakfast with Saraswati and Lakshmi

Breakfast, in our world, is rarely just french toast and scrambled eggs.

Although sometimes, I wish it could be.

Today, for example, it was Saraswati and Brahma, with a side of Lakshmi and Vishnu. Black coffee with sugar for him, decaf herbal tea for me.

Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, has always been my inspiration. My guiding light in pursuing my deepest purpose and exploring the passions of my intellect. My unquenchable desire for learning, the perfectionism toward eloquence in my words. The feeling that as long as I’m continuing to learn and write and teach and share, my world is overflowing with abundance and lacking for nothing. Often, it has meant that I spend my days alone, in peacefully reverent introversion, devoted to my work. Like Saraswati in her fateful relationship with Brahma, I can’t be bothered to shower lovers with my unbridled energy if it means giving up the sacred dreams that move through me in work, words and knowledge manifest. For abandoning my dreams would be nothing short of a slap in the face to Saraswati and the gifts of knowledge she has bestowed upon me. I’ve always believed that partnership is meaningful when it helps us both move closer to realizing the spiritual purpose of our soul’s work here on Earth. So when I find myself sacrificing my work to dote lovingly on my man and the needs of maintaining our home, my sense of self-worth suffers and feminist resentment builds deep inside me, as if Saraswati had whispered sweetly in my ear: ‘what the fuck are you doing with your life?’

The intellectual, the knowledge-seeker, the wordsmith, forever the student and more frequently now, the teacher. Saraswati energy is what I believe I was born with, my innate gifts to develop and share with the world. It is an honor and a blessing to experience my work as connected to such a divinely powerful goddess and the wisdom she carries in the grace of her infinite presence. In the humility of gratitude, I bow to this insatiable quest for knowledge in action.

While my Saraswati side comes easy, as if effortless, it’s the Lakshmi in me that I seek to cultivate, reminding me that savoring the experience of the present in loving partnership and deep, soulful connection are also dreams I wish to realize in this lifetime. That it isn’t all work, work, work. That joy and plenitude live in the being. here. now.

I recall a former lover’s words, still heavy in my heart: ‘You know, if you could just relax, you’d be a lot easier to be around.’ It was hard to hear when he said it five years ago. And it’s still hard to hear, today. Mostly because he’s right. And that’s not easy to admit.

Relax. Just be. Easy to be around. Hmmm. Yeah, that’d be nice.

Lakshmi is the epitome of that relaxing. That contentment in presence. And she doesn’t come naturally to me. Not with all the doing and thinking stirring Saraswati in my insides. That relaxing is often a chore. I see Lakshmi and she makes it look so breezy. And her man is so satisfied just by having her by his side. She rewards her lover Vishnu with her divine gifts of contentment and care, and in the presence of her love, he is wanting for nothing. Lakshmi, you bountiful minx, how can I live a little more like you?

By the grace of divine intervention, and the will to follow my heart despite the earthly obstacles before us, I’ve been blessed with the strong and protective presence of a man whose gaze speaks histories already written in time, and tells of futures all our own to create together. His warmth and affection are a dream to behold; his lessons often ruthless in ego-slaying storms of emotion. My devotion to our union is unwavering. To me, he is love incarnate; it’s as simple as that. And I want to love him, and satisfy him, forever. Or at least as long as he lets me.

As the epic story goes, Saraswati refused to set her dreams aside to cater to her lover Brahma’s emotional needs. Eventually, he tired of her not prioritizing him above her own work, and sought love elsewhere, where his needs for devotion and a more doting lover were fulfilled. Unwilling to abandon her passions, Saraswati remained on her own, joyfully married to her work, instead. She loved Brahma deeply, but his needs entailed a sacrifice she was unwilling to make to keep him by her side.

Faced with a choice like that, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’d choose the same. Saraswati couldn’t live with herself if she abandoned her gifts and dreams for a man. And neither could I.

And that’s what scares me the most.

When I pour myself into my work, I often fear that my lover will tire of not being the absolute center of my universe, like Brahma did, leaving Saraswati to her own contented being as he sought a lover who could better fulfill his need for devotion above all else. It scares me because I aspire so deeply to be both. To be every possible woman living and breathing in me. To have it all – my dreams, my thirst for knowledge, my work shared with the world, a beautiful relationship with the man I choose to love. To honor the Saraswati in my nature, and nurture the Lakshmi lurking in the depths of my desire for spiritual union and lifelong partnership. Is it too much to ask? Will I have to choose? It’s the question that plagues my headspace and keeps me up howling with the moon.

