The Divine Lotus Flower: Symbolism And Meaning

July 30, 2017

The Divine Lotus Flower: Symbolism And Meaning

“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled,

so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.”

― Gautama Buddha

Many flowers have held enormous significance for thousands of years across cultures. The lotus is one such flower which dominates many religions. It grows alongside the muddy waters and submerges into the murky water every night and remains undeterred by the dirty environment. Every morning, the flower miraculously re-blooms without any residue on its petals.

Ancient Egyptians symbolize the lotus resurrection with the eternal life and use it in their burial ceremony rituals. The lotus flower acts as a potent reminder of reincarnation and the mysteries of the afterlife.

Although different cultures have their interpretations of this lovely flower, there is a consensus among the ancient texts that the lotus flower symbolizes spiritual enlightenment and rebirth. The flower has stunned people with its ability to dip into the murk and revive itself unscathed which signifies an incredible daily cycle of life, death, and a sudden immaculate rebirth. This process can only be described as a spiritual cycle. The connotation gives us the reason why the lotus is associated with such celestial symbolism.

Lotus as a tattoo

lotus tattoo

Innumerable people believe in getting a lotus flower tattoo done to display their dedication to a Buddhist or Hindu faith. The lotus flower is also a reminder to stay humble and focus on developing inner peace. The tattoo helps in developing a balance in life as the eight petals depict the eight parts of a spiritual path. Also, a pure white lotus flower tattoo or a colorful one, both give out a message of grace and love to all those around.

Significance in Buddhism

lotus buddhism

In Buddhist and Egyptian culture, the flower represents the universe. The Buddhists believe that the Buddha appeared on top of a floating lotus, and his first footsteps on Earth left lotus blossoms.

The Buddhist Lotus represents:

•    Patience

•    Purity

•    Mysticism

•    Direct Spiritual Contact

•    Emptiness from Desire

•    Victory over Attachments

•    Enlightenment and the Bodhi State

•    Love and Compassion for All Things

•    Self-Awareness

•    Faithfulness During Spiritual Development

•    Rising Out of Suffering

 Lotus position

 

lotus position

These above-stated meanings gave birth to the way of sitting, which is also known as the lotus position. In this position, the legs are crossed and tucked in that make the bent knees look like the petals of a lotus. This position is considered essential for most Hindu yoga practices and also in Buddhist meditation.

In this posture, the soles of our feet are tucked away which is a respectful position in temples. The lotus flower forms a vital part in creating mandalas, the spiritual and artistic representations of divine energies and meditation.

Lotus flower colour meaning

lotus color

The color of the lotus flower plays a significant role in Buddhism. A white lotus flower refers to the purity of the mind and the spirit; a red flower refers to compassion and love, a blue lotus flower means common sense and usage of logic and wisdom to reach enlightenment. A pink lotus represents the history of Buddha while a purple flower indicates mysticism and spirituality. The gold lotus flower represents the achievement of enlightenment.

The growth stages of the lotus flower indicate the different stages of enlightenment in Buddhism. While a closed lotus may mean the time before a Buddhist follower finds Buddha or enlightenment, the fully bloomed flower represents self-awareness.

The mud, in which the lotus is born signifies that humans are born in a world full of suffering. The pain makes us stronger and teaches us to resist the temptation of the evil. When we get rid of all the evil thoughts from our mind, we break free from the muddy water and become one with the Buddha. The lotus flower represents rebirth, both in a literal sense and in a figurative sense.

The rebirth can indicate a change of ideas which can be acceptance of Buddha, where we once thought was none and ability to see our past wrong-doings. In the literal sense, the lotus flower in Buddhism denotes reincarnation or rebirth, where a soul leaves the world in its present form to be born in another.

Importance of lotus in Hinduism

brahma

The lotus flower holds immense importance in Hinduism as well. Many Hindu deities are depicted holding the flower in their hands. For instance, Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, is also shown meditating on a lotus. According to the Vedic scriptures or Puranas, Brahma was born from the lotus flower that originated from the navel of Lord Vishnu, the creator of the world.

The flower is considered as a symbol of beauty, prosperity and fertility. According to Hinduism, inside every human is the spirit of Lotus. The Hindu scriptures say that the Atman or the human soul lives in the lotus within the heart. In the great scripture, Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna explains that lotus grows in water, but the petals stay dry. He advises humans to lead a life like a lotus and to fulfill our duties without being distracted by materialism and attachment.

 

Edible and Medicinal Uses of the Lotus Flower

lotus seeds

Besides holding religious importance in various religions and decorating thrones or acting as seats for enlightened beings, the lotus is used for edible and medicinal purposes. The blue lotus family, or Nymphaea, is grown for edible seeds and roots.

The American version of the flower is used as a source of food. In fact, people brew the blue lotus flowers to make a tea with sedative and mild psychotropic effects to heighten their sense of work and to beat insomnia.

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