In Hinduism, the lotus (Sanskrit & Tibetan: padma) primarily represents beauty and non-attachment. The lotus is rooted in the mud but floats on the water without becoming wet or muddy. This symbolizes how how one should live in the world in order to gain release from rebirth: without attachment to one’s surroundings.
“One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.”
Bhagavad Gita 5.10
The lotus is also a symbol for the centres of consciousness (chakras) in the body.
The lotus is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols and one of the most poignant representations of Buddhist teaching.
The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight. 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.
Though there are other water plants that bloom above the water, it is only the lotus which, owing to the strength of its stem, regularly rises eight to twelve inches above the surface.
The colour of the lotus has an important bearing on the symbology associated with it: White Lotus (Skt. pundarika; Tib. pad ma dkar po): This represents the state of spiritual perfection and total mental purity (bodhi). It is associated with the White Tara and proclaims her perfect nature, a quality which is reinforced by the colour of her body.
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For other interpretations of this challenge have a look at ‘Weekly Photo Challenge; One‘