Lotus Flower and Spirituality

Sacred and Significant For Hindus and Buddhists

Hindus and Buddhists alike revere the sanctity of the lotus flower. The lotus has great significance in both belief systems and is used in religious rituals and in ceremonial practices.

It’s not uncommon to find the lotus flower used as decor throughout the Indian and Asian cultures because of the spiritual implication of it blessing the home.

The lotus flower was claimed sacred in Hinduism long before it was adopted into Buddhism. The common link between Hinduism and Buddhism with regard to the lotus flower is its symbolic association with the unique lifecycle of the lotus.

Hinduism

The Lotus Flower

Symbolism:

  • prosperity
  • beauty
  • fertility

Representation:

  • eternity
  • purity
  • divinity
  • life
  • fertility
  • youth

Description:

  • female of beautiful eyes

Hindus believe that each person possesses the spirit of the lotus. The analogy of the lotus flower’s rise from the dark mud to light, reveals how the consciousness evolves from emotional responses to the liberation of the spirit.

There are many deities (gods) in Hinduism that are depicted holding a lotus in their hand. The lotus is believed to be the seat of the deity as divine and pure.

Deities in Hinduism

Brahma (the creator)
Durga (protector of righteous, destroyer of evil)
Vishnu (preserver of life)
Krishna (incarnate of Vishnu)
Shiva (death, dissolution)
Ganesha (success, knowledge, wealth)
Lakshmi (wealth, prosperity)
Rama (truth, virtue)
Saraswati (knowledge, art, music)
Surya (god of sun)
Parvati (divine mother)
Krishna (love, compassion)
Kali (goddess of time, death)
Murugan (god of war

Hindu Belief(s)

The Bhagavad Gita (a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is in Sanskrit translation) notes that the human is commanded to be more like the lotus flower doing work without expecting anything in return.

Humans are to dedicate their labor to God so that they may be like the lotus; standing above the water untouched (symbolic of being untouched by sin.)

Hindus believe the lotus to be the womb of the universe. The “creator” of Hinduism (Brahma) was said to have used parts of the lotus to recreate the universe after the great flood.

Lakshmi (god of wealth) is believed to sit upon a throne which is the lotus flower in full bloom. Lakshmi is said to have emerged into existence through the lotus flower on the forehead of another deity, Vishnu.

Today, Hindus are seen wearing garlands of 108 lotus seeds when worshipping Lakshmi.

Durga (god of power) was said to have been given a garland of lotus flowers from Varuna (god of oceans.)

Brahma (the creator) was said to have sat within the belly button of Vishnu (the preserver of life.) The lotus flower was supposed to have risen from Vishnu’s belly button.

Buddhism

The Lotus Flower

Symbolism:

  • White lotus - purity
  • Blue lotus - knowledge, wisdom
  • Pink lotus - Buddha and his teachings

Representation:

  • Closed lotus bud is representative of “time before enlightenment”
  • Fully bloomed lotus represents “time of enlightenment”
  • Partial lotus bloom represents “enlightenment is not reachable at the given time”

Buddhist Belief(s)

In Buddhism, the lotus is thought to achieve enlightenment as it rises from mud and then blooming above the water. The human spirit is born into the darkness of the mud, and through one’s works, they rise up through the waters to be faithful followers.

The overall position that the lotus holds in Buddhism is one that is representational in rebirth through reincarnation.

The Lotus and Us

For those of us that are not Hindu or Buddhist, we can certainly appreciate the symbolic nature of such a beautiful flower.

Although it may not have the same spiritual significance for all, it’s captivating how a flower can start in mud, push up through the water and reach for the light, and then to sink again when the sun goes down.

It’s amazing how nature can be so perfect!