Famous Statues of Buddha Depicting 10 Mudras or Hand Gestures

Updated on August 1, 2016

Mudras or Hand Gestures

Mudras or Hand Gestures at New Delhi Airport
Mudras or Hand Gestures at New Delhi Airport | Source

Have you ever visited a park or a religious place exhibiting a statue of Buddha? Apart from appreciating the image, have you read the description on any nearby signboard, or listened to the religious person managing the site or to a guide? I am sure you might have observed the statue closely and found out other details to interpret the symbolism central to each statute.

Buddha statues generally show a particular Mudra (a Sanskrit word) or hand gesture. Those who visit Indira Gandhi International Airport at New Delhi might see the panel above showing various hand gestures or Mudras. Gestures are a form of non-verbal communication, of course, but Mudras also have an important spiritual significance.

This Hub presents statues of Buddha in different Mudras exhibited in different parts of the world and explains the gestures and their significance.

Note: Buddhism is centuries old and rich in symbolism. There may be regional variations in the way sculptures in different parts of the world depict Mudras.

1. Bhumisparsha Mudra

Bhumisparsha Mudra

 Kandeviharaya, Aluthgama, Sri Lanka
Kandeviharaya, Aluthgama, Sri Lanka | Source

This is one of the most common Mudras found in statues of Buddha in many countries.

Meaning: 'Touching the Earth.'

Hand position: Shown in the sitting meditation position only. In this Mudra the right hand points towards the Earth, hanging over the knee, palm inward. The left hand in this Mudra rests in the lap, palm upright.

Significance: It is also known as 'Calling the Earth to Witness the Truth' Mudra, and it represents the moment of Buddha's attaining enlightenment.

Bhumisparsha Mudra

Haw Par Villa, Singapore
Haw Par Villa, Singapore | Source

2. Dhyana Mudra

Dhyana Mudra

 Giac Lam Pagoda, Vietnam
Giac Lam Pagoda, Vietnam | Source

Meaning: Meditation. Also called 'Samadhi' or 'Yoga' Mudra.

Hand position: This gesture is also peculiar to the sitting position only. In this Mudra both the hands in the lap, with the back of the right hand resting on the palm of the left hand with fingers extended. In many statues the thumbs of both hands are shown touching at the tips, thus forming a mystic triangle.

Significance: This gesture has been used by yogis for meditation and concentration. It also signifies attainment of spiritual perfection. The Mudra was used by Buddha during the final meditation under the 'bodhi tree.'

Dhyana Mudra

National Palace Museum, Taiwan (Ming Dynasty)
National Palace Museum, Taiwan (Ming Dynasty) | Source

3. Abhaya Mudra

Abhaya Mudra

Fo Guang Shan Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Fo Guang Shan Kaohsiung, Taiwan | Source

Meaning: Fearlessness.

Hand position: In this Mudra, the right hand is generally raised to shoulder height with arm bent. The palm of the right hand faces outwards and the fingers are upright and joined. The left hand hangs downwards by the side of the body.

Significance: This gesture was shown by Buddha immediately after attaining enlightenment. It symbolises strength and inner security. It is a gesture which instills a sense of fearlessness to others as well. In Japan this Mudra is shown with the middle finger slightly projected forward. In Thailand and Laos this Mudra is more common in the walking Buddha.

Abhaya Mudra

Dehra Dun, India
Dehra Dun, India | Source

4. Dharmachakra Mudra

Dharmachakra Mudra

Golden Buddha at Buddhist Museum, Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Golden Buddha at Buddhist Museum, Dambulla, Sri Lanka | Source

Meaning: 'Turning the Wheel of the Dharma or Law.'

Hand position: This Mudra involves both hands. The right hand is held at chest level with the palm facing outwards. A mystic circle is formed by joining the tips of the index finger and the thumb. The left hand is turned inward and the index finger and thumb of this hand join to touch the right hand's circle.

Significance: This gesture was exhibited by Lord Buddha while he preached the first sermon to a companion after his enlightenment in the Deer Park of Sarnath. It signifies setting into motion the wheel of Dharma. Since the fingers are positioned near the heart in this Mudra, the preaching is coming straight from the heart of Buddha.

It is also spelled 'Dharmacakra Mudra.'

