Lotus Carrying Namam

 Yigal Ben Efraim
Lotus Carrying Namam

The symbol of the Ayyavazhi is a lotus carrying a flame-shaped white 'Namam'. The lotus represents the 1,008-petalled Sahasrara (in Tamil, Ladam) and the Namam represents the Aanma Jyothi or atman, sometimes translated as "soul" or "self".

There are references for Thirunamam in both primary and secondary scriptures, Akilattirattu Ammanai and Arul Nool. Though the overall consideration of the whole contents of Akilam focuses on the concept derived from the symbol 'Lotus carrying Namam', it seems that there is no direct reference for it in the scriptures. But according to some legends this symbol was in use in Ayyavazhi from the early forties of the twentieth century.

Since the Sahasrara is symbolised as Lotus, no stem is drawn while designing art of the symbol. Seven(up) + seven(down) petals are used commonly. Also a new way of architecture is being developed in constructing Nizhal Thangals in which the inverted Lotus petals (as in sahasrara) are used as a design over the roof.

The Sahasrara, symbolised in Ayyavazhi as 'Lotus carrying Namam'

The mythical narration of akilam about the eight yugas is often viewed philosophically as eight chakras. The first Neetiya Yukam as Bindu and the final state of absolute bliss, Sahasrara is said to be the Dharma Yukam. In this series the energy of consciousness of oneself is to raised from Bindu (Neetiya Yukam) to the final Sahasrara (Dharma Yukam) to experience the absolute 'bliss'. The reigning power in the final Dharma Yukam(Sahasrara) is Ekam or the supreme absolute, and thus the Ayyavazhi's symbol seems to be derived from Akilam. And the symbol of Ayyavazhi, 'Lotus with Namam' shows it; Vaikundar is being experienced in Sahasrara.

As per Hindu legends this Sahasrara chakra has '1000 petals' . But in Ayyavazhi symbolism it was considered as 1008. In Akilam or Arul Nool there are no verses to treat this term '1000' but quite commonly the number '1008' is mentioned. Also the year of incarnation of Vaikundar is 1008 M.E. On backing these scriptural backgrounds, 1008 petal arrangement is followed in Ayyavazhi symbolism.

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