What are the Most Common Buddhist Mudras?

Mudras are one of six principle iconographic themes in Buddhism, particularly in esoteric Buddhism. Briefly noted, these other principle thematic elements are mandalas, asanas, thrones, aureoles, and implements and accessories of the deities. Each of these five iconographic themes represents an interesting area of inquiry, but our focus for this article would be on the remaining iconographic theme of the mudra.

Most Common Buddhist Mudras
Here are the most common buddhist mudras.

1: Dhyana mudra (Gesture of Meditation)

The first mudra we will consider is universally peculiar to seated statues. It is represented by the Buddha figure on the altar here in the Zendo. This is the mudra of meditation, of concentration on the Good Law, of the attainment of spiritual perfection, of bodhi, or awakening.

2: Bhumisparsa Mudra (Gesture of Touching the Earth)

This is the mudra to which I’ve just referred; it also is peculiar to seated statues. The left hand rests palm upward in the lap: the right hand, hanging over the knee, palm inward, points to the earth.

3: Dharmacakra Mudra (Gesture of Turning the Wheel of the Law)

The mudra is especially characterized by a variety of forms, even in India. Generally speaking, the right hand is held at the level of the breast, palm facing outward, while the index finger and the thumb, join at the tips to form the mystic circle, touch the joined index and thumb of the left hand, whose palm is turned inward.

4: Abhaya Mudra (Gesture of Fearlessness and Granting Protection)

This mudra is generally made with the right hand raised to should height, the arm crooked, the palm of the hand facing outward, the fingers upright and joined. The left hand hangs down at the side of the body.

5 Varada Mudra (Gesture of Granting Wishes)

The charity of the Buddha is indicated by this mudra, as it is the gesture of dispensing favors. In this symbolism the right hand is directed downward. The palm should be completely exposed to the spectator, open and empty; the fingers may be slightly bent as if to support a round object.

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