Lotus Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Author: Jessica Tracy

Meaning of Lotus Flower

Have you ever heard of Padma?

It is the Hindu name for the iconic Lotus Flower, which plays an important symbolic role in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. 

Lotus is one of the most beautiful flowers, which can only grow only in the mud and whose petals open one by one.

While the roots of the lotus grow in the mud, the flower itself blossoms and rises above the water

Buddhists see it as a beautiful metaphor for our life:

Mud represents the suffering and obstacles of life, and the lotus flower symbolizes our journey of overcoming these obstacles.

You can interpret it as a progression from a state of vexation to a state of purity.

We will all face similar challenges in life: sadness, illness, loneliness, disappointment, failure, and death.

Through these experiences, we gain more wisdom, compassion, kindness, and learn how to rise above the mud of the environment.

We should all strive to become a better version of ourselves as we grow and overcome obstacles in life one by one - just like the lotus flower opens each petal one by one.

So what is the deeper meaning of this metaphor, and where did the Lotus Flower originate? 

This is what we shall explore in this article, and go on to understand its great importance in our life.

Boy holding Lotus Flower on the river

Lotus Sutra

One of the most important Buddhist scriptures is called the Lotus Sutra. 

'The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law' (Saddharma-pundarika-sutra) was originally written in Sanskrit (the sacred language of India) and translated into many languages.

Lotus Sutra consists of 28 chapters and brings to light one of the paramount and deepest teachings of the Buddha: the lotus flower, which grows out of the mud, cannot be tainted by it. Without the mud, there can be no lotus.

In other words, our suffering (the ‘mud of life’) and happiness (manifestation of beautiful lotus flower) are not separate.

The ultimate goal of a person who decides to follow Buddha's teachings in this sutra is to keep the mind pure and awake, regardless of the difficulties and hardships of life.

What is 'The Threefold Lotus Sutra'?

Lotus Sutra is The Main Sutra, which comes along with 2 other sutras: The Opening Sutra and The Closing Sutra. 

The entire Lotus Sutra Trilogy consists of the following scriptures:

  • The Opening Sutra: The Sutra of Innumerable Teachings (3 chapters)
  • The Main Sutra: The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law (28 chapters)
  • The Closing Sutra: The Sutra of Beholding the Practices if the Bodhisattva Samantahhadra (1 chapter)

Lotus Flower Sutra Buddha Quote


Lotus Flower in Ancient Egypt

Let's take a quick look at the history and origins of the beautiful Lotus Flower.

The Lotus Flower symbolism can find its roots in the land of Ancient Egypt.

In Ancient Egypt, white and blue lotuses (waterlilies) were common and native to this land

These lotuses are also known as Nile Lotuses: Nymphaea caerulea (Blue Egyptian water lily)  and Nymphaea lotus (White Egyptian water lily).

They were depicted in Ancient Egyptian art, hieroglyphs, and paintings as symbols of fertility, a new beginning, and purity.

Blue Egyptian water lily Nymphaea caerulea

White Egyptian water lily Nymphaea lotus

Pink Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), also known as Sacred Lotus, appeared in Egypt in 525 BC, ahead of the Persian invasion.

Pink Lotus became much more popular and started to gradually displace native, Nile Lotuses. 

The Egyptians believed that it was more valuable and better suited for their mysterious rituals of birth and rebirth.

Because lotus flowers close at night and open in the morning, they were very often used at funerals symbolizing the idea of resurrection, where life returns after death.

The same daily cycle of lotus flower was also associated with the rising sun, and Egyptians worshiped the Sun as God.

The lotus was called "the redolent flower, the soul of Ra".


Lotus Flower Meaning in Buddhism 

The Lotus Flower is one of the most important symbols in Buddhism as it represents our entire path to enlightenment and the doctrine that all beings can attain the state of Buddha by becoming a bodhisattva.

In Buddhism lore, the lotus flower signifies purity, spirituality, and self-cleaning. 

Lotus flower symbolism is associated with the natural phenomenon of a pure lotus rising from within murky waters and sustaining its beauty regardless of the surroundings.

A familiar sight in Buddhist mythology is the boy Buddha rising from the lotus flower. 

Lotus Flower Meaning in Hinduism

In Hinduism, the lotus flower is associated with beauty, prosperity, and fertility

The most common form of this flower in this faith is the white lotus, which has strong connections with Lakshmi, Brahma, and Vishnu.

The Hindu god Vishnu, known for his blinding beauty and purity, is referred to as the “Lotus-Eyed One”. 

Pink Lotus Sacred Lotus - Nelumbo nucifera

Lotus Flower Color Meaning

Lotus Flower can be found in nature in many different colors, such as:

  • White Lotus Flower
  • Pink Lotus Flower
  • Blue Lotus Flower
  • Pink Lotus Flower
  • Red Lotus Flower

Buddhism portrays various colors of lotuses, each of which has its significance and symbolism. 

The blue lotus signifies the superiority of spirit over knowledge and intelligence. 

The white lotus symbolizes a state of awakening or enlightenment, also known as Bodhi. This particular flower is also regarded as the womb of the world.

The purple one is depicted with eight petals, which represent Buddha’s eightfold path to the noble truth

The red lotus has strong connotations about the heart, therefore, it stands as a symbol of pure love and compassion. 

Finally, the pink lotus is the supreme lotus, which is regarded as the true lotus of Buddha himself.

Your Lotus Flower Expression

It is not uncommon for Buddhist principles and beliefs to seep into the mainstream culture, and that is exactly what happened with the lotus flower, which can now be seen adorning T-shirts and even appearing in comic strips.

Lotus Flower jewelry became very popular among individuals of all backgrounds as a way of expressing themselves, or simply as a way of making a fashion statement.

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One thought on “Lotus Flower Meaning and Symbolism

  1. avatar Lorna Davidson says:

    BRILLIANT, informative, a joy to read and absorb.

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