Padma

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By Swami Harshananda

Padma literally means ‘lotus’.

Varied Meanings of Padma

‘Padma’ is one of the most widely used words in the Sanskrit language with a variety of meanings such as:

  • Lotus flower
  • Certain marks on the face of an elephant
  • A particular formation of an army
  • The cakras[1]
  • One of the nine treasures of Kubera[2]
  • The number 1019

Symbolical Significance of Padma

However, the lotus also is widely used as a symbol and a decorative motif in temples and other types of buildings. Its symbolical significance may be explained as follows:

  • The lotus bud is born in water and unfolds itself into a beautiful flower. Hence it is taken as a symbol of the universe coming out of the primeval waters and manifesting itself in all its glory.
  • It is also taken as a symbol of the sun.
  • It rises from the navel of Viṣṇu and is the seat of Brahmā, the creator. Hence it denotes the sacredness associated with it.
  • The Mahābhārata[3][4] mentions one Padma, as the king of serpents, extremely sagacious and full of great wisdom.
  • Padmā is one of the names of the goddess Lakṣmī since she is seated on a lotus and wears a lotus garland.

References

  1. Cakras are the psychic centers in the body.
  2. Kubera is the god of wealth.
  3. Sabhāparva 9
  4. Śāntiparva 363-371
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore