The lotus flower may not seem much to most of us at a first glance. It's just a pretty flower with pink or white petals and a beautiful symmetry. But beyond and beneath this exterior beauty lies a striking history that dates back to the earliest times.
The flower has often been deemed symbolic according to several Eastern cultures and almost a large part of the globe deems it sacred. But what is so special about the lotus flower?
Well, to understand that you need to delve deeper into the lotus flower meaning which by no means is simple. First, let's discuss the lifecycle of a regular lotus flower. This itself is its most unique quality, which defines it and separates it from other plants of its kind.
The lotus plant has its root merged deep into the mud and you will often find submerged in several water bodies like rivers, ponds, and bogs, among others. The unique aspect is that the lotus blooms beautifully every morning, and it is immaculate, to say the least!
According to several cultures, this process of the lotus re-bloom symbolizes one of the biggest aspects related to rebirth. It also plays a crucial role in reestablishing the meaning of being spiritually enlightened. With the continued lifecycle involving both mortality, life, and a sudden emergence, it certainly makes sense why lotus is deemed auspicious and a sign of rebirth.
Thanks to these many meanings, several individuals often compare lotus to divinity and this is uniquely common in several cultures across the globe. For instance, the Egyptians consider this flower to be a sign of the universe. Again, the Hindus believe that their greatest gods and goddesses used to have their thrones made from a lotus flower.
And finally, in Buddhist cultures, it is believed that the first appearance of Lord Buddha was before a floating lotus. The same applies to his footsteps that are said to have emerged from the blossom of the lotus.
In this article, we will learn more about the lotus flower's meaning and the many connotations that come with it.
History Of The Lotus Flower
Now that you have a brief idea about the meaning of the Lotus flower, let's take a closer look into its history, origination, and roots.
The history of the Lotus flower dates back several thousand years. The flower originates from parts of Southeast Asia, where you will find it abundantly. Additionally, you will also find it in some parts of Australia. The striking aspect behind this origin and history is the fact that the flower has been also referred to in Egyptian and Greek cultures. In Egypt, perhaps the biggest traces of the Lotus were found in their natural hieroglyphics. In Greece, on the other hand, it was recounted in several folklores.
According to the statement provided by an Assistant professor from Colorado Steven (Ph.D., religion), regardless of the presence of lotus in almost all cultures, it is perhaps most abundantly referred to and used in both the Buddhist and the Jain culture. In the Eastern part, the flower dates back to Emperor Ashoka's regime, which was during 250 B.C.E.
The same professor has added that at this time, lotuses were primarily used to sculpt a type of Buddhist Stupa. The history of this period isn't new either, as it dates back to 180 B.C.E. At the same time, it was commonly used in the Hindu culture as the vehicle of Goddess Lakshmi, which symbolized wealth and affluence.
From this evidence, it is practically clear that the Lotus was an incredibly popular flower in the South Eastern Culture. However, around the same time, it gained immense popularity among the Indo Greeks.
According to several studies, these individuals did not have a fixed geographic territory and were primarily nomads. Regardless, they worshipped the Lotus flower for the amount of divinity it signified and brought along.
Thanks to this immense popularity, Lotus currently stands as both India's and Vietnam's national flower.
Meaning of the Lotus Flower
With more familiarity with the history of the lotus flower, you are perhaps inclined to know more about the flower's meaning and its role in both religion and several other spiritual aspects. As you already know, the flower is predominantly used in the Eastern parts of the world.
For instance, in several cultures is said to resemble a womb that protects the universe from all wrong-doings and negativity. It is believed the universe emerges from the womb of the lotus.
Another thing to note here is the area where lotus is primarily grown. While you will find beautiful lotus, ponds lined with the prettiest shades of lotuses, most of them are known to grow in marshes, bogs, and any other area that is generally deemed swampy.
This further goes on to symbolize that perfection arises from ugliness and messy elements. It raises a light of hope that even the best things can happen in the worst situations.
Another meaning of the lotus flower lies in the way it indicates and symbolizes connection. This is further explained better in the Buddhist concept of the one/single/ and truly universal soul. So, in a way, Buddhist cultures refer to the lotus as the one primary soul.
Because the lotus often emerges from the dirtiest waters, all while keeping its petals immaculate, it is often deemed a symbol of true purity and transparency. That is also the reason why several individuals consider that lotus truly spiritually purifies them. Also, if we see beyond this general meaning, it indicates the true and one creation. Lotus symbolizes creation in itself as a whole.
This is yet another way that lotus can be symbolized. As you already know, the beautiful petals of the lotus are transformed through a regenerative process as they eventually step out of the murky waters to bloom beautifully along the water surface. This symbolizes fertility in several cultures. Birth is one of the most crucial and natural aspects of this life and lotus is believed to manifest the entire process. Any couple who is struggling to be pregnant can meditate before the lotus flower to embody positive energy.
This is yet another lotus flower meaning, that will last you the longest time. As you head out on a path to being enlightened, you need to cross many hurdles, one being- self-awareness. Other parts of the process include being non-attached and finally reaching a sense of awakening.
The lotus symbolizes this entire journey. You will often notice that the petals of this beautiful flower are open. This indicates the openness that human relationships should ensure and enjoy.
As mentioned in the previous section, you are probably familiar with the event of the beautiful lotus flower blooming in all its glory, with the petals fully open. This symbolizes the openness and kindness of heart. It also indicates that we should treat everyone with true empathy and kindness regardless of our situations.
