A mudra is a bodily posture or symbolic gesture.
In Buddhist iconography every buddha is depicted with a characteristic
gesture of the hands. Such gestures correspond to natural gestures (of
teaching, protecting, and so on) and also to certain aspects of the Buddhist
teaching or of the particular buddha depicted.
Here mudras accompany the performance of liturgies
and the recitation of mantras. They also help to actualize certain inner
states in that they anticipate their physical expression; thus they assist
in bringing about a connection between the practitioner and the buddha
visualized in a given practice.
The most important mudras are:
1.) Dhyani Mudra.................(gesture of meditation)
2.) Vitarka Mudra................(teaching gesture)
3.) Dharmachakra Mudra.....(gesture of turning the wheel of the teaching)
4.) Bhumisparsha Mudra......(gesture of touching the earth)
5.) Abhaya Mudra...............(gesture of fearlessness and granting
6.) Varada Mudra................(gesture of granting wishes)
7.) Uttarabodhi Mudra.........(gesture of supreme enlightenment)
8.) Mudra of Supreme Wisdom
9.) Anjali Mudra...................(gesture of greeting and veneration)
10.) Vajrapradama Mudra....(gesture of unshakable confidence)
In this mudra, the back of the right
hand rests on the palm of the other in such a way that the tips of the
thumbs lightly touch one another. The hands rest in the lap. The right
hand, resting on top, symbolizes the state of enlightenment; the other
hand, resting below, the world of appearance. This gesture expresses overcoming
the world of appearance through enlightenment, as well as the enlightened
state of mind for which samsara and nirvana are one. In a special form
of this mudra, the middle, ring, and little fingers of both hands lie on
top one another and the thumbs and index finger of each hand, touching
each other, form a circle, which here also symbolizes the world of appearance
and the true nature of reality.
The right hand points upward, the left downward; both palms are tuned
outward. The thumb and index finger of each hand form a circle. The right
hand is at shoulder level, the left at the level of the hips. In a variant
of this teaching gesture, the left hand rests palm upward in the lap, and
the right hand is raised to shoulder level with its thumb and index finger
forming a circle. In a further form of this mudra, the index finger and
little fingers of both hands are fully extended, the middle and ring fingers
somewhat curved inward. The left hand points upward, the right downward.
The left palm is tuned inward (toward the body), the right outward,
and the circles formed by the thumbs and index fingers of each hand touch
The left hand rests palm upward in the lap; the right hand, hanging
over the knee, palm inward, points to the earth. Sometimes the left hand
holds a begging bowl. This is the gesture with which the Buddha summoned
the Earth as witness to his realization of buddhahood. It is considered
a gesture of unshakability; thus Akshobhya (the Unshakable) is usually
depicted with this mudra.
Here the right hand is raised to shoulder height with fingers extended
and palm turned outward. This is the gesture of the Buddha Shakyamuni immediately
after attaining enlightenment.
The right hand, palm facing out, is directed downward. When Shakyamuni
is depicted with this mudra, it symbolizes summoning Heaven as witness
to his buddhahood. This mudra is also seen in representations of Ratnasambhava.
In a variant, the thumb and index finger of the downward extended hand
touch one another. Frequently the abhaya and varada mudras are combined:
the right hand makes the gesture of fearlessness, the left that of wish
Both hands are held at the level of the chest, the two raised index
fingers touch one another, the remaining fingers are crossed and folded
down.; the thumbs touch each other at the tips or are also crossed and
folded. This mudra is frequently seen in images of Vairochana.
8.)Mudra of Supreme Wisdom
The right index finger is grasped by the five fingers of the left hand.
This mudra, characteristic of Vairochana, is the subject of many interretations
in esoteric Buddhism, most which have to do with the relationship between
the empirical world of manifoldness and the principle that is its basis-the
unified world principle, the realization of unity in the manifold as embodied
9.) Anjali Mudra
The palms are held together at the level of the chest. This is the
customary gesture of greeting in India. Used as a mudra, it expresses "suchness"
The fingertips of the hands are crossed. This is gesture of unshakable
Source: The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen