Padma is the Hindu name for the iconic lotus flower, which is a very important symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as Jainism and Sikhism. It generally represents the awakening of the spiritual consciousness—enlightenment and the connection to the divine.
If you want to learn more about the Padma symbol, read on to find out the meaning, history, and significance of this Hindu and Buddhist symbol.
Padma Symbol – History And Meaning
The lotus flower or padma bears spiritual values across China, India, and Japan. The plant grows in the mud, although the flower itself blossoms above the water. Its petals open one by one.
In Buddhism, padma symbol is the second in the order of the Ashtmangala or the Eight Auspicious Symbols. The lotus flower comes after the endless knot and precedes the dhvaja, dharmachakra, bumpa, golden fish, parasol, and conch.
In Hindu mythology, deities like Lakshmi, Kubera, Vishnu, Brahma, and Saraswati are depicted with the padma. Lakshmi, however, is the deity most prominently identified with this symbol. She is often shown in images sitting on a fully-blossomed padma and holding a couple in her hands. Lakshmi represents purity, as well as prosperity and generosity.
Padma Symbol History
The Hindu people consider the lotus symbol to be pure. The ancient Sanskrit Hindu scriptures express the lotus flower as padma (pink lotus), kamala (red lotus), pundarika (white lotus) and utpala (blue lotus). The symbolism of lotus flower is also featured in the Bhagavad Gita by Lord Krishna.
There are myriad legends told about the Gautama Buddha. Lotus is mentioned in one of the most popular of these. It is said that the Enlightened One, Gautama Buddha, was born already with the ability to walk. Lotus flowers bloomed everywhere he stepped.
For the Hindu people, padma symbolizes life beginning in water. They believe that Lord Brahma materialized from Lord Vishnu seated on a lotus plant.
Other Hindu deities like Saraswati (goddess of learning) and Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) are also identified with the padma. The association with deities Brahma and Lakshmi makes the lotus flower a symbol of prosperity and wealth.
Padma denotes the concept of primordial birth from the cosmic waters of creation. The depiction of the deity Brahma sitting on a lotus flower and emerging from Vishnu’s navel is a symbolic representation of life originating from the water.
It is said that of all Hindu deities, the goddess Lakshmi likes the padma most. This is why the lotus flower is deemed one of the most special offerings for the goddess during Diwali.
The Padma Symbol
The padma represents a number of things—from birth and growth, to purity and divine beauty, and to spiritual enlightenment, among a lot others.
The lotus flower rises immaculate above the water even though its roots are in the mud at a pond’s bottom.
Here the mud denotes the obstacles and suffering we must overcome and endure in life, and the flower represents our journey as we do the overcoming and enduring.
This may be interpreted as a progression from a state of displeasure to an untainted state, a representation of non-attachment to the world.
This beautiful flower is symbolic of one’s ability to perform their duty without being swayed by any earthly desire, pleasure, or gain.
The opening petals of the padma denote the growth of one’s soul.
In Buddhism, the padma bloom has 4, 8, 16, 24, 32, 64, 100, or 1,000 petals. The same figures are referred to one’s body’s “internal lotuses” or what is called the chakra—the body’s energy centers.
For Buddhists, the lotus flower is representative of the purification of the body and speech, as well as the mind.
This is depicted in the lotus’ rootedness in the mud while the flowers manage to bloom on the long stalks as though they were floating above the muddy waters, which symbolize attachment and desire.
Lotus also symbolizes faithfulness. To rise above the mud the way the lotus does so it can blossom requires substantial faith in oneself. This also signifies having full faith in the teachings of Buddha.
The padma is also significant in the symbolism of mandala—Sanskrit for “circles”— as it is based on petals.
In Buddhist Art, a fully-bloomed padma is the symbol of nirvana, while the closed bud signifies time before enlightenment.
Each color of the lotus flower also has symbolic meanings.
The blue lotus symbolizes wisdom, logic and common sense, and depicts the spirit winning over the senses. The pink lotus is the symbol of Buddha and the enlightenment.
A purple lotus means mysticism and spirituality. And finally, the golden lotus denotes a world beyond the secular world we currently live in.
In Hinduism, it is believed that the spirit of a padma lives within each one of us. The lotus spirit is in our heart, which refers to the heart chakra.
Padma Symbol Meaning
The word “padma” is Sanskrit for lotus flower. It is one of the most revered religious symbols in Hinduism and Buddhism.
The padma is symbolic of the primordial purity of mind, body, and speech. The lotus’ ability to float above the filthy waters symbolizes renunciation and purity above earthly attachment and desires.
Lotus is the flower with a thousand petals of different colors, thus, the association with the Sahasrara or the crown chakra—and ultimately, all the chakra.