Padma (lotus flower) plays a very significant role in Hinduism. This flower symbolizes rebirth, purity, strength, spirituality, and enlightenment. It is also the symbol that transcends both religion and time. Let’s know the significance of padma in Hinduism.
Durga Puja and Padma
Durga Puja is the most favorite festival of Bengali Hindus. Throughout the year Bengalis wait for these few days. Durga Puja is actually more of a festival, a meeting place than a puja. So we don’t pay much attention to the rituals of worship as much as we enjoy it. If we notice, we will see that the use of 108 padma (lotus flowers) is very necessary for Durga Puja rituals. Sandhi Puja, that is performed at the end of Ashtami Puja, cannot be imagined without 108 padma (lotus flowers). This flower is equally important in some other puja rituals. A padma used in Durga Puja is also considered to be a symbol of success. Let’s know why padma (lotus flower) is so important in Durga Puja.
According to the Ramayana story, during the battle between Rama and Ravana, Rama was told to awaken Goddess Durga in autumn. But it was not the appropriate season for Durga Puja. Ravana and Lanka, his kingdom, were protected in the safe haven of Bhadrakali, another form of Adishakti. Moreover, Ravana worshipped the goddess and protected his chariot with the blessings of the Goddess. So in order to destroy Ravana’s power, he (Ravana) had to be brought out from the protection of Bhadrakali first. So Rama started worshipping Goddess Durga. However, seeing that, the goddess was not satisfied with anything, Vibhishana advised Rama to worship the Goddess with 108 blue colored padma (lotus flowers).
Rama told Hanumana to go to Devidaha where the only blue colored padma (lotus flower) was found. After getting the padma, Rama began to perform puja. But he saw that a padma or lotus was missing. Then he expressed his desire to offer his padma (lotus-like) eyes to the Goddess. Seeing his devotion, Goddess appeared and gave Rama the boon that his wish would be fulfilled. Rama began his puja on the sixth day, the goddess entered in Rama’s arms between (Sandhikshan) the eighth and ninth days of the puja and Ravana was killed on the tenth day (Vijaya). This is why 108 padma (lotus flowers) are so important in Sandhi Puja of the Durga Puja festival.
Hindu Deities and Padma
Many Hindu deties are associated with Padma (lotus). According to the Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma emerged from the navel of Lord Vishnu sitting on the padma (lotus). Lord Brahma is also called ‘Padmapani’ as he holds a padma (lotus) in one of his hands. Saraswati, his consort, is also seen sitting on the padma. Lord Vishnu is called ‘Padmalochan’ as his eyes are compared to padma (lotus flowers). Lakshmi, his consort, is also depicted with padma (lotus). Again, Lord Vishnu or his incarnation, Lord Krishna is called ‘Shankha-Chakra-Gada-Padmadhari’ as Lord Vishnu or Lord Krishna holds Shankha (conchshell), Chakra (disc-like weapon), Gada (mace) and Padma (lotus).
Besides, padma (lotus) image is also associated with different types of Mandala used in Hinduism, Buddhism and some other Indian religions. These are Kalacakra Mandala, Sri Yantra, Nava Padma Mandala etc.
Yoga and Padma
The name of padma (lotus) flower is also significant in yoga. Padmasana is an important yoga pose in Yoga Shastra. Padmasana yoga is an ultimate yoga pose. It is a cross leg sitting asana, which follows the ancient Indian tradition of yoga with the practitioner’s feet on the thighs. If we see the meditative image of Lord Shiva or Gautama Buddha, we can easliy understand what this yoga pose is. Padmasana (lotus position) yoga connects one’s mind body and spirit together. It also increases physical stability with proper and immense breathing pattern.
Talker: Krishna Das