Buddhist Mudras - Hand Gestures


Mudras are symbolic gestures, used symbolically in Buddha images and in practice to evoke particular ideas or buddhas in the mind during Buddhist meditation or ritual.

Like symbols held by saints in Christian art or by gods in Hindu art, Buddhist mudras indicate the identity of a Buddha or a particular scene being depicted.

Mudras are also used in ritual meditation, especially in Tibetan Buddhism, to generate forces that invoke a particular Buddha or deity. While there are a large number of esoteric mudras, there are ten main ones, of which five are most commonly used in Buddha images. Each of the Five Dhyani Buddhas is assigned one of the five mudras, with which they are invariably depicted in art.

Follow a link below to learn more about each of the five main mudras and see examples of Buddha images featuring those mudras.

Sources
  1. Mudras: Sacred Hand Gestures - BuddhaNet
  2. Buddhist Art and Architecture: Hand Mudras - BuddhaNet
  3. The Ten Most Important Mudras - Neurotopia
  4. Buddhist Hand Gestures - Government of Tibet in Exile
  5. Mudras: Hand Positions of the Buddha - Lotus Sculpture

  • Abhaya (Fearlessness) Mudrahttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols/mudras/abhaya

    In Buddhism, Abhaya in Sanskrit means fearlessness, and the abhaya mudra symbolizes protection, peace, and the dispelling of fear. The gesture is made with the right hand raised to shoulder height, arm bent, and palm facing outward...

  • Bhumisparsha (Earth Witness) Mudrahttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols/mudras/bhummisparsha

    In Buddhism, Bhumisparsha means 'touching the earth'. It is more commonly known as the 'earth witness' mudra. This mudra, formed with all five fingers of the right hand extended to touch the ground, symbolizes the Buddha's enlightenment under the bodhi tree, when he summoned the earth goddess, Sthavara, to bear witness to his attainment of enlightenment...

  • Dharmachakra (Wheel-Turning) Mudrahttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols/mudras/dharmachakra

    In Buddhism, Dharmachakra in Sanskrit means 'Wheel of Dharma'. This mudra symbolizes one of the most important moments in the life of Buddha, the occasion when he preached to his companions the first sermon after his Enlightenment in the Deer Park at Sarnath...

  • Dhyana (Meditation) Mudrahttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols/mudras/dhyana

    In Buddhism, the dhyana mudra may be made with one or both hands. When made with a single hand the left one is placed in the lap, while the right may be engaged elsewhere...

  • Varada (Boon-Granting) Mudrahttp://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/symbols/mudras/varada

    In Buddhism, this mudra symbolizes charity, compassion and boon-granting. It is the mudra of the accomplishment of the wish to devote oneself to human salvation...