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Nature, light, water, spirit

Description of this motif: Quote from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, March 20, 2006:

Nelumbo nucifera

Hindus associate the lotus blossom with creation mythology, and with the gods Vishnu, Brahma, and Lakshmi. From ancient times the lotus has been a divine symbol in Hindu tradition. It is often used as an example of divine beauty, for example Sri Krishna is often described as the 'Lotus-Eyed One'. Its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul. The growth of its pure beauty from the mud of its origin holds a benign spiritual promise. Recall that both Brahma and Lakshmi, the Divinities of potence and Wealth, have the lotus symbol associated with them as their seats. (...)

The lotus flower is quoted exstensively within Puranic and Vedic literature, for example.

One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water. Bhagavad Gita 5.10

Borrowing from Hinduism, in Buddhist symbolism, the lotus represents purity of body, speech, and mind, floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. The Buddha is often depicted sitting on a giant lotus leaf or blossom.

The concept of spriritual beauty rising from dirt fits well with Andersen's – and romanticism's – ideals and philosophy. Cf. the destiny of the ugly duckling or the little mermaid, not to mention Andersen's autobiographies.

Example :

"It was a wedding celebration," related the Moon. "Songs were sung and toasts proposed; everything was rich and splendid. It was past midnight before the guest departed. The mothers kissed the bride and groom; then they were alone. I saw them through the window, although the curtains were almost drawn; a lamp lighted the cozy room.

" 'Thank heaven they have left!' he said, and kissed her hands and lips. She smiled and cried, resting her head on his chest as happily as the lotus flower rests on the flowing water. And they spoke soft and blissful words.

" 'Sleep sweetly!' he exclaimed, as she drew the window curtains aside.

" 'How beautifully the moon is shining!' she said; 'see how quiet and how clear it is.' And she put out the lamp; it became dark in the cozy room, but my light then shone, as brightly as his eyes shone.

"Femininity, kiss thou the poet's harp when he sings of the mysteries of life!"