Buddhish Mudra


Mudrās (Sanskrit, मुद्रा, literally "seal") are religious gestures, normally made with the hands or fingers, used in meditation, iconography, dance, and ritual, which are said to have deeper symbolic meaning and power. Mudras are an important part of Hinduism and Buddhism and they are frequently utilized in Indian meditation, yoga, and devotional practice. There are numerous types of mudras and they are said to have specific qualities that can be imparted to practitioners. (New World Encyclopedia)

 

Bhumisparsha Mudra

Bhumisparsha Mudra

#1: Bhumisparsha Mudra
This gesture is also called "thouching the earth" mudra or "calling the earth to witness" mudra. Literally Bhumisparsha translates into 'touching the earth'. This gesture calls upon the earth to witness Shakyamuni Buddha's enlightenment at Bodh Gaya.
A seated figure's right hand with palm inward, hanging over the knee, reaches toward the ground. All five fingers of the right hand are extended downward to touch the lotus throne.

Image source: #1: Bhumisparsha Mudra

Abhaya mudra

Abhaya mudra   Double abhaya mudra

#2a: Abhaya mudra#2b: Double abhaya mudra
The Abhaya mudra ("mudra of no-fear") represents protection, peace, benevolence, and dispelling of fear. In the Theravada, it is usually made with the right hand raised to shoulder height, the arm bent and the palm facing outward and the fingers extended upwards and the left hand hanging down while standing.
In Thailand and Laos, this mudra is associated with the walking Buddha, often shown having both hands making a double Abhaya mudra that is uniform.
The gesture was used by the Buddha when attacked by an elephant, subduing it as shown in several frescoes and scripts. In Mahayana, the northern schools' deities often paired it with another mudra using the other hand. In Japan, when the Abhaya mudra is used with the middle finger slightly projected forward, it is a symbol of the Shingon sect.

Image source: #2a: Abhaya mudra#2b: Double abhaya mudra


 

Anjali Mudra

Anjali Mudra

#3: Anjali Mudra (Namaskara Mudra)
Anjali mudra is performed by pressing the palms of the hands together. The fingers are together with fingertips pointing up. The hands are pressed together firmly and evenly.
In the most common form of anjali mudra, the hands are held at the heart chakra with thumbs resting lightly against the sternum. The gesture may also be performed at the brow chakra with thumb tips resting against the "third eye" or at the crown chakra (above the head). In some yoga postures, the hands are placed in anjali mudra position to one side of the body or behind the back.
Anjali mudra is normally accompanied by a slight bowing of the head.
Westerners associate this gesture with prayer, but in Buddhism the anjali mudra represents "suchness" (tathata) -- the true nature of all things, beyond distinction.
The term anjali literally means “two handfuls’, and is derived from the cupped hands being pressed edge to edge.

Image source: #3: Anjali Mudra

Varada Mudra

Varada Mudra Varada Mudra and Abhaya mudra

#4a: Varada Mudra#4b: Varada Mudra and Abhaya mudra
The Varada mudra ("favourable mudra") is customarily used whenever a blessing is being offered. It is a gesture of charity to fulfil all wishes. The gesture of generosity is made with the palm and all of the extended fingers held outwards and downwards. It represents ‘open-handed’ generosity as charity or the granting of wishes. This may be the right hand, but it is often made with the left hand, when the varada mudra is combined with the abhaya mudra. The right hand makes the fearless gesture of abhaya and the left hand is in wish-granting varada.
The varada mudra represents compassion and wish-granting. It is also associated with the Dhyani Buddha Ratnasambhava. The Varada mudra is extensively used in the statues of East Asia.

Image source: #4a: Varada Mudra#4b: Varada Mudra and Abhaya mudra


 

