Mudra, aka: Mudrā; 24 Definition(s)
Mudra means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. 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.
Yoga (school of philosophy)
Mudrā (मुद्र) according to the Haṭha-yoga-pradīpikā (chapter III):
These are the ten mudrās which annihilate old age and death. They have been explained by Ādi-nātha (Śiva) and give eight kinds of divine wealth. They are loved by all the siddhas and are hard to attain even by the Marutas. These mudrās should be kept secret by every means, as one keeps one’s box of jewellery, and should, on no account be told to any one, just as husband and wife keep their dealings secret.Source: Wisdom Library: Yoga
Mudrā (मुद्रा).—In his analysis of the mudrās of the Mālinīvijayottaratantra, Vasudeva (1997:15-20) follows the divisions found in the text in identifying three types of mudrā: liturgical, iconic and yogic. Yogic mudrās are so called “not because they are primarily employed in yoga but rather because their practice involves yogic principles.”Source: Google Books: The Khecarividya of Adinatha
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).
Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)
Mudrā is one of the saṃyutta-hastāni (Twenty-seven combined Hands).Source: archive.org: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)
Mudrā (मुद्रा) refers to the “symbol of the hand” utilized in sacred recitation.—Mudrās are potent because they denote divine power in a symbolic way. In dance, the hastas used to show divinities are called mudrās. Mudrās show the divya-kṛya (divine actions) in dance. All mudrās have an esoