Lotus as Symbol of Creation and Procreation
Lotus (also referred in Indian literature as kamala or padma ) has come to represent many things in Indian ethos. It stands for beauty, activity, creativity, wealth, health, and prosperity. Right from the vedic times lotus has been a symbol of Mother Earth or Universe.
According to the Hindu creation theory, in the beginning there was only water, and only water everywhere. Then Prajapati (the father of mankind) the creator noticed a lotus leaf floating steadily on chaotic water. He guessed there must be life round about the leaf, so he dived underneath and lifted the earth in the form of lotus, the story goes. Then the whole act of creation started. So the lotus stood for life and activity.
This flower reached poetic heights during the Puranic period. Lord Vishnu resting on the sofa like body of Adishesha (giant cobra) in the ocean, allowed a beautiful divine lotus to bloom from his naval. Thus He came to be known as Padmanabha (having lotus in the naval). From this Padma evolved Lord Brahma who imbibed all good qualities of deities including learning.
Flower of Kamala came to be deified in several forms. Lakshmi, goddess of wealth bears the name of Kamala and Padma as well. Lajjagowri, the goddess of procreation has lotus for head. Some Lajjagowri (headless) images have lotuses in both the hands . All most all forms of Lakshmi (Gaja Lakshmi, Vara Lakshmi etc) have elephants offering Lotus flowers on both sides.
Lotus is auspicious to Buddhists also. Buddha Avalokiteshwara is shown as seated on a lotus. The famous Ajanta painting of Padmapani Buddha has a blooming lotus in the hand.
The ancients knew numerous varieties of lotus flower. Kumuda bloomed at night. Utpala was in blue and black color at times. Padma was rosy and read. Jalaja was similar to water lily. White Shweta was favorite of Saraswati the goddess of learning. Lakshmi the goddess of wealth was fond of Padma naturally. Pankaja (born out of mud) is another name of lotus. Neeraja, Ambuja (both mean ” born to water “) and Mrinal (stem flower) are common names after which Indian girls are named. They are all akin to Lakshmi or Bhudevi. Indeevar is the night lotus, which blooms at the appearance of moon.
No wonder the lotus has the prime place in the Indian life and literature. The lotus eyed and lotus faced heroines are a legend. Beautiful hands and feet were always compared to lotus. Love letters were written on lotus leaves!
During Durga Puja festival, lotus is an essential ingredient . Mother cult in India is invariably connected with lotus. Lotus is a symbol of creation and procreation.