To enrich our encounter with the world of the
sutra, this page provides images of flowers mentioned in the
Sanghata. Artists (or the artistically-inclined) are warmly
invited to contribute their own renderings of scenes or images from the
Sanghata, for inclusion on an upcoming page on this website, Picturing
the World of the Sanghata. For details on how to contribute
your images, please contact Damcho through this link: Contact us
In the Words of the Sanghata:
A shower of fragrant waters rained down on the
systems of the ten directions. A shower of útpala flowers,
lotuses, kúmuda flowers and white lotuses rained down on the
world systems of the ten directions, and they all remained as
flower-canopies above the heads of all those sentient beings.
- Arya Sanghata Sutra
Website of the Arya Sanghata Sutra
Flowers in the Sanghata
It does not take long to notice that the narrator of the Sanghata has a
keen sensitivity to differences between types of flowers, as indeed do
many authors of Sanskrit
literature. Whereas in English if we wish to speak of lotuses,
we say only 'white lotus' or 'blue lotus,' Sanskrit has names
each variety, and the narrator of the Sanghata is often
careful to tell
us precisely what sort of flowers are being scattered. To educate our
own imaginations and help us better visualize the world described in
this page offers images of the types of flowers mentioned
in the Sanghata,
as well as of the palmyra tree that is sometimes used as a measure of
height in the Sanghata.
'Utpala' is often translated simply as blue lotus, a name that hardly
seems to do justice to this exquisite flower. Its botanical name
is Nymphaea Caerulea. Utpalas come in several varieties, as
be noted in the difference between the two utpalas pictured below.
Below several utpala flowers grow in clusters in a pond at Bhandarkar
Institute in Pune, India. This 'blue' lotus is actually a delicate
shade of indigo.
There are actually two types of champaka flower. One has yellow or
the other is often simply green, or greenish-white.
showy visually, it is the champaka with green flowers that gives off an
exquisite fragrance. The champaka and jasmine are both named in the
Sanghata for their fragrance. Until Web browsers can support
scratch-and-sniff functionality, we will have to make do with
photos. Or if you live in a warm enough climate, you can ask
plant shop to order you some 'champaka' for your garden'! The two photos above come from Monrovia, an online vendor of plants that supplies champaka. The two below were taken in Visakhapatnam, India.
One always knows when one is passing a jasmine bush at night.
Somehow its distinct fragrance manages to pervade the air
overpowering the senses or losing its delicacy. The flowers themselves
are lovely in the day as well, and women in different parts of India
can be seen today with garlands of jasmine and campaka flowers
in their hair,
scenting even as they beautify. The photos below are of a jasmine bush
growing in my Sanskrit teacher's yard in south India.
White Lotus (Pundarika)
The kumuda is known as a kind of waterlily that opens to the moonlight,
and is much valued for its evocative power in Sanskrit poetry.
Towering above its surroundings, this seriously tall tree is also known
as the 'toddy palm.' This photo was taken from a hilltop in south India
that once housed a major monastic complex and dozens of stupas. the
palmyra tree in the center can be seen hovering high above all
surrounding trees, with a few younger palmyras to the left. The palmyra
trees pictured are growing from the valley below and the tallest reach
almost as high as the hilltop.