Dharmachakra Mudra

Dharmachakra Mudra

#5: Dharmachakra Mudra
Dharmachakra in Sanskrit means the 'Wheel of Dharma' and this mudra position represents the turning of the wheel of the Dharma and is referred to as the ‘teaching gesture’.
The Dharmacakra mudra represents a central moment in the life of Buddha when he preached his first sermon after his Enlightenment, in Deer Park in Sarnath.
Dharmacakra mudra is formed with both hands positioned in front of the heart, having the right palm forward and the left palm upward and inward, facing the chest. The thumb and index finger of both hands touch at their tips to form a circle representing the Wheel of Dharma. The three remaining fingers of the two hands remain extended. These fingers are themselves rich in symbolic significance representing the various Buddhist trinities. Significantly, in this mudra, the hands are held in front of the heart, symbolizing that these teachings are straight from the Buddha's heart. The right ‘method’ palm facing outwards represent the transmission of the Buddha’s teaching to others, and the left ‘wisdom’ palm facing inwards represents the inner realization of these teachings within oneself. The positioning of the left ‘wisdom’ hand in front of the right ‘method’ hand symbolizes that skillful means arises from wisdom.
The dharmachakra mudra is the gesture of Dhyani Buddha Vairocana, the ‘Radiantly Bright’ white Buddha of the center. Many Buddha forms, such as Shakyamuni, Dipankara, Maitreya, and Manjugosha (Orange Manjushri), display this mudra of teaching from the heart.
There are several variants such as in the frescoes of Ajanta, India where the two hands are separated, and the fingers do not touch. The teaching may also be made with only the right hand held before the heart in dharmachakra mudra, whilst the left hand rest upon the lap in the dhyana mudra.

Image source: #5: Dharmachakra Mudra

Dhyana Mudra

Dhyana Mudra
Dhyana Mudra

#6a: Dhyana Mudra#6b: Mida-no-Join Mediation Mudra
The Dhyana mudra ("meditation mudra") is the gesture of meditation or concentration (Sanskrit: samadhi mudra).
The Dhyana mudra may be made with one or both hands. When made with both hands, the hands are generally held at the level of the stomach or on the lap with the palms facing upwards, and the fingers extended. The right hand always rests upon the left hand. This symbolizes that the perfections of method (right hand) are supported by the perfection of wisdom (left hand). In some cases the thumbs of the two hands may touch at the tips, thus forming a triangle. The esoteric sects obviously attribute to this triangle a multitude of meanings, the most important being the identification with the mystic fire that consumes all impurities. This triangle is also said to represent the Three Jewels of Buddhism, namely the Buddha himself, the Good Law and the Sangha. In South East Asia, this mudra is frequently used in the image of the seated Buddha, the joined thumbs do not form a "mystic triangle" and are placed against the palm.
When only the left ‘wisdom’ hand makes this mudra, the right ‘method’ hand may be represented in any mudra, or may hold the specific attribute of the deity. The left hand making the Dhyana mudra in such cases symbolizes the female left-hand principle of wisdom. Ritual objects such as a text, or more commonly an alms bowl symbolizing renunciation, may be placed in the open palm of this left hand.
This mudra is extremely popular in Asia used in representations of the Sakyamuni Buddha and Amitabha Buddha. Sometimes the Dhyana mudra is used in certain representations of Bhaisajyaguru as the Medicine Buddha, with a medicine bowl placed on the hands. It originated in India most likely long before the Buddha as yogis have used it during their concentration, healing, and meditation exercises. (Dhyana mudra is also known as Samadhi mudra or Yoga mudra.) In Japan, this mudra (#6a) is called Zenjo-in (also called Hokkaijo-in) and is associated with Shaka Nyorai, Dainichi Nyorai, and Senju Kannon and rarely used for images of Amida Nyorai (Amitabha). Instead, Amida is portrayed almost exclusively with the Mida-no-Join Mediation Mudra (#6b) and this helps to differentiate between Dainichi and Amida. To form Mida-no-Join mudra: Middle, ring, and little fingers create a flat or slightly curved bed resting upon the lap. Two circles are formed with index fingers held together while extended upwards meeting the tips of both thumbs.(Click to see the image). Despite this variation, both mudra are still translated as “meditation mudra.” In addition, Zen artwork frequently portrays Shaka (the Historical Buddha) with the ordinary meditation mudra, but the position of both hands is often reversed (left on top of right, not right on top of left). This is called Zenshuyo-no-Shaka (Shaka in the Style of the Zen Sect).

