Dhyana Mudra Gesture of Meditation
Dhyana Mudra Gesture of Meditation – also referred to as Samadhi mudra or yoga mudra. It is one of the most common and widely practised mudras in various religious and spiritual traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It is also one of the most frequently depicted mudras in Buddhist iconography and art depicting images of the Buddha.
In Sanskrit, the term “dhyana” refers to the practice of meditation and is recognized as the seventh limb of yoga according to Patanjali a revered sage and teacher in India during ancient times. His teachings known as the Yoga Sutras are still practiced widely today. Dhyana mudra is distinct from “dharana,” which pertains to the act of concentration. Dhyana is a state in which the practitioner can no longer discern the process of meditation or differentiate their sense of self from it. It serves as a preliminary stage leading to samadhi, a state of blissful absorption.
This particular mudra involves placing the palm of the right hand into the left hand, which is then positioned on top of the crossed legs of the seated image. This posture represents a state of intense meditation. Occasionally, the hands may also hold an alms bowl, a mendicant bowl, or a vase of various shapes. Unlike the Bhumisparsa mudra, this mudra is associated with various moments in Buddha’s life both before and after his Enlightenment.
Some of the moments when the Buddha meditated in Dhyana Mudra:
- After encountering the last of the four signs, which was a wandering religious monk, Buddha sat down in a peaceful place and contemplated.
- Upon receiving news that his wife Yasodhara had given birth to a son, Buddha sat up in bed that same night and observed his sleeping wife, who appeared lifeless.
- Buddha performed his first meditation after renouncing worldly possessions.
- After enduring six years of extreme ascetic practices, Buddha abandoned this path and accepted the rice offered by Sujata. The alms bowl is present in this depiction.
- Buddha sat with the alms bowl in his lap under the protective hood of the Muchalinda Naga. It is said that after his Enlightenment, a severe storm and heavy rain occurred in Both Gaya. During this time, the Naga king Muchalinda shielded Buddha by wrapping his body around him and extending his hood as an umbrella over Buddha’s head.
- Buddha meditated on the Abhidhamma in the House of Gems (Ratana Ghara) during the fourth week after his Enlightenment.
- During his first visit to Rajagriha, before attaining Enlightenment, Buddha was visited by King Bimbisara, who offered him his throne.
- On his subsequent visit to Rajagriha after the Enlightenment, King Bimbisara presented Buddha with the Bamboo Grove (Veluvana).
- Buddha reformed the proud and despotic King Jambupati. In this depiction, Buddha is adorned in royal regalia and can be seen as a Cakravartin, or the King of the world. He is shown in the dhyana mudra, holding a mendicant bowl in his hands.
The Dhyana mudra signifies the embodiment of complete equilibrium. When an individual incorporates this mudra into their meditation practice, they become fully engrossed in boundless space, unaffected by external influences. The right hand represents wisdom and consciousness, while the left hand symbolizes the illusionary nature of existence.
The dhyana mudra can assist individuals in progressing from the practice of concentration towards deeper levels of meditation. The term Dhyana is derived from the combination of two distinct elements, referred to as Dhatu in the Sanskrit language
- The first element, known as “Dhi,” encompasses the faculty of cognition and the capacity for intellectual thought.
- The second element, denoted as “Yana,” translates to “a vehicle” or a means of conveyance.
Consequently, the amalgamation of these two components results in the formation of Dhyana. Dhyana, therefore, signifies the driving force behind one’s cognitive processes and intellectual pursuits.
Engaging in the practice of Dhyana Mudra, while simultaneously establishing a focused intention, serves as a signal to the universe that one is prepared to receive positive energy. The formation of a bowl-like shape with one’s hands during this practice serves as a vessel for containing affirmative thoughts, vibrations, and energy.
Within the context of the Buddhist tradition, it is believed that the triangular configuration assumed during the practice of Dhyana Mudra represents the three fundamental pillars of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Sangha (the community of practitioners), and the dharma (the righteous path or moral duty). It is further believed that this particular Mudra was one of the techniques employed by the Buddha himself in his quest for enlightenment. However, it is worth noting that the Yogis had already been practising this Mudra prior to the advent of Buddhism.