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ALPANA GHOSE

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 5/15/2015 |




THE DIVINE FLOWER LOTUS

Lotus the world's most beautiful flower is also considered as   the most sacred flower .Throughout many cultures over time; the lotus has been a powerful image and a spiritual symbol in Hindu, Buddhist and Egyptian religions.  Few flowers have found such prominence in legends as the lotus. The Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions have amassed a wealth of fascinating stories about lotus. In Hinduism, the flower is said to be the center of the universe. There is a story that it arose from the navel of God Vishnu, and at the center of the flower sat Brahma known as Brahma Kamal, the Lotus of Lord Bramha, the flower on which he is sitting on,  It is also known as King flower.

The starting life of this flower is not as beautiful as its blossom When lotus seed  begins to sprout ,it is under the mud making its home in ponds or lakes where the water remains fairly still on the surface But under the surface ,the lotus seed  is surrounded by mud, insects , dirty condition .Despite these conditions lotus sprout pushes aside each of these and makes its way to the clearer surface finally freeing itself from the harsh life conditions below rises above water into the clean air . It is then  the lotus bud slowly unfolds each beautiful petal to the sun, basking in the worldly beauty surrounding it. The lotus flower is ready to take on the world.  Despite born in dark muddy  conditions the lotus grows, rises above all adversities to bloom as a beautiful flower. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul. It is very similar to human life as said Swami Vivekananda about life, “Life is the unfoldment and development of a being under circumstances tending to press it down.”(1)

Lotus   is a symbol of purity and resurrection. Lotus flower represents an awakening, spiritual growth and enlightmant .Unfolding its thousand petals one by one, each opening of the petal is the gradual unfolding of the consciousness on the path of enlightenment, impurities of unenlightened (naïve) thinking fade away, and the individual consciousness steers its path to enlightenment When it unfolds its thousand petals it becomes thousand forms of God but when it closes its thousand petals it becomes   One (Brahman) (2).  The thousand-petal  lotus signifies spiritual illumination As the lotus is pure even born  in the muddy   water, So the soul is also pure even living in impure environments.                             

The lotus could be thought as awakened mind, which grows naturally towards the warmth and light of truth and love. It may appear fragile on the surface, but it is flexible and strong    securely anchored   underneath water like an elevated soul of monk who is unaffected by the surroundings he lives, his mind is fixed at only one point - attaining the goal of enlightment. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.

The lotus is also the foremost symbol of   beauty, prosperity and fertility. According to Hinduism, within each human inhabiting   the spirit of the sacred lotus which is our inner lotus that too  has never seen drop of mud or dirty water.   It is pure and bright (glistening). It represents eternity, purity and divinity and is widely used as a symbol of life,   and ever-renewing youth. Lotus in spite of being in water never gets wet, it is not bothered about its surrounding but it blooms and performs its job and vanishes,   it is representative of somebody who carries out their tasks with little concern for any reward and with a full liberation from attachment.  The ultimate aim of living beings is to perform its karma without bothering about the external factors. In the Bhagavad Gita,(3) man is adjured to be like the lotus--he should work without attachment, dedicating his actions to God--untouched by sin like water on a lotus leaf and the beautiful flower standing high above the mud  and    water .
The bloom of legends: This   flower is frequently mentioned in the ancient Sanskrit Hindu scriptures, as padma (pink lotus), kamala (red lotus), pundarika (white lotus) and utpala (blue lotus). The earliest reference can be found in the Rig Veda around 1500 BC mention white and blue lotuses and Atharva Veda compares lotus with human heart. Twin youths who are the Gods of dawn, known as Ashwins wear blue lotus garlands. The Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions have amassed a wealth of fascinating stories about lotus   . Each of the three Brahminical deities, Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Protector) and Siva (the Merger) are associated with this plant. In Vedic scripture, the body of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is described as being like a bluish new-grown lotus flower. The lotus flowers are also associated with the sun, as it opens its petals at dawn and closes at dusk.
Scientufic background :  The genus name Nelumbo means "sacred bean."Researchers report that the lotus has the remarkable ability to regulate the temperature of its flowers to within a narrow range just as humans and other warm-blooded animals do. Dr. Roger S. Seymour and Dr. Paul Schultze-Motel, physiologists at the University of Adelaide in Australia, found that lotus flowers blooming in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens maintained a temperature of 30–35 °C (86–95 °F), even when the air temperature dropped to 10 °C (50 °F). They suspect the flowers may be doing this to attract coldblooded insect pollinators.It can be related with meditating monks who remain steady whatever the surroundings are unaware of the surrounding   . People who are elevated soul are attracted by the meditating monk like bees attracted towards the flower .A story of Swami Vivekananda can be quoted here once Swami Vivekananda   was meditating in a cave in mount Abu without any awareness about the environment outside. An advocate Faiz ali (4)   who used to see him every day in the same position, was attracted by his personality and asked his introduction then took him to Maha Raja Ajit Singh. That’s how Ajit Singh,Raja of Khetri  met Swami Vivekananda.                       

Leaves of lotus Not only the flowers but   its large, leaves represent the flourishing of surrounding cultures. Peltate (with the leaf-stalk attaching to the centre, rather than the edge)   rise above the water surface on 1 to 2 m long petioles. The leaves may be as large as 60 cm in diameter.   The   strikingly water-repellent leaf surface has inspired the term 'lotus effect'. This term describes the leaves' self-cleaning capacity which is a result of dirt particles being picked up by water droplets due to a complex nanostructure of the leaf surface that minimizes adhesion. It symbolizes people with   high spiritual thoughts   although live in the worldly experience   yet they are unaffected by others.

The lotus flower and its meaning in Hinduism:  Perhaps one of the strongest associations of the lotus flower with religion is that   is observed in Hinduism.

Different colour  lotus   have different meanings in Hindu religion.
        
 1.White lotus  : this color lotus is known to symbolize being awakened, and represents a state of mental purity, and that of spiritual perfection; it is also associated with the pacification of one’s nature. White lotus flower has special significance in Hinduism, where its meaning is strongly associated with goddess Saraswati   and   Brahma  . This lotus is considered to be the womb of the world.

2.Blue Lotus: The blue lotus flower is associated  intelligence   and knowledge. A blue Lotus in Buddhist art   it is always depicted as being partially open and the centre is never observed. . It is the lotus of Manjusri, and also one of the attributes of Prajnaparamita, the embodiment of the 'perfection of wisdom'.

3.Purple Lotus: known to be Mystic and is associated with esoteric sects. It can be shown depicted as either an open flower or as a bud. The eight petals of the purple Lotus are representative of the noble eightfold path; one of the principal teachings of the Buddha. Following this path is thought to lead to self awakening, and is considered one of the noble truths.

4.Pink lotus : this is the supreme lotus and is considered to be the true lotus of Buddha.

5.Red lotus: This signifies the original nature & purity of the heart (hrdya). It is the lotus of love, compassion, passion & all other qualities of the heart. It is the flower of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.

The Lotus and Hindu deities:    Many of the gods and goddesses of Hinduism are linked to the flower, for example the goddess of prosperity Laxmi is often described as goddess of fortune,   is depicted as seated atop a fully opened pink lotus. In her right hand she holds a lotus. Saraswati the goddess of learning is seated on a white lotus. Likewise Brahma, the god of creation is depicted as emerging from a lotus that crawls from the Naval of the sustainer Lord Vishnu. Krishna is often described as “lotus eyed one” referring to his divine beauty. The Goddess of Power, Durga, was created by Lord Siva to fight demons and was adorned with a garland of lotus flowers by Varuna.The lotus used as a divine seat for a deity signifies their divinity and is called as Padmasana or Kamalasana. In  various regions of India, lotus blossoms are offered in worship of Lakshmi during Deepavali; to Durga in Durgapuja and to Lord Siva during Mahasivaratri. Scripture indicates at least a 6,000-year association of the lotus with Hindu culture and religion. It is given profound significance in mythology, epics, scriptures, Sanskrit literature and historical records, and it is the prevailing motif in sculptures, temple carvings, architecture, paintings and cave murals . Numerous references to the lotus can be found in the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, slokas, kathas and other ancient Sanskrit literature. The most common Sanskrit names for lotus are Kamala, Padma and Pankaja, and Hindus have always considered the flower highly sacred

Lotus in Budhdhism: Every important Buddhist deity is associated in some manner with the lotus, either being seated upon a lotus in full bloom or holding one in their hands. In some images of standing Buddhas, each foot rests on a separate lotus. According to esoteric Buddhism, the heart of the beings is like an unopened lotus: when the virtues of the Buddha develop therein the lotus blossoms. This is why the Buddha sits on a lotus in bloom. Lotus in Yoga     In the postures of hatha yoga, the lotus position, padmasana, is adopted by those striving to reach the highest level of consciousness, which itself is found in the thousand-petalled lotus chakra at the top of the head.
    

. References
1.(In volume 1, page 281 of The Life of Swami Vivekananda (Advaita Ashrama), there is the following passage:, ‘After the usual formalities the Raja asked him, “Swamiji, what is life?” The Swami replied, “Life is the unfoldment and development of a being under circumstances tending to press it down.
Padma puran
Bhagbad Gita

 4 Faiz Ali an advocate in the court of Raja Ajit Singh.  Mani Shankar Mukherjee's The Monk As Man:   The Unknown Life of Swami   Vivekananda, on 4 June 1891

5.( The study, published in the journal Nature, is the latest discovery in the esoteric field of thermoregulation, heat-producing, plants..
    
According to the Lalitavistara, “the spirit of the best of men is spotless, like the lotus in the muddy water which does not adhere to it.” Also, “In esoteric Buddhism, the heart of the beings is like an unopened lotus: when the virtues of the Buddha develop therein, the lotus blossoms ;   that is why the Buddha sits on a lotus bloom

[ALPANA GHOSE]


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