What Is The Significance Of Different Buddha Hand Gestures?

July 18, 2017 1 Comment

What Is The Significance Of Different Buddha Hand Gestures?

Mudra or Mudras are hand gestures or positions often depicted in Buddhist art and used in practice to evoke a particular state of mind. The most significant mudras (Sanskrit, “seal” or “sign”) are those commonly found in representations of the Buddha.

Every mudra has both symbolic and an practical function, for it communicates at once, both to the person who performs them and to the observer, aspects of the enlightened mind.

Let us now explore the top 10 mudras associated with the Buddha.

1.    Abhaya Mudra

Mudra of blessing or protection. The right hand, held at shoulder level, is pointed upward with the palm facing out. Attributed to the Buddha immediately following his enlightenment, the Abhaya is usually intended as a gesture of reassurance.

buddha hand symbol meaning

Buddha had revealed this gesture immediately after attaining enlightenment. The Abhaya mudra offers a sense of protection, peace, and inner security. It is a gesture that instils fearlessness in others. In Japan, this mudra is represented with the middle finger slightly projected forward while in Laos and Thailand, the mudra is depicted in walking Buddha.

Feng Shui Tip: Placing the Buddha with this mudra in the main entrance of your home or living room is considered ideal.

2.    Dharmachakra Mudra

Mudra of turning the Wheel of the Teaching. The thumbs and forefingers of each hand form circles that touch one another. The left hand faces inward, the right hand, out. The hands are held on a level with the heart.

buddha hand symbol meaning

The Buddha exhibited this hand gesture while preaching his first sermon to a friend after his enlightenment at the Deer Park of Sarnath. Since the fingers are near the heart, the preaching is said to come from the core of the Buddha.

Feng Shui Tip: The Buddha with this mudra can be placed in any living space.

3.    Vitarka Mudra

Teaching mudra. Held at chest level, the right hand faces outward. The thumb and forefinger form a circle, symbolizing the “Wheel of the Teaching.” Pointing downward, the left hand faces outward or lies palm up in the lap.

buddha hand gesture

The Vitarka mudra indicates the teaching phase of the Buddha in Buddhism. The circle formed by the thumb and the index finger helps in maintaining the constant flow of energy.

Feng Shui Tip: The Buddha with this mudra should be placed in a library or the study room.

4.    Uttarabodhi Mudra

This mudra also means supreme enlightenment. In this mudra, both the hands are held at the chest level. The fingers are intertwined except the index fingers. The index fingers extend straight up and touch each other.

buddha hand gesture

The Uttarabodhi mudra helps in charging our energy. It signifies perfection. It evokes a sense of unshaken unity within oneself and helps us align with the One source.

Feng Shui Tip: The Buddha with this mudra must face the north or the south of your living area. The statue should be kept at a high and prominent position to evoke the energy.

5.    Varada Mudra

Mudra of giving or generosity. Pointed downward, the palm of the right hand faces out.

buddha hand gesture

The mudra implies the five perfections of life; patience, effort, meditative concentration, morality, and generosity. In most cases, you will see a sacred shape like that of a mandala or an eye in the palm of the Buddha’s hand. The form indicates a rare and powerful energy originating from the enlightened person through his/her hands.

This mudra is found in combination with other mudras like Abhaya, especially in a standing position.

Feng Shui Tip: The Buddha with this mudra should be placed facing north-west.

6.    Karana Mudra

The Karana mudra is considered as the most powerful hand gesture with which negative energy is often expelled. In this mudra, the hand is stretched out either vertically or horizontally. The palm is forward in position. The thumb presses the folded two middle fingers while the index and little fingers are raised straight in an upward direction. This gesture is combined with the Abhaya mudra in the left hand.  The Karana mudra helps in removing negative energy and obstacles like a sickness.

buddha hand gesture

Feng Shui Tip: The placement of the Buddha statue with this gesture must be very mindful. You must never place it facing the front door of your living space as it welcomes the energy. Also, you must not put the statue in your bedroom or your child’s room. Only areas that need a big clearing like a window with little energy alley should be chosen to place the Buddha with this hand gesture.

7.    Vajra Mudra

The Vajra mudra is translated as the hand gesture depicting unshakable self-confidence. The Vajra mudra evokes the golden energy of soft, radiant, healing, everlasting and kind. The mudra is not enough known in India. However, it is very famous in other Asian countries like Japan and Korea.

buddha hand gestures

In this mudra, the erect forefinger of the left hand is held in the fist of the right hand. While the pointer represents knowledge, the fist signifies protector of knowledge.

Feng Shui Tip: The ideal placement of the Buddha with this mudra would be the main entrance or the centre of your living space.

8.    Namaskara or Anjali Mudra

The Namaskara or the Anjali mudra evokes greeting each other with respect and adoration. The greeting is expressed in the form of a prayer that comes from one’s heart or the third eye. This hand gesture can be made by placing the palms at the heart level or the forehead level. The reason behind this placement is the belief that one can see each other’s expressions only with the heart or with a deeper spiritual thought through our third eye.

buddha hand gestures

The Anjali mudra is done by placing both hands close to the chest with the palms and fingers joined against each other vertically. It is believed that the enlightened Buddhas do not make this hand gesture because it is mainly for the Bodhisattvas who aim or are preparing to attain enlightenment or perfect knowledge.

Feng Shui Tip: Your main entrance, dining or living room is the right spot to place the Buddha with this mudra.

9.    Dhyana Mudra

With the mudra of meditation, the back of the right hand rests on the upturned palm of the other with the tips of the thumbs lightly touching. The top hand symbolizes enlightenment; the bottom hand, the world of appearances. Thus the mudra as a whole suggests the supremacy of the enlightened mind.

The Dhyana mudra helps in creating a circle of energy due to the touching of the thumbs of both the hands. 

buddha hand gestures

Most sages or yogis use this hand gesture to concentrate or meditate. It also means attainment of spiritual perfection. The Buddha used this mudra during His final meditation under the Bodhi tree.

Feng Shui Tip: Meditation room, study room or library are the right places to keep the Buddha with this hand gesture.

10.    Bhumisparsa Mudra

With the earth-touching mudra, the left hand rests in the lap with the palm facing upward. The right hand rests palm down on the right knee with the fingers pointing toward the earth. When the Buddha attained enlightenment, he reportedly used this gesture to summon the earth to bear witness to his victory over the seductive forces of illusion.

buddha hand gestures

The Bhumisparsa mudra is considered as the Buddha’s hand gesture at the time of enlightenment. It is the representation of the truth to his commitment to liberation and the unshaken strength that helped him overcome the darkness or the mara that challenged him before entering the light.

Feng Shui Tip: The main entrance of your living space is the perfect place for the Buddha with this mudra.




The Spruce


1 Response


August 09, 2022

Really Interesting to know and study about mudras. being a Philosophy student I am more interested to know more about many topics related to my subject.

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