Image source: #6a: Dhyana Mudra→ www.flickr.com #6b: Dhyana Mudra


 

Vajra mudra

Vajra mudra

#7: Vajra mudra
Literally “knowledge-fist mudra”, the Vajra mudra is formed by by enclosing the erect forefinger of the left hand in the right fist with the tip of the right forefinger touching (or curled around) the tip of the left forefinger. This is also known as the six elements mudra, the fist of wisdom mudra or by its Japanese name of Chi Ken-in. It symbolizes the unity of the five worldly elements (earth, water, fire, air, and metal) with spiritual consciousness. It is characteristic gesture of Dainichi Nyorai (Vairochana), an important Buddha to adherents of Esoteric Buddhism (Shingon), particularly in his form as Mahavaircana, the ‘Great Resplendent One’, as the white Lord of many of the early yogatantra mandalas. Although rare, sometimes the positions of the left and right hands are reversed. An alternative form of Vairocana’s bodhyangi mudra is made by enclosing the raised thumb of the left fist in the four clenched fingers of the right fist. Here the thumb symbolizes Vairocana at the center of the mandala, and the four embracing fingers of the right hand represent the four directional Buddhas that surround him.
The Vajra mudra transforms ignorance into wisdom. The mudra stresses the importance of Knowledge in the spiritual world and is also known as the Mudra of Supreme Wisdom. Another interpretation claims that the erect forefinger represents Knowledge, which is hidden by the world of appearances (the right fist). In Tibet, this mudra represents the perfect union between the deity and his feminine power.

Image source: #7: Vajra Mudra

Vitarka Mudra

Vitarka Mudra
Vitarka Mudra

#8a: Vitarka Mudra#8b: Vitarka Mudra
The Vitarka mudra ("mudra of discussion") is the gesture of discussion, intellectual argument and transmission of Buddhist teaching. While the right hand is held at chest level and palm outward, vitarka mudra is done by touching the tips of the thumb and the index together forming a circle, and keeping the other fingers pointing up. Sometimes the left hand is held with fingers pointing downward, at hip level, also with palm outward and with the thumb and index finger forming a circle. The circle formed by the thumb and index finger is the sign of the Wheel of Law. This mudra is mainly used for images of the Great Buddhas, and symbolizes one of the phases of the preaching of the Buddha, that of discussion or teaching of the dharma. The circle formed by the thumb and the index, a complete form, having neither beginning nor end, is that of perfection; it resembles the Law of the Buddha, which is perfect and eternal.
This mudra has a great number of variants in Mahayana Buddhism in East Asia. In Tibet it is the mystic gesture of Taras and Bodhisattvas with some differences by the deities in Yab-yum. This mudra is also a universal sign outside of its Buddhist context, especially as witnessed by its frequent appearance in Christian iconography.

Image source: #8a: Vitarka Mudra→ commons.wikimedia.org #8b: Vitarka Mudra


 

Vajrapradama mudra

Vajrapradama mudra

#9: Vajrapradama mudra
In the vajrapradama mudra, the fingertips of the hands are crossed. It represents unshakable confidence.

Image source: #9: Vajrapradama mudra

Jnana mudra

Jnana mudra

#10: Jnana mudra
The Jnana mudra ("mudra of knowledge") is done by touching the tips of the thumb and the index together, forming a circle, and the other fingers are extended straight. The hand is held with the palm toward toward the heart. It differs from the vitarka mudra in which the palm faces away from the body.

Image source: #10: Jnana mudra


 

Karana mudra

Karana mudra

#11: Karana mudra
The Karana mudra is the mudra which expels demons and removes obstacles such as sickness or negative thoughts. It is made by raising the index and the little finger, and folding the other fingers. It is nearly the same as the gesture known as corna in many western countries, the difference is that in the Karana mudra the thumb does not hold down the middle and ring finger.

Image source: #11: Karana mudra

Uttarabodhi Mudra

Uttarabodhi Mudra

#12: Uttarabodhi Mudra
The Uttarabodhi mudra is a gesture that identifies with a supreme enlightenment and symbolizes perfection.
In this position all fingers are intertwined. The index fingers are extended and touch one another, pointing toward the sky. Remaining fingers are crossed and folded down. Thumbs are cross and folded or held next to each other. Clasped hands are held over the head or at the level of the chest.
Frequently, this mudra is seen in image of Shakyamuni Buddha as liberator of the Nagas and in images of Vairochana.

Image source: #12: Uttarabodhi Mudra


 

Portrait of Buddha, in teaching posture

Portrait of Buddha, in teaching posture

#13: Portrait of Buddha, in teaching posture

Image source: commons.wikimedia.org Portrait of Buddha, in teaching posture

Seated Buddha Amitabha statue, west side of Borobudur,

Seated Buddha Amitabha statue, west side of Borobudur, ca. 1863-1866.

#14: Seated Buddha Amitabha statue, west side of Borobudur, ca. 1863-1866.