And even the waitress at the cafe where we sat sharing breakfast this morning started looking a little bit like Lakshmi, and my heart sank as I watched her catch my lover’s eye as she placed his coffee dotingly before him, with three sugars, just like he likes it. I never make him coffee. And I think he should eat less sugar.

“Do you want to hear a story about Saraswati and Lakshmi?” I asked him between bites of scrambled egg.

He raised an eyebrow and shrugged his shoulders up, like ‘Sure, why not?’

So I told him an abbreviated version and tried to make it sound like I wasn’t talking about me. And as soon as I finished, he swallowed his last sip of too-sweet coffee and smiled.

“Don’t worry,” he said, reaching an arm around my shoulder to draw me closer to his heart. “You are a perfect balance of both. And I would never want it any other way.”

I laughed and let him hold me.

Maybe it was my imagination, but that next bite of french toast somehow tasted just a little bit sweeter.

 

 

 

 

Tara is a surfer, writer, activist and PhD candidate specializing in sustainable surf tourism. She facilitates workshops, writing circles and educational surf trips with soul in Central America. Read her work at www.tarantulasurf.com / @tarantulasurf

4 replies
  1. tarantulasurf
    tarantulasurf says:

    wow! this is an incredible comment, Rajeevan. It points to the wide cultural divide between us, and the discrepancies that exist between our different ways of knowing and experiencing the world. I can only understand the stories of Lakshmi and Saraswati and the spiritual wisdom behind them from my experience as a Western woman, which I imagine leaves much to be desired from a man like you who has perhaps lived and breathed these truths for eons longer than I. I am weary of cultural appropriation wherever it happens, and wonder if this story triggered something in you related to the ways you perceive that your culture may be being lost to the profanization by the modern world of everything sacred in yours?

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  2. rajeevan2007
    rajeevan2007 says:

    Hi Sister Tara,
    I have lived with an Enlightetedn Master in KEral, India for five years and served Him day and night in His Ashram cleaning Gou shal (cow shed), helping in ashram kitchen and ashram agricultural fields and teahing yoga in between for almost 8 years.
    Visit my Guru’s ashram wensite https://www.srikondevoor.org
    My Gurus’ s name is Sri Sri Yogananda Saraswathi.
    The name Saraswathi is already there in my Guru’s name!!
    Visit our ashram in KErala and live there for some time and do seva and get directions from our Guru and THEN and Then only you can also get vision of Mother Saraswathi or MotherLakshmi.
    Even My Master got the vision of Goddess Lakshmi only once in His life time! Even after serving Him 8 years I did not get such a vision once! Having Break fast will be a BLUNTER!!!
    I am not discouraging you or anyone. But it needs complete observances of all YAMA and NIYAMA of Ashrtanga Yoga for a a period of 15 years atleast!! With Intense meditation!!
    Wish you Good Luck!!
    Hari Om!
    Dr. Rajeevan Moothal.

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  3. karamichelle
    karamichelle says:

    I absolutely loved reading this, thank you so much for sharing and for expressing your fears and vulnerability. I think it is a very common feeling for women to have, especially those who are passionate and want to pursue their dreams. Society and media have created this construct that a woman has to be at home or preparing things for the man, and it always seems like if she doesn’t “keep him happy” he will leave. But what about our happiness?!!
    We seem to have lost the balance – where relationships are mutual and both partners are having the opportunity to do what they love, be happy, and be comfortable with each other.
    Although I have never been in a long-term relationship, I know one of my fears is that I won’t find someone who understands me and my passions… that I will find someone I connect with but they will want to tie me down (so to speak) and I’ll lose the ability to chase my dreams through travel and through experiencing the world. I just keep hoping and envisioning that someday I will find someone that is the right fit, who has similar passions so we can pursue them together.
    So although I am in a different situation than you are I still found this extremely relevant and could relate!! And I love that your partner accepts and loves you for who you are – and that he let you know!! What a beautiful ending to the story <3 <3

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