Lotus from symbolsage.com
Lotus flowers are beautiful flowers that are commonly associated with purity, inner strength and tranquillity, but its symbolism extends beyond that. The flower plays a symbolic role in various religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Given its deep symbolic meanings and connection to religion, the lotus flower is considered one of the most sacred plants. Here’s a closer look at the lotus.
Origins of Lotus Symbolism
Lotus flowers were symbolically depicted as early as Ancient Egypt, where white and blue lotuses are more common. In Egypt, the flower was known as Seshen and was associated with Egyptian gods. Because of the way in which the lotus emerged from the water, followed the movement of the sun and then closed back up and returned into the water, only to repeat the process the next day, the lotus was associated with the sun god, Ra.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that lotuses were symbolic of creation, rebirth, strength and power. Perhaps, for this reason, during childbirth Egyptian women tended to wear lotus amulets with a picture of Heqet, a goddess of fertility. The lotuses were present in art, hieroglyphics, and paintings to represent fertility, a new beginning, and purity.
Other historical references to the lotus can be found in Ancient Greece and in Indian religions. In Ancient Greece, the flower represented innocence, modesty, and purity.
References to lotuses in Hinduism can be traced back to at least 1400 BC through Vedic texts that depict Hindu gods holding or standing on lotuses. Early references can also be found in the Buddhist religion, and the Buddha is often depicted sitting on a lotus.
Symbolism of the Lotus
The meanings behind the flower relate to the symbolism of the lotus growing out of muddy waters. The flowers’ roots anchor it in the mud, but the flower rises above its murky environment, blossoming open one petal at a time. Based on these unique growing conditions, the lotus flower has come to have many symbolic meanings.
The lotus represents spiritual enlightenment. Regardless of its dirty environment and the muddy water it’s rooted in, the lotus rises above it all to bloom in beauty, facing the sun. This is symbolic of overcoming the material world and emerging from the muddy waters of suffering to reach spiritual enlightenment and wisdom.
The flower symbolizes detachment as the lotus detaches itself from the water and filth that sullies its environment. This symbolism serves as a reminder to separate ourselves from things that could sully our soul and to instead focus on the things that matter, such as wisdom, relationships and spiritual enlightenment.
Resurrection & New Beginnings
Lotuses also symbolize resurrections and new beginnings. The flower emerges in the morning, only to close up at night and disappear into back into the water. in the morning, a new blossom remerges and continues the cycle. This representation makes the lotus a common flower at funerals. This is also why the flower was popular in Egyptian symbolism.
Purity & Cleanliness
The lotus represents purity and cleanliness, as it’s able to emerge from the murky waters pure and unsullied. In particular, the flower represents the purity of the human soul, as the center of the flower is never tainted by its journey, nor is it by the daily exposure to the murky water.
The lotus flower blooms slowly one petal at a time, which is similar to the gradual steps required to reach spiritual enlightenment. In this sense, the lotus is a symbol of personal progress. Regardless of the color of the petals, the middle is typically yellow, which represents the goal of enlightenment.
Nature & Womanhood
The lotus has also been associated with nature and womanhood. Some representations use a lotus bud to symbolize a virgin. In contrast, a fully grown flower is a mature, sexually experienced female.
Remaining True to Yourself
The lotus is also an excellent example of remaining true to yourself and who you are. Regardless of the murky waters and environment, the lotus remains grounded, proud of what it is and yet still a part of its environment. It beautifies it and makes it better simply by being there.
Lotus Symbolism in Religion
The lotus is a religiously significant symbol, especially for Eastern religions. While many of the symbolic meanings are similar, each religion has its own associations as well.
Lotus Flower in Buddhism
Buddhists see the lotus as a representation of life. The mud is the suffering, challenges, and obstacles we face, and the flower symbolizes overcoming those obstacles. This growth can be viewed as progressing towards a state of purity or the path to enlightenment. Also related to life, Buddhists see the flower as representing rebirth and reincarnation. The flower also signifies purity, spirituality, and self-cleaning.
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