You will notice that the lotus petals are often vulnerable post opening up. However, doing this gives it an opportunity to soak in on the sun and the moonbeams. This further teaches us to be vulnerable so that we can connect with others with greater transparency, without being judgmental to their situations.
Lotus Flower Symbolism Meaning
Now that you know the true meaning of the Lotus flower, you are probably curious about what the symbolism of the Lotus flowers means to us and how it is deemed in the Buddhist culture. This section is all about that, and here we will explain the symbolism of the beautiful Lotus in greater detail.
According to the Buddhist culture, nobody is imperfect, and everyone can be potentially perfect and truly enlightened self-aware after a certain point. The culture believes in giving humans a chance until they reach that perfect stage of self-attainment.
According to the Buddhists, every individual is reborn millions of times, leading to several incarnations of the same being until they are finally on their path to nirvana. In case you didn't know already, nirvana is deemed the highest and greatest conscious state for humans.
The image of Buddha on a beautiful Lotus bloom basically symbolizes the individuals with resilience, the ones who endured and experienced the pain of the material world and still kept their consciousness and focus on empathy, kindness, and self-awareness.
The Buddhist culture depicts life in the same way as a Lotus flower. Initially, you will find it growing in boggy water, but the next day you will find beautiful blooms. This further indicates that you can successfully overcome all the hurdles of life and achieve your deepest and most important endeavors.
Different Lotus Flower Colors Meaning
The different colors of Lotus flowers often come with different meanings. Here is everything you need to know about them:
White: Symbolizes the purity and transcendent quality of the soul.
Pink: Serves as an invitation to beauty and feminine energy in general.
Red: This symbolizes passion, harmony, hope, and everything optimistic.
Blue: Indicates the Bodhisattva/Nirvana stage in Buddhism, which is all about self-awakening and awareness.
Lotus Flower in Religion
In this part, we will learn the significance of the Lotus flower in the Buddhist and Hindu cultures.
Buddhist Culture: To Buddhists, the lotus represents the entire lifecycle of life. As you will know in the later sections, the mud symbolizes the obstacles of material life and the blooming of the petals symbolizes the overcoming of the said obstacles that ultimately set and lead you to the path of self-awakening.
Hindu Culture: To the Hindus, the Lotus symbolizes all things prosperous, beautiful, and feminine. It is often associated with Goddess Lakshmi who is also the Goddess of wealth and affluence.
Mythology and Folklore
The Lotus has several folklore-specific connotations across several cultures. In this section, we will dive a little deeper:
China: Here, the lotus stands as a symbol of purity and transcendental love. It also represents femininity and is believed to improve marital bliss.
Japan: here Lotus is believed to indicate our mind, body, and soul's innate purity.
Vietnam: Being the National flower, Lotus is a symbol of optimistic ideas and plenty of hope.
Lotus Flower Tattoo
You will find several individuals donning the Lotus flower tattoo, which simply means that they are symbolizing pureness, the element of rebirth, and spiritual enlightenment. This can be traced back to the growing condition of the lotus plant.
Lotus Flower for Yoga Meditation
As you would probably guess at this point, the Lotus flower is also extensively used in Yoga and meditation. More often than not, we recollect the lotus imagery during our mindfulness or meditation sessions inadvertently. It is also involved in some yoga positions, like Hatha yoga, which also symbolizes the Lotus pose and involves plenty of deep breath. This position helps one attain focus and concentration irrespective of the surroundings.
As part of the lotus pose, you are required to keep your hips in an open fashion which is known to offer energy. The position is called kundalini. You will also find several yoga mudras alluding to the Lotus flower. This includes the Padma and Heart Chakra mudra that is known to improve your feeling of love, truthfulness, and genuine empathy.
Lotus Flower as a Jewelry
Along with its many uses, Lotus doesn't fail to be fashionable either. It is incredibly popular in the jewelry industry and may be used to make the following:
· Studs or longer earrings
· Hand-rings and toe-rings
You might want to gift this to adolescents, reminding them to be humble in all situations. Alternatively, you might gift to your loved ones as a symbol of purity and love. And finally, you can also gift it to someone who is struggling through the darkest times.
Over the last 7000 years, Lotus has been considered a primary food source across many parts of Asia. Several Asians have consumed the seeds and leaves of the Lotus plant. In some cases, their rhizomes are also used.
The uses of lotus flowers aren't limited to cooking because the following parts of the plants are often concocted to prepare herbal medicines:
· Lotus buds
· Lotus stalks
· Lotus stamens and roots
The medicine prepared from the concoction of these many parts helps grapple diarrhea and also helps enjoy longer hours of sleep. The stalk also comes with independent uses and is known for boosting blood flow. This is one of the primary reasons why it is used during the postpartum period.
Along with eating the Lotus leaves, you can also use it to cover and transport tiny bits of food or create small steaming batches. You can also wrap prettier and longer flowers with it.
Lotus is a beautiful flower, and as you know, at this point, it comes with many symbols. According to several Eastern cultures, it symbolizes purity, self-awakening, and the regeneration of self. In the Buddhist cultures, it also signifies rebirth.
The features of the lotus perfectly analyze our human condition, signifying hope even in the darkest hours. Just like the lotus blooms from the murkiest waters, humans too can overcome their mortal obstacles and embark on a path of true self-enlightenment.