In the Vedas sarasvati was a water deity, goddess of a river of the same name which flowed west from the Himalayas, through the first Aryan settiements. In early times the river and its goddess were revered for purifymg, fertilising and enriching powers, and for flowing clear into the sea. At present, however, the river peters out in the desert, according to the Mahabharata as the result of a curse pronounced by the sage Utathya when Varuna stole his wife. By depriving Varuna of water for his ocean, he hoped to force the god to return her. The next stage in Sarasvati's mythological history was her identification with the holy rituals performed on her banks; this led to the belief that she influenced the composition of the hymns and thus to her identification with Vach, the goddess of peech. She is said to have invented Sanskrit, language of the Brabmins, of scriptures and of scholarship, and one account says that it was she who discovered soma or amrita in the Himalayas and brought it to the other gods. Vach was at one time credited with very wide powers, accompanying and supporting all the celestial gods. She originated in the ocean and pervaded heaven and earth; she was the power behind all phenomena and mistress of all. Later myths diminish Sarasvati's power. She was said to be identical with Viraj, the female half or being created out of the substance of Purusha or Prajapati, and thus the instrument of creation. Most generally, however, and up to the present day, she is considered to be the creature and consort of Brahma, and is called mother of the Vedas which sprang from his heads. As Brahma's wife she provides the power to execute what Brahma has conceived with his creative intelligence. She is goddess of all the creative arts and in particular of poetry and music, learning and science. She is represented as a graceful woman with white skin, wearing a crescent moon on her brow; she rides a swan or peacock, or is seated on a lotus flower. Sarasvati has a haughty nature and is disputatious. One myth tells that she was originally the wife of Vishnu, along with Lakshmi and Ganga. But Vishnu could not endure their quarrelling, so he gave Sarasvati to Brabma and Ganga to Shiva. On another occasion Sarasvati was too idle to arrive on time for a sacrifice to be performed by Brahma in which his wife had to take part. Btahma sent a messenger to fetch her, but she sent back the message that she was still at her toilet and that he should wait. Brabma was incensed at this reply and asked the assembled gods to provide him with another wife. Gayatri, the daughter of a sage, was offered to him, and he married her immediately and completed the sacrifice. When Sarasvati eventually arrived on the scene, she in turn displayed her fury and cursed Brabma to be worshipped no more than once a year. Henceforth she nevertheless had to accept the presence of Gayatri, but was mollified by the latter's promise to remain always in second place. As befits a goddess who showed scant respect for Brahma, Sarasvati is especially honoured by Jains.