Image source: Seated Buddha Amitabha statue


 

Bronze Buddha statue from the Unified Silla period at the National Museum of Korea.

Bronze Buddha statue from the Unified Silla period at the National Museum of Korea.

#15: Bronze Buddha statue from the Unified Silla period at the National Museum of Korea.

Image source: Bronze Buddha statue

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in thailand

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in thailand

#16: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in thailand

Image source: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep


 

Copper alloy statue of Vairochana (Ming Dynasty)

 Copper alloy statue of Vairochana (Ming Dynasty)

#17: Copper alloy statue of Vairochana (Ming Dynasty) seated on a lotus on display at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts on the Stanford University campus in Stanford, California.

Image source: Copper alloy statue of Vairochana

Korea-Busan-Chungryunam

Korea-Busan-Chungryunam

#18: Korea-Busan-Chungryunam

Image source: Korea-Busan-Chungryunam


 

Khao Chinchan, Buddha Hill, Chonburi, Thailand

Khao Chinchan, Buddha Hill, Chonburi, Thailand

#19: Khao Chinchan, Buddha Hill, Chonburi, Thailand

Image source: Khao Chinchan, Buddha Hill, Chonburi, Thailand

Golden Temple building, Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Golden Temple building, Dambulla, Sri Lanka

#20: Golden Temple building, Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Image source: Golden Temple building, Dambulla, Sri Lanka


 

King Ajatashatru (Vitarka mudra)

King Ajatashatru; His Wife and His Minister Varshakara (Wall painting)

King Ajatashatru; His Wife and His Minister Varshakara (?)
Wall painting, 41x72 cm. Kizil, Maya Cave (Site III), 600-650
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 8864)

The dark-skinned woman in the central panel of has youthful features and, like the king, a halo; she wears a scarf that is brought together over the forehead in a triangle and crowned by a blossom. Waldschmidt has identified her as probably representing the king's wife, and the brahman on the right, who has neither nimbus nor crown, as in all likelihood depiction of Varshakara.

King Ajatashatru (Wall painting)

Wall painting Image detail of King Ajatashatru displaying the Vitarka mudra
The Vitarka mudra ("mudra of discussion") is the gesture of discussion, intellectual argument and transmission of Buddhist teaching. While the right hand is held at chest level and palm outward, vitarka mudra is done by touching the tips of the thumb and the index together forming a circle, and keeping the other fingers pointing up.
Sometimes the left hand is held with fingers pointing downward, at hip level, also with palm outward and with the thumb and index finger forming a circle. The circle formed by the thumb and index finger is the sign of the Wheel of Law.

King Ajatashatru (Vitarka mudra)

King Ajatashatru Rides Out of the City with Varshakara (Illustration after Griinwedel)

King Ajatashatru Rides Out of the City with Varshakara
Illustration after Griinwedel. Kizil, Maya Cave, Site III

Illustration of The Legend of King Ajatashatru

The Legend of King Ajatashatru (Illustration after Griinwedel)
Illustration of wall paintings connected with the legend of King AjatashatruThe, a legend which is depicted in five of the Kizil caves: Ajatashatru Cave.
The events recounted here are all illustrated in the Maya Cave, Site II at Kizil. Even the earthquake is shown by the collapsing of Mount Meru.

The legend of King AjatashatruThe

According to the story, as the Buddha entered Parinirvana the honorable Mahakashyapa was stopping in a bamboo grove near Rajagriha. The shaking of the earth announced to him that the Buddha had died. Fearing for the life of King Ajatashatru, who was devoted to the Buddha, Mahakashyapa pondered on how to break the news to him as gently as possible. He decided to ask Varshakara, the royal minister, to paint on a cloth a picture of the four main events in the life of the Buddha, and to procure seven jugs of fresh ghee and one of sandalwood powder.

"Now when the king comes to the gate of the park, you must ask him whether he desires to see the painting; and when he approaches it you shall explain the pictures to him, beginning with the first. And when he hears that the Buddha has died, he will fall to the ground; whereupon you must lift him up, and put him into one of the jugs of fresh ghee, and when the butter begins to melt, you must put him in the jug of sandalwood powder, and he will recover." (Griinwedel 1920, p. n 104) The events recounted here are all illustrated in the Maya Cave, Site II (Figure above). Even the earthquake is shown by the collapsing of Mount Meru.


