Because the lotus rises from impurity (unclean water) to blossom as a pure, uncontaminated flower, it is a symbol of purity.
The individual consciousness does the same on its path to enlightenment as the so-called impurities of unenlightened thinking gradually fade.
Uniqueness of the lotus flower
In the Eastern scriptures, the Inner Awareness, the Inner (or Spiritual) HEART is also depicted as the Lotus Flower (Kamal-ਕਮਲ).
A bird flies in the sky without leaving any mark, a fish swims in the water without making any footprints, and the swan swims across the stream without getting wet. Similarly, although the lotus flower lives in the water of slimy scum, but it remains untouched. In the same way, the scriptural texts urge us to live amidst the so called impurities of the material world without being affected.
- ਜੈਸੇ ਜਲ ਮਹਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਨਿਰਾਲਮੁ ਮੁਰਗਾਈ ਨੈ ਸਾਣੇ ॥ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਭਵ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਤਰੀਐ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਖਾਣੇ ॥: The lotus flower floats untouched upon the surface of the water, and the duck swims through the stream (i.e., without getting feathers wet); (similarly) O Nanak! With consciousness focused on the Shabad, one crosses over the terrifying world-ocean (of Maya). (sggs 938).
The Heart-Lotus is the seat of the Pure Consciousness. This is the Spiritual-Center, the Support or the Adhaar of life and everything else. Juts as the waves rise from the ocean, subsist in the ocean and then merge back into the ocean; similarly, thoughts (mind) rise from this Substratum, on which they exist and where they are dissolved. Thus, this Heart-Lotus is the is the Center of the Infinite. Thus Center of all centers, Heart-Lotus is a symbol for the macrocosm and the microcosm, the universe and man.
- ਚਾਰੇ ਅਗਨਿ ਨਿਵਾਰਿ ਮਰੁ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਲੁ ਪਾਇ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸਿਆ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਭਰਿਆ ਅਘਾਇ ॥: Becoming the Gurmukh, through the Hari’s Naam-Water, quench the four fires. (Thus) the Lotus blossoms within, and (Heart) gets filled with Amrit (Naam). (sggs 22).
Thus, the Heart-Lotus is Spiritual; without any feature or form (i.e., Niraakaar). As mentioned in the Gurbani, it represents the Subtle-Center and not the physical center. It is the Spiritual-Center connecting the whole Universe.
- ਸਰੀਰ ਸਰੋਵਰ ਭੀਤਰੇ ਆਛੈ ਕਮਲ ਅਨੂਪ ॥ ਪਰਮ ਜੋਤਿ ਪੁਰਖੋਤਮੋ ਜਾ ਕੈ ਰੇਖ ਨ ਰੂਪ ॥੧॥: (O mind!) The Srovar (Pool) is within the body. (In this body-Srovar) there is an incomparably beautiful Lotus Flower (Heart). The Formless, Supreme Light of the Divine is within it. ||1|| (sggs 857).
Man’s language is limited. But the Absolute Truth the SGGS trying to explain using this limited human language is unlimited and infinite. Thus it cannot be grasped directly. However, with the help of illustrations, it becomes relatively easier to grasp. Consequently, once the significance of such illustrations is grasped, one comes to understand the real nature of one’s Mool (Source, Jot…) and this material world (Maya). At the places of worship, it is generally seen people offering regular flowers, garlands of flowers, or bouquets of flowers, etc.
However, the Gurbani asks us that we offer the Flower of the Lotus Of our Heart (‘ਹਿਰਦੈ ਕਮਲੁ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸਿਆ’), not flowers from the garden or a shop!
Why does the Gurbani teaches us to offer our Heart-Lotus instead of regular flowers?
According to the Gurbani, the person whose Heart-Lotus is blossomed forth is filled with the Amrit (Naam, Shabad, Wisdom, Virtues…); his mind rests in his Mool (Source, Jot Saroop...); he is free of the false ego-sense (Haumai); he is established in Sahaj (the natural state of Being, Giaan Avasthaa…); he is always in Bliss; his ignorance is dispelled; he is filled with the Wisdom; he has become the Gurmukh…
- ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਇਕਿ ਭਏ ਉਦਾਸਾ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਮਲੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ॥: Following the Gurmat (Teaching of the SGGS) some become desireless. Within (them) is the Naam, and their Heart-Lotus blossoms forth (sggs 412).
- ਕਮਲੁ ਬਿਗਾਸਿ ਮਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਲਾਗੈ ॥: The Heart-Lotus becoming bloom, the mind becomes linked to Mool (Source, Jot) (sggs 153).
- ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ॥: (Who serve their Satigur through the Shabad, their) Egotism is subdued, and the Heart-Lotus blossoms forth (sggs 161).
- ਗਿਆਨ ਮਤੀ ਕਮਲ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ॥: Through the intellect of the Divine Wisdom (of the Gur-Shabad) the Heart-Lotus blossoms forth (sggs 1277).
The Way of the Gurmat described in the foregoing verses (and many more) is very arduous. The Gurbani says only a ‘rare’ one embarks on it.
Hence the ‘Parpanch-ਪਰਪੰਚ‘ (engrossment in duality or illusion (Maya), deception, ostentation, trick…)!
Because, it’s much easier to pluck flowers from the garden or buy them from a flower-shop and offer!
But, not that easy to offer the Heart-Lotus!!
As an easy alternate, the doubt-ridden or illusioned mind picks up regular flowers and offers them! This is the Mayaic mind’s trickery ( ‘Parpanch‘) — trying to take the easy way out!!
- ਫੂਲੁ ਭਵਰਿ ਜਲੁ ਮੀਨਿ ਬਿਗਾਰਿਓ ॥੧॥ ਮਾਈ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਪੂਜਾ ਕਹਾ ਲੈ ਚਰਾਵਉ ॥ ਅਵਰੁ ਨ ਫੂਲੁ ਅਨੂਪੁ ਨ ਪਾਵਉ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: The bumble bee has contaminated the flower, and the fish the water. ||1|| O mother (i.e., O my intellect…)! Where shall (I) find any offering for the Poojaa? (I) cannot realize Incomparable (Gobind: Mool, Source…) with these inferior flowers. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 525).
- ਨਾਮੁ ਤੇਰੋ ਤਾਗਾ ਨਾਮੁ ਫੂਲ ਮਾਲਾ ਭਾਰ ਅਠਾਰਹ ਸਗਲ ਜੂਠਾਰੇ ॥: (I have made) Your Naam the thread, and Your Naam the garland of flowers. All vegetation (where from flowers are gathered) are all too impure (sggs 694).
- ਭਰਮਿ ਭੂਲੇ ਅਗਿਆਨੀ ਅੰਧੁਲੇ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਫੂਲ ਤੋਰਾਵੈ ॥: The ignorant, the (mentally) blind, and the doubt-ridden; roam around picking flowers (to offer to their idols). (sggs 1264).
- ਆਨੀਲੇ ਫੂਲ ਪਰੋਈਲੇ ਮਾਲਾ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕੀ ਹਉ ਪੂਜ ਕਰਉ ॥ਪਹਿਲੇ ਬਾਸੁ ਲਈ ਹੈ ਭਵਰਹ ਬੀਠਲ ਭੈਲਾ ਕਾਇ ਕਰਉ ॥੨॥: Aaneele phul… ||2|| (sggs 485).
Accordingly, instead, the Gurbani repeatedly asks us to offer the Lotus of the Heart that is blooming with the Shabad!!
- ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਾ ॥੭॥: Through the Gur-Shabad, Heart-Lotus blossoms forth. ||7|| (sggs 224).
- ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਮਿਲੈ ਤ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਭਾਗੈ ॥ ਕਮਲੁ ਬਿਗਾਸਿ ਮਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਲਾਗੈ ॥: Obtaining the Satigur (the Divine Guide, the Divine Wisdom of Truth: ਸੱਚ ਦਾ ਗਿਆਨ…), duality is dispelled. (His) Heart-Lotus blossoms forth, and the mind gets linked to (his) Mool (sggs 153).
- ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਅਰਪਉ ਪੂਜ ਚਰਾਵਉ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦਿ ਨਿਰੰਜਨੁ ਪਾਵਉ ॥੪॥: Dedicate body and mind and offer as Poojaa. By the Grace Of the Gur (-Giaan, or Wisdom), realize Niranjan (Universal Energy that is Untainted, or beyond Maya’s influence…). (sggs 525).
- ਗਿਆਨ ਹੀਣੰ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪੂਜਾ ॥ ਅੰਧ ਵਰਤਾਵਾ ਭਾਉ ਦੂਜਾ ॥: Bereft of Spiritual Wisdom, (people) worship or adore ignorance. In the love of duality (in love of Maya, their) conduct or behavior (keeps them mentally blind or ignorant. (sggs 1412).
Such person is not interested in the Naam or the Bhagti etc. consciousness is stubborn, and the words from his mouth are insipid. Such people are not interested engaging in Shabad-Vichaar because within them are Bikaar (lust, anger, greed etc.), falsehood, Bharam or doubts, corrupt intellect (Durmat), hunger for Maya, etc.
- ਮਨਮੁਖੁ ਊਧਾ ਕਉਲੁ ਹੈ ਨਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਗਤਿ ਨ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਸਕਤੀ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਵਰਤਦਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੈ ਉਪਾਉ ॥: The Manmukh is like the inverted lotus; he has neither Bhagti nor Naam. He deals in Maya; (thus) his efforts are false. (sggs 511).
The Opposite of Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree is the Gurmukh. Therefore, the state of upright heart-lotus means to be situated in the Wisdom (AAtam-Giaan).
In short, a Gurmukh (Bhagat, Daas, Jan…) is a Wise person, brave person, good person, virtuous person, fearless, blissful (Anand), pious person, Joyful, always positive, etc. (ਵਿਦਵਾਨ, ਬਹਾਦੁਰ, ਭਲਾ, ਨੇਕ, ਗੁਣੀ, ਖੁਸ਼, ਹਮੇਸ਼ਾ ਚੜ੍ਹਦੀ ਕਲਾ ਵਿਚ…).
- ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਕਮਲੁ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸੀਐ ਭਾਈ ਰਿਦੈ ਹੋਵੈ ਪਰਗਾਸੁ ॥: By becoming the Gurmukh, the (Heart-) Lotus blossoms forth, and the Heart becomes illumined (by the Divine Wisdom). (sggs 640).
- ਬੁਧਵਾਰਿ ਬੁਧਿ ਕਰੈ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸ ॥ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਕਮਲ ਮਹਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਬਾਸ ॥ ਗੁਰ ਮਿਲਿ ਦੋਊ ਏਕ ਸਮ ਧਰੈ ॥ ਉਰਧ ਪੰਕ ਲੈ ਸੂਧਾ ਕਰੈ ॥੪॥: On Wednesday (i.e, through the example of “Wednesday”, the Gurbani Teaches us that a Sikh’s Wednesday is the day his) intellect becomes Enlightened (with the Gur-Giaan, Gurmat, Divine Wisdom). (Upon intellect becoming so Enlightened, he) realizes Hari (Mool, Source, Jot…) within the Heart-Lotus. Meeting the Gur (Gur-Giaan, Divine Wisdom…), one comes to look both ( ਆਤਮ ਤੇ ਪਰਮਾਤਮ-Aatam and Parmaatam) as One, and the inverted lotus (the mind under the spell of Maya, etc.) is turned upright (becomes Enlightened…). ||4|| (sggs 344).