Padma

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

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