5. Vitarka Mudra

Vitarka Mudra

Near Belum Caves, Andhra Pradesh, India
Near Belum Caves, Andhra Pradesh, India | Source

Meaning: Teaching and discussion or intellectual debate.

Hand position: The tips of the thumb and index finger touch each other, forming a circle. The right hand is positioned at shoulder level as in Abhaya Mudra and the left hand may be at the hip level, in the lap, with palm facing upwards.

Significance: It symbolizes the teaching phase of preaching in Buddhism. The circle formed by the thumb and index finger maintains the constant flow of energy, as there is no beginning or end, only perfection.

Vitarka Mudra

Phra Pathom Chedi, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.  Dvaravati style.
Phra Pathom Chedi, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand. Dvaravati style. | Source

6. Namaskara or Anjali Mudra

Namaskara or Anjali Mudra

Wat Traimit, Bangkok
Wat Traimit, Bangkok | Source

Meaning: Greetings, devotion, and adoration.

Hand position: Both hands close to the chest, palms and fingers joined against each other vertically.

Significance: It is common gesture used in India to greet people (Namaste) and also in some Southeast Asian countries. It signifies adoration of the superior and considered a sign of regard with deep respect if done at face level.

It is believed that true Buddhas (those who are enlightened) do not make this hand gesture and this gesture should not be shown in Buddha statues. This is for Bodhisattvas (who aim and prepare to attain perfect knowledge).

Namaskara or Anjali Mudra

Korea
Korea | Source

7. Vajra Mudra

Vajra Mudra

Korea
Korea | Source

Meaning: Knowledge.

Hand position: This mudra is not well known in India and is better known in Korea and Japan. In this Mudra the erect forefinger of the left hand is held in the fist of the right hand. It is seen in the mirror-inverted form also.

Significance: This Mudra signifies the importance of knowledge or supreme wisdom. Knowledge is represented by the forefinger and the fist of the right hand protects it.

8. Uttarabodhi Mudra

Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple, London
Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple, London | Source

Meaning: Supreme enlightenment.

Hand position: Holding both hands at the level of the chest, intertwining all the fingers except index fingers, extending index fingers straight up and touching each other.

Significance: This Mudra is known for charging one with energy. It symbolises perfection. Shakyamuni Buddha, the liberator of Nagas, presents this Mudra,

Uttarabodhi Mudra

Source

9. Varada Mudra

Varada Mudra

India
India | Source

Meaning: Charity, compassion or granting wishes.

Hand position: The right arm is extended in a natural position all the way down, with the palm of the open hand facing outwards towards onlookers. If standing, the arm is held slightly extended to the front. Can be a left-hand gesture as well.

Significance: This Mudra signifies five perfections: Generosity, Morality, Patience, Effort and Meditative Concentration, through the five extended fingers. Normally, this Mudra is found in combination with other Mudras like Abhaya, specially In the standing position.

10. Karana Mudra

#10. Karana Mudra

Korea (Now at Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Korea (Now at Los Angeles County Museum of Art) | Source

Meaning: Banishing or warding off evil.

Hand position: In this Mudra hand is stretched out, either horizontally or vertically, with the palm forward. The thumb presses the folded two middle fingers but the index and little fingers are raised straight upwards. May be combined with Abhaya Mudra in the left hand.

Significance: This Mudra signifies expelling demons and negative energy. The energy created by this Mudra helps remove obstacles such as sickness or negative thoughts.

Your Acquaintance with Buddha Statues

Have you ever visited a Buddha Statue?

See results

Questions & Answers

    Comments

    Submit a Comment

    • srsddn profile imageAUTHOR

      srsddn 

      4 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      Vellur, I am glad you liked explanation of Mudras and statutes. Actually there is so much to read in each statue of Buddha. Thanks for visiting, voting up and support. Have a nice week end.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub, the statues look beautiful, great explanation of each mudra. Interesting and informative hub, voted up.

    • srsddn profile imageAUTHOR

      srsddn 

      4 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      TurtleDog, Thanks for visiting. Actually there are so many statues in different parts of the world and one can read one Mudra or the other in many of them. Have a nice time!

    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 

      4 years ago

      Nice! I wasn't aware of all the variety

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)