Reminiscent Tales of Indian Lotus Flower

April 5, 2013 Updated: April 7, 2013

The Indian national flower, Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), profoundly inspires the country’s ancient and modern culture, art, and literary richness.

For those who have traveled through the heart of rural southern-India, the sights of Lotus ponds surely act as an unforgettable and beautiful reminiscent of the journey. The flower’s association with Indian culture dates back to thousands of years—thereby inspiring, shaping and, bringing out the true spirit of India as an ancient civilization.

The richness of ancient Indian literature is synonymous with its ancient language, Sanskrit. In Sanskrit, every word embodies a world of experiences.

According to K. K. Yatheendran, a Kerala based Sanskrit scholar, Lotus has many inspiring names in Sanskrit, each evocative of a different experience: Pankeyrooham (born from the mud), Sahasrapatram (thousand petaled), Kamalam (which decorates water), Shatapatram (hundered petaled), and Amboroham (that which sprouts from water) to name a few.

Yatheendran says that Lotus at many places in Sanskrit literature is used as a metaphor like the word “Vadana Amboojam,” which means a lotus like face or a lustrous face.

Lotus gets its best mention in modern Indian literature in a famous Sonnet “Lotus” by Toru Dutt, “Love came to Flora asking for a flower, That would of flowers be undisputed queen,…..”

The flower also finds itself etched on Indian art in various contexts. A very commonly seen symbol in Indian temples even now, Lotus has become synonyms with purity and goodness in art.

“It’s to be noted that generally only full blossomed flowers are offered before God in India, except for Lotus, whose buds are offered,” Yatheendran told the Epoch Times.

Lotus has been found in pre-historic murals and cave paintings in the country. The most noted is the painting, Padmapani of Cave 1 of Ajanta in Maharashtra state. In Sanskrit, Padmapani literally means the bearer of lotus.

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The flower is also a popular motif in Kolams (Rangoli)—a from of decorative patterns drawn on the floor with powdered rice, chalk or synthetic powdered colors. The drawings are believed to bring prosperity to the home.

Even during the Mughal period, lotus motif was represented in architecture. In Shah-jahana-bad city, established by the king Shah Jahan (A.D. 1627–58), now known as the Red Fort, the lotus was used as a symbol of ever-renewing youth. 

The exclusive female apartments (the Rang Mahal) is designed in the form of a large lotus, with delicately patterned petals laid out within a square bordered frame. In the center of the basin there is a slender stem with a silver lotus at the top from which water rushes out. 

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