Mahamudra, Maha-mudra, Mahāmudrā: 12 definitions


Mahamudra means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Yoga (school of philosophy)

[«previous next»] — Mahamudra in Yoga glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Yoga

From the Haṭha Yogha Pradīpikā (chapter III): “Pressing the Yoni (perineum) with the heel of the left foot, and stretching forth the right foot, its toe should be grasped by the thumb and first finger.” (śl. 10) and “By stopping the throat (by Jālandhara Bandha) the air is drawn in from the outside and carried down. Just as a snake struck with a stick becomes straight like a stick, in the same way, śakti (suṣumnā) becomes straight at once. Then the Kuṇḍalinī, becoming as it were dead, and, leaving both the Idā and the Pingalā, enters the suṣumnā (the middle passage).” (śl. 11) and “It should be expelled then, slowly only and not violently. For this very reason, the best of the wise men call it the Mahā Mudrā. This Mahā Mudrā has been propounded by great masters.” (śl. 12)

Source: Brill: Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions (yoga)

Mahāmudrā (महामुद्रा) refers to one of the methods of manipulating the constituents of the yogic body, according to the Amṛtasiddhi, a 12th-century text belonging to the Haṭhayoga textual tradition.—The text of the Amṛtasiddhi consists of 303 verses divided into 35 short vivekas. The first ten vivekas teach the constituents of the yogic body. Vivekas 11–13 teach three methods of manipulating those constituents (e.g., mahāmudrā) and viveka 14 teaches the practice, i.e. how the three methods are to be used together. Vivekas 15–18 teach the four grades of aspirant, 19–33 the four states of yoga, and 34–35 the final transformation of the body leading up to nirvāṇa.

Yoga book cover
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Yoga is originally considered a branch of Hindu philosophy (astika), but both ancient and modern Yoga combine the physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga teaches various physical techniques also known as āsanas (postures), used for various purposes (eg., meditation, contemplation, relaxation).

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

[«previous next»] — Mahamudra in Purana glossary
Source: Shiva Purana - English Translation

Mahāmudrā (महामुद्रा) is the name of a gesture (mudrā) mentioned in the Śivapurāṇa 1.20, while explaining the mode of worshipping an earthen phallic image (pārthiva-liṅga) according to the Vedic rites:—“[...] the Mahāmudrā shall be shown with the mantra ‘Namaḥ Senā-’ etc. He shall then show the Dhenumudrā with the mantra ‘Namo Gobhyaḥ’ etc.”.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Mahāmudrā (महामुद्रा).—Served by a number of Rudras: the presiding deity of the cakra.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 42. 2.
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

[«previous next»] — Mahamudra in Shaktism glossary
Source: Google Books: Manthanabhairavatantram

Mahāmudrā (महामुद्रा) refers to the “great gesture”, according to the Kularatnoddyota, one of the earliest Kubjikā Tantras.—Accordingly, [while describing the gross form of Navātman called Śabdarāśinavātman]: “(Navātman) has a big body and burns intensely, illumining the sky with (his) radiant energy. [...] He wears divine earrings and the Great Gesture (mahāmudrā) is (his) ornament. He has made the Great Ghost (who lies) on the lotus of the head of the Great Corpse, (his) seat. [...]”.

Shaktism book cover
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Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

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In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: MDPI Books: The Ocean of Heroes

Mahāmudrā (महामुद्रा) refers to the “great seal”, according to the 10th-century Ḍākārṇava-tantra: one of the last Tibetan Tantric scriptures belonging to the Buddhist Saṃvara tradition consisting of 51 chapters.—Accordingly: “[...] One thousand bindus are in the prongs, [which run] upward from the navel area. He should meditate on the bindus in the ten prongs in sequence. By smoke and others, he should make move the 100 [bindus] in the seats of Bindus. From that, however subtle the thing might be, it is not a [discriminated] object of sense for the Awakened Ones. He [becomes] completely awakened, [which is] the mahāmudrā or Great Seal, through the meditation on the adamantine vital airs [...]”.

Tibetan Buddhism book cover
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Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

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General definition (in Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Mahamudra in Buddhism glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Buddhism

Mahāmudrā (महामुद्रा) is the forty-third of sixty digits (decimal place) in an special enumeration system mentioned by Vasubandhu in his Abhidharmakośa (“treasury of knowledge”). The explanations of the measure of years, eons, and so forth must be comprehended through calculation based on a numerical system. Enumeration begins from one and increases by a factor of ten for each shift in decimal place. The sixtieth number in this series is called “countless”.

Among these decimal positions (e.g., mahāmudrā), the first nine positions from one to one hundred million are called ‘single set enumeration’. From a billion up to, but not including countless is “the enumeration of the great companion” and is called the ‘recurring enumeration’.

Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit dictionary

[«previous next»] — Mahamudra in Sanskrit glossary
Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Mahāmudrā (महामुद्रा).—a particular position of hands or feet (in practice of yoga).

Mahāmudrā is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms mahā and mudrā (मुद्रा).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Mahāmudrā (महामुद्रा).—(1) according to Lalou, Iconographie, 19 n. 6, in (Ārya-)Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa regularly = pañcaśikhā (q.v. for citations) mudrā; also (Ārya-)Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa 56.7 et alibi; (2) a high number: Mahāvyutpatti 8031 (compare mudrā 3).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Mahāmudrā (महामुद्रा):—[=mahā-mudrā] [from mahā > mah] f. a [particular] posture or position of the hands or feet (in the practice of Yoga q.v.), [Catalogue(s)]

2) [v.s. ...] a [particular] high number, [Buddhist literature]

[Sanskrit to German]

Mahamudra in German

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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