Lotus Flower – Information, Biology, Symbology and Buddhism

We explain what the lotus flower is in biology, where it grows and also what it represents according to its color. Also, its meaning in Buddhism.

lotus flower
The color of the lotus flower varies between white and deep pink.

What is the lotus flower?

With the name “lotus flower” we can refer to any of the two plant species of the nelumbonaceae family, aquatic plants found in the eastern world and subtropical Asia (Nelumbo nucifera), or in the eastern United States and Central America (Nelumbo lutea). The former is known as the Indian lotus, Nile rose or sacred lotus, while the latter is known as the American lotus.

Of both species, however, the sacred lotus is probably the most popular, due to its mystical and symbolic connotations linked to different eastern traditions, particularly those of Ancient Egypt, India and China, as well as the imaginary of Buddhism. In fact, in Sanskrit it was called padma, and his name is part of Buddhist mantras and prayers such as the famous om mani padme hum (“Om, jewel in the lotus, hum!”).

In botanical terms, the lotus flower It is a herbaceous plant, whose very fragrant flowers are between 16 and 23 centimeters in diameter, varying its color between white, pale pink and intense pink.

It usually blooms at the end of spring and in summer, its seeds have a prodigious longevity, capable of keeping them fertile for centuries. It also has edible rhizomes, although its main use is decorative, in water gardens and similar facilities.

Where does the lotus flower grow?

lotus flower where it creates
The lotus flower grows in Asia, Oceania, the United States, and Central America.

The lotus flower is aquatic by nature, so silver grows on the surface of ponds and lagoons, with their round leaves floating or emerging from the water.

Its flowers, on the other hand, emerge from a long stem and are held in the air. This plant is common in southern Russia (the delta of the Volga River), in Azerbaijan, Iran, Siberia, China, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Korea, Laos, Taiwan, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam , Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, New Guinea and Australia, as well as in southern Romania, where it was artificially introduced.

Its American variant, on the other hand, is native to the United States and the entire Pacific coast that descends through Central America to Colombia.

What does the lotus flower represent?

One of the most important features of the lotus flower in its appearances in culture, has to do with the fact that the flower arises from the waters, which are usually swampy and dark, which is why it was often considered by the Egyptians ancient and in India, as a symbol of that which rises from below and reaches the elevation of the heights. Because Buddhism saw in her the symbol of the ascent to nirvana.

Also, next to the dung beetle, the sun and the phoenix, it was one of the Egyptian symbols for resurrection, since it is something beautiful born in the middle of inhospitable conditions, such as muddy waters or swamps. In this sense, they usually appear, in different colors, in numerous ancient oriental artistic representations.

Meanings according to the color of the lotus flower

The lotus flower is often represented with specific colors, each linked to a certain sense or quality, although the natural colors of the flower are not usually so varied. For instance:

  • Blue lotus flower: wisdom and knowledge.
  • White lotus flower: purity and immaculate nature.
  • Red lotus flower: compassion and suffering for others.
  • Pink lotus flower: divinity, often linked to specific deities, including the Buddha himself.

Lotus flower in Buddhism

lotus flower buddhism
Buddha is usually depicted on a lotus flower, which represents the path to nirvana.

As we have explained previously, the Buddhist tradition found in the lotus flower a metaphor for the fundamental approach of its doctrine, which is the elevation of the human spirit above worldly conditions and desires, which anchor him to a perishable and long-suffering existence. The enlightened mind, thus, must rise to nirvana just as the lotus flower rises from the waters in which the plant floats, to the airs above.

This is reflected in the Buddhist schools inherited from the Japanese monk Nichiren (1222-1282), whose supreme text is the Mahayana Sutra of the Lotus (Myoho Renge Kyo), its main mantra being Namu Myoho Renge Kyo (“Praise the truth of the wonderful lotus sutra”).