the waters, and all that he was able to discern with his eight eyes was water and darkness.
Amid scenes so ungenial and dismal, the god sank into a profound reverie, when he thus soliloquized: “Who am I?
Whence am I?
” In this state of abstraction Brahma continued during the period of a century and a half of the gods, without apparent benefit or a solution of his inquiries,— a circumstance which caused him great uneasiness of mind.’
It is a comfort, however, to know that subsequently a voice came to him, on which he rose, ‘seated himself upon the Lotus in an attitude of contemplation, and reflected upon the Eternal
, who soon appeared to him in the form of a man with a thousand heads,’ —a questionable exchange for his Lotus-solitude.
This is Brahminism; but the other great form of Oriental
religion has carried the same fair symbol with it. One of the Bibles of the Buddhists is named ‘The White Lotus of the Good Law
A pious Nepaulese bowed in reverence before a vase of lilies which perfumed the study of Sir William Jones
At sunset in Thibet, the French
missionaries tell us, every inhabitant of every village prostrates himself in the public square, and the holy invocation, ‘O, the gem in the Lotus!’
goes murmuring over hill and valley, like the sound of many bees.
It is no unmeaning phrase, but an utterance of ardent desire to be absorbed into that Brahma whose emblem is the sacred flower.
This mystic formula or ‘mani’ is imprinted on the pavement of the streets, it floats on flags from the temples, and the wealthy Buddhists
maintain sculptor-missionaries, Old Mortalities of the water-lily, who, wandering to distant lands, carve the blessed words upon cliff and stone.
Having got thus far into Orientalism, we can hardly expect to get out again without some slight entanglement in philology.
? No other leaf is identified with that singular monosyllable.
Has our floating Lotus-leaf any connection with padding, or with a footpad?
with the ambling pad of an abbot, or a paddle, or a paddock, or a padlock?
With many-domed Padua proud, or with St. Patrick?
Is the name derived from the Anglo-Saxon paad
, or the Greek πατεω
All the etymologists are silent; Tooke
ignore the problem; and of the innumerable pamphlets in the Worcester and Webster Controversy, loading the tables of schoolcommittee-men, not one ventures to grapple with the lily-pad.
But was there ever a philological trouble for which the Sanscrit could not afford at least a conjectural cure?
A dictionary of that extremely venerable tongue is an ostrich's stomach, which can crack the hardest etymological nut. The Sanscrit
name for the Lotus is simply Padma
. The learned Brahmins call the Egyptian
deities Padma Devi, or Lotus-Gods; the second of the eighteen Hindoo Puranas is styled the Padma Purana
, because it treats of the ‘epoch ’