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Mudras

Mudras are Buddhist hand gestures. They function both as symbols in Buddhist art and as actual hand gestures used during Buddhist meditation or ritual.

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

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.

  • Abhaya Mudra

    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... full article →
  • Bhumisparsha Mudra

    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... full article →
  • Dharmachakra Mudra

    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... full article →
  • Dhyana Mudra

    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... full article →
  • Varada Mudra

    The varada mudra symbolizes charity, compassion and boon-granting. It is the mudra of the accomplishment of the wish to devote oneself to human salvation... full article →

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