Sitha and Grandma Rukmini are sitting by the lake, watching the white lotus flowers in full bloom.
GRANDMA : Isn’t the lotus such a beautiful flower Sitha ? When you see the white lotus, which Goddess comes to your mind?
SITHA : Goddess Saraswathi ! She’s always seated on a white lotus! Why does she sit on the white lotus Grandma?
GRANDMA: I will tell you Little One. In our culture, the white lotus is a symbol of great knowledge. You know of course that Goddess Saraswathi is the Hindu Goddess of learning, and the Goddess for all fields of knowledge and all the arts. So you see, our goddess of knowledge is shown seated on a white lotus which is the symbol of knowledge itself. How apt it is!
SITHA: That’s beautiful Grandma! Tell me more!
GRANDMA: Not only is the white lotus a symbol of knowledge, but it is also considered a divine and pure flower and it is said that within us is our soul which is also divine and pure like the white lotus.
Have you noticed that this beautiful flower rises from the soil beneath, through muddy waters and comes out into the light and fresh air? It is unspoilt by the dirt around it and when it blooms, it’s pristine beauty amazes us. Likewise, even if we sometimes see negative things around us, we should not get drawn to that, but rise above it all to the light or to positive things. Do you understand what I mean my girl?
SITHA: Hmm….. I think so….
GRANDMA: Let me explain. The other day remember you told me that your teacher was warning a child in your class who was copying in the test? Well, seeing him, some other child should not get tempted to do the same in order to get good marks. One should not get drawn to the bad or negative things that we see around us. One should be a beautiful or good person and rise above the dirt like the lotus and remain clean or good despite our surroundings.
Our Bhagavad Gita too says that like water rolls off and doesn’t wet a lotus leaf, we too should let negative things roll off or not touch us. This means that we should not indulge in anything that is bad or harmful.
SITHA: That’s wonderful Grandma! Not only is our white lotus a beautiful flower, but it has a beautiful meaning too.
DID YOU KNOW?
Various colours of the lotus symbolise the state of one’s spiritual progress in Buddhism.
A highly enlightened person is shown by using the pink lotus. It is used to symbolise the Buddha. For a person who has embarked on the spiritual path towards God, the blue lotus (blue water lily) is used. The white lotus is in a place between these two states and is used to show someone in the state of realising or knowing God.
The 8th of May is known as the “White Lotus Day”. The significance of this day is to make people recall and reflect on the symbolic meaning of the lotus.