The Cultural significance of the Lotus
From ancient times the lotus has been a divine symbol in Asian traditions representing the virtues of sexual purity and non-attachment.
Hindus revere it with the divinities Vishnu and Lakshmi often portrayed on a pink lotus in iconography. In the representation of Vishnu as Padmanabha (Lotus navel), a lotus issues from his navel with Brahma on it.
Goddess Sarasvati is portrayed on a white-colored lotus.
Often used as an example of divine beauty, Vishnu is often described as the 'Lotus-Eyed One'. 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. In Hindu iconography, other deities, like Ganga and Ganesha are often depicted with lotus flowers as their seats.
The lotus plant is cited extensively within Puranic and Vedic literature, for example:
"One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus is untouched by water."
—Bhagavad Gita 5.10
In Chinese culture Confucian scholar Zhou Dunyi wrote:
"I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained."
Most deities of Asian religions are depicted as seated on a lotus flower. In Buddhist symbolism, the lotus represents purity of the body, speech, and mind as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire.
According to legend, Gautama Buddha was born with the ability to walk, and lotus flowers bloomed everywhere he stepped.
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