Friday May 25, 2018

The symbol of Lotus Flower is significant to Buddhism and Hinduism, Find out why!

Lotus is originated from the naval of Lord Vishnu with Lord Brahma sitting on it.

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Lotus Flower. Image source: www.tigerscursebook.com
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  • Lotus means ‘rebirth’ or ‘reincarnation’ in Buddhism
  • Lotus also symbolizes state of self consciousness
  • Lotus is originated from the naval of Lord Vishnu with Lord Brahma sitting on it

Lotus flower is significant both in Hinduism and Buddhism. they are an integral part of all decorations. Lotus flowers are used in all kinds of rituals ranging from a birth of a newborn to marriage.

As Lotus grows in muddy water, environment teaches us the first lesson. Lotus grows and blooms above the gloom to achieve enlightenment. Purification is the second lesson, which means absolving a spirit that is born with murkiness. Last one is faithfulness; it requires being faithful to grow from dirt.

Goddess Lakshmi standing of Lotus flower. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Goddess Lakshmi standing of Lotus flower. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

In Buddhism, Lotus holds a unique place. It is one of the 8 sacred symbols in Buddhism. A closed Lotus denotes the time when Buddha was not there to guide his followers. While a fully opened flower represent that follower of Buddha has met his master. As a Lotus unfolds, each petal denotes a stage to achieve enlightenment and self awareness.

It also symbolizes meaning of life. The mud in which lotus grows represents the sufferings. As we all know, humans are born with sufferings and grow in sufferings. This signifies that suffering is also a part of life. It gives us experiences which are further used to gain more experiences to live life.

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Moreover, Lotus itself means ‘rebirth’ or ‘reincarnation’ in Buddhism. The definition of rebirth not only involves taking birth as a child but also the morning after the darkest day, change of ideas or following Buddha.

In Hinduism, a Lotus represents fertility, prosperity and beauty. It also resembles divinity, purity and eternity. According to Bhagvad Gita, a lotus resembles a man who works without any attachment, who stands out of failure and sufferings and who is far away from any sin.

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Lotus is originated from the naval of Lord Vishnu with Lord Brahma sitting on it. Goddess Lakshmi is also found sitting or standing on Lotus while carrying a small one in her hand. A lotus flower is said to wake and bloom on first ray of sun.

Lotus also symbolizes state of self consciousness. In Hinduism, each petal of Lotus represents the potential of an individual spiritually and describes each petal as levels for achieving self consciousness. A lotus is said to present deep in heart and located deep in lotus is ‘Atman’ which human search in their life to attain ‘Moksha’.

Lotus also holds significance in Yoga. Padmasana, lotus like pose, is done by those who want to attain highest level of self consciousness which is found in Lotus Chakra present at top of the head.

-prepared by Aparna Gupta, an intern with NewsGram. Twitter @writetoaparna99

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  • devika todi

    it is always good to know more about the symbolic representations of natural objects like lotus in the various religions. it is interesting, how we can take lessons from all that surrounds us and apply it in our daily life, like yoga asanas.
    great article!

  • devika todi

    it is always good to know more about the symbolic representations of natural objects like lotus in the various religions. it is interesting, how we can take lessons from all that surrounds us and apply it in our daily life, like yoga asanas.
    great article!

Next Story

Buddhist Monk Losang Samten Uses Colors to Spread Message of Peace

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

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Samten
Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten uses colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism. VOA

According to one estimate, there are a 5 quintillion, 5 hundred quadrillion grains of sand on earth, a number so large it must be approaching infinity. This makes sand an appropriate medium for the construction of spiritual images of the universe.

Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten does just that, using colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. VOA

Decades of mandalas

Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama.

“When I was a teenager, age of 17,” he told VOA, “I had a privilege to enter His Holiness Dalai Lama’s monastery … in India. I have been studying sand mandalas ever since then. So it’s a long time.”

VOA found Samten painstakingly layering grains of colored sand at the gallery of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The particular mandala he was working on was the mandala of compassion, or unconditional love.

Far from random designs, mandalas have been perfected over centuries.

“These are uniquely designed many, many, many, many, many years passing to an artist to another artist to another artist to another artist,” Samten said. “The color has a meaning, the shape has different meanings. Not my design; it didn’t come out of my own idea.”

When Samten created a sand mandala at the American Museum of History in New York in 1988 at the request of the Dalai Lama, it was the first time the 2,600-years-old ancient ritual art was seen outside of monasteries. Since then, Samten has made sand mandalas in museums, galleries and universities across the U.S. and many parts of the world.

“They are used to enhance the spiritual practice through image and meditation, to overcome suffering. Mandalas represent enlightened qualities and methods which explain this path, making them very important for the spiritual journey,” Samten wrote on his web site.

Nothing is permanent

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama. VOA

“In the winter of 1959, [we] crossed Mount Everest, it took us two months to cross,” he told VOA. “You cannot travel during the day and so scared and not enough food not enough clothes. I was age of 5. I saw, I mean unbelievable dead bodies, people dying without food. I became a monk at age 11 when I was in school, refugee school.”

Samten left monastic life in 1995 and became the spiritual director at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He says the patience of the creative process, can lead observers to find calm determination within themselves.

“When I am doing this mandala at universities and schools, many kids came to me, (saying) ‘when I saw you doing the sand mandala, that help me so much to finish my education, patience …’ I have a lot of stories,” he said.

Monk Samten
Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. VOA

Beauty comes and goes

After a sand mandala is completed, it is dismantled ceremoniously.

“Dismantle has many different reasons,” Samten said. “… One thing is, dismantle is a beauty, whatever we see as a beauty on the earth, never be everlasting as a beauty and impermanent, impermanent, comes and goes. It’s like a season.”

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Or like sand, ever changing in the wind.

Samten often invites children to participate in the ceremony.

To gallery visitor Traci Chiodress that was part of the charm of the event.

“I think it’s powerful to see something so beautiful created, and then taken apart, and to be done in a community with a group of people of different ages,” she said. “I just think it’s an important type of practice.” (VOA)