The Divine Bloom
It represents purity, divinity and faith. The blossom standing above the muddy waters, its grace unparalleled as it opens its delicate petals to the shining rays of the sun. Faultless in its beauty and elegant in its bloom, the lotus flower holds an all important place in the hearts of followers of Hinduism, not just as a sacred flower but as a spiritual symbol too.
Flowers play a prominent role in Hindu religious rituals and practices be it in weddings or as offerings to Gods and Goddesses. From elaborate garlands to petal showers, worship of our Lords are incomplete without the sprinkle of flowers. Among the many flowers and florets that find their place at the feet of our divine idols, the most revered is the sublime lotus. Scriptures suggest thousands of years of association of the flower with Hindu religion. Our mythology, epics, vedas, inscriptions, literature, sculptures, temple carvings, architecture, paintings and murals – all stand testimony to the prominence the lotus had in our religious history.
Bhagavad Gita inspires humans to be like the lotus plant. To work without attachment, dedicate their actions to God and to remain untouched by sin like the lotus leaf. In Hatha yoga, the lotus position known as the ‘padmasana’, is adopted by those striving to reach spiritual awakening. According to Hindu scriptures, the Atman or the soul lives in the lotus which lies within the centre of the spiritual heart. Mahanarayana Upanishad says, “In the citadel of the body, there is the small, sinless and pure lotus of the heart which is the residence of the Supreme. In the interior of this tiny area is the sorrow less space of light”. It is this light that humans are in search for in their quest to attain moksha or enlightenment. In the Atharva Veda, the human heart is compared to the lotus flower.
Legends in Hinduism describe that the lotus arose from the navel of God Vishnu, and at the centre of the flower sat Brahma. Myths narrate of the world born through a ‘Golden Lotus’ and of Padmakalpa, the Lotus Age in the Padmapurana. The Trimurthis – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are all associated with this plant. Goddess Lakshmi, is depicted in pictures as sitting on a pink lotus holding the flower in her right hand. Goddess Durga, was garlanded with lotus flowers by Varuna, while Goddess of Wisdom, Saraswati sits reclined on a white lotus. In the impressions of God and Goddess, the lotus is often depicted as their sacred seat. They are also seen as holding a lotus flower in their hands. The lotus is thus the holiest, serving the divine with purity and piety.
Hardly any flower has found such prominence in legends, not only in Hinduism but also in Buddhism and Jainism, as the lotus. The three religions have many fascinating stories related to the flower. The blossoming of the lotus flower symbolizes enlightenment through strength and conviction. The circumstances from which a beautiful life sprouts are not always perfect; it maybe muddy and marshy. But that doesn’t deter the lotus. It springs from the dirt, fights its way through challenges and flowers in the radiant sun. The majestic lotus, shares this life lesson with us – rise and overcome the darkness around; one day you will bloom, beautiful and strong than ever before.