 

Standing Buddha with teaching gesture (Dharmachakra Mudra)

Standing Buddha with teaching gesture (Dharmachakra Mudra)
Standing Buddha

Standing Buddha with teaching gesture (Dharmachakra Mudra)
Standing Buddha

Pictures of the Buddha on wood, as here, were also found in the Kizil caves; they were principally votive offerings made by pious pilgrims.

Left: Painting on wood, 48x10 cm., Kizil, Cave above the Cave of the Coffered Ceiling, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7591)

Right: Painting on wood, 30.2x11.8 cm., Kizil, Last Area, Last Cave, 7th century.
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7390 )

Dharmachakra in Sanskrit means the 'Wheel of Dharma' and this mudra position represents the turning of the wheel of the Dharma and is referred to as the ‘teaching gesture’.
The Dharmacakra mudra represents a central moment in the life of Buddha when he preached his first sermon after his Enlightenment, in Deer Park in Sarnath. Dharmacakra mudra is formed with both hands positioned in front of the heart, having the right palm forward and the left palm upward and inward, facing the chest. The thumb and index finger of both hands touch at their tips to form a circle representing the Wheel of Dharma. The three remaining fingers of the two hands remain extended.

Left: The Buddha stands on a stylized lotus pedestal with an extended pistil. A large mandorla and a nimbus surround the head and body. The mandorla is made up of colored stripes, light grayish brown, reddish brown, and green. The nimbus is a reddish brown circle edged with a band of light grayish brown. The Buddha wears a reddish brown garment with drapery folds indicated by double lines, which leaves the right shoulder free, and a green undergarment. He faces a little to his right, with his legs apart and his right hip slightiy jutting forward. His right hand is raised in the teaching gesture and his left holds an alms bowl in front of the chest. Note that webbing can be seen between the fingers of the right hand, whereas those of the left appear normal.
The inscription along the top of the panel is written in the Tocharian language and reads, according to W. Siegling: "This Buddha was painted by the hand of Sanketava."

Right: Despite the somewhat coarser technique, this Buddha was painted in the same period. Pure chance cannot account for the common elements such as the double-line drawing of the garment folds and the draping of the material around the hips. The upper part of the body and the head are more dynamic than in the preceding panel, from which this Buddha differs notably in three iconographic details: the right shoulder is covered by the outer garment; the left hand holds, instead of the alms bowl, one end of the garment; and the figure stands on two separate lotus blossoms.
The inscription along the top is again in Tocharian, written in the Brahmi script of Northern Turkestan. W. Siegling's reading of the text is: "This Buddha [was painted] by the hand of Ratna. . ." (the name of the painter is partially lost).

 

 

Seated Buddha (Bhumisparsha Mudra)

Seated Buddha (Bhumisparsha Mudra)
Seated Buddha (Bhumisparsha Mudra)
Clay, H. 15.8 cm. Tumshuk, Great Temple, Eastern Area, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7658)

Many of the objects found in Tumshuk were of clay. Usually mixed with chopped straw or animal hair, this was the material out of which divine images of all kinds were commonly made.

This small painted relief was probably a votive offering. It represents a Buddha seated with his legs drawn up beneath him on a high, unornamented pedestal. His head and body are surrounded by a nimbus and mandorla with rayed borders. The robe bares his right shoulder. His right hand seems to hang down in the gesture of calling the earth to witness {bhumisparsha mudra), while his left grasps the robe at chest level.

Although the relief is very roughly modeled, the East Asian style exerts a definite influence, especially in the face.

Seated Buddha (Dhyana Mudra or Mediation Mudra)

Seated Buddha (Dhyana Mudra or Mediation Mudra)
Seated Buddha (Dhyana Mudra or Mediation Mudra)
Clay, gilt, H. 12.5 cm. Tumshuk, Temple with the Frescoes, 7th century
Museum fur Indische Kunst (MIK III 7657 )

Although this Buddha, like the previous relief, was made from a mold, it reveals a different formal and iconographic conception. The Buddha is portrayed in an unmistakable attitude of meditation, with the hands clasped in the gesture of meditation at the level of the parted thighs. The legs are not drawn up to the torso as is customary but hang down somewhat, so that the crossed feet would have touched the pedestal on which the figure was originally placed.

The aesthetic effect of the relief, which was origi- nally richly painted and overlaid with gold, is slighdy impaired by the damage it has suffered. Even so, clothng, limbs, and decoration reveal a much finer workmanship than the previous one.