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
- One of the nine treasures of Kubera
- 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 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.
- Cakras are the psychic centers in the body.
- Kubera is the god of wealth.
- Sabhāparva 9
- Śāntiparva 363-371
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore