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Padma (attribute)

Sacred Lotus
The Hindu goddess Lakshmi holding & standing on a lotus, Raja Ravi Varma painting.
The boy Buddha rising up from lotus. Crimson and gilded wood, Trần-Ho dynasty, Vietnam, 14th-15th century

Padma (Nelumbo nucifera, the sacred lotus) is an aquatic plant that plays a central role in Indian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. The lotus flower has many different names such as the "Indian Lotus", the "Sacred Lotus", and the "Bean of India".


The lotus is an ancient and polyvalent symbol in many Asian cultures. Hindus revere it with the gods Vishnu, Brahma and to a lesser degree Kubera, and the goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati. Often used as an example of divine beauty and purity, Vishnu is often described as the "Lotus-Eyed One". The lotus springs from the navel of Vishnu while he is in Yoga Nidra. The lotus blooms uncovering the creator god Brahma in lotus position.[1]Its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul. The growth of its pure beauty from the mud of its origin holds a benign spiritual promise. Particularly Brahma and Lakshmi, the divinities of potency and wealth, have the lotus symbol associated with them. In the epic Ramayana Lord Rama offers 999 lotuses to the Goddess Durga before the war.


In the Aṅguttara Nikāya, the Tathāgata compares himself to a padma (paduma)[2] and other kinds of lotus flowers, like the white lotus (puṇḍarīka), because the lotus flower raises from the muddy water unstained, as he raises from this world, free from the defilements taught in the specific sutta.[3][4]

In Buddhist symbolism the lotus is symbolic of purity of the body, speech, and mind as while rooted in the mud, its flowers blossom on long stalks as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. It is also symbolic of detachment as drops of water easily slide off its petals.

This has also taken root in Chinese cultures with a famous statement made by the 11th century Confucian scholar Zhou Dunyi: "I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained."

The lotus flower is one of the Ashtamangala of Buddhism, representative of creation and cosmic renewal and "primordial purity" (Wylie: ka dag) and shares in the chakra and mandala symbolism of the Dharmacakra.

The padma is held to be a flower with a thousand petals and is therefore associated with the Sahasrara and indeed all the chakra. The padma appears as an endemic dais upon which deities rest and indeed upon which Hindu iconography is founded.

It is also to be noted that many Asian deities are depicted seated on a lotus flower. According to legend, Gautama Buddha was born with the ability to walk and everywhere he stepped, lotus flowers bloomed.


The founders (tirthankaras) of Jainism are portrayed seated or standing on lotus blossoms.[5] The Jain tirthankara Padmaprabha is represented by a lotus. Padmaprabha means "bright as a red lotus" in Sanskrit. It is said in Śvetāmbara sources that his mother had a fancy for a couch of red lotuses – padma – while he was in her womb.[6][better source needed]

See alsoEdit



  • Dallapiccola, Anna L. (2002). Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. New York: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-51088-1.
  • Lawlor, Robert (1991). Voices Of The First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, Ltd. ISBN 0-89281-355-5
  • Shakti M. Gupta (1971). Plant Myths and Traditions in India. Netherlands: Brill Publishers. pp. 65–67. Retrieved 25 June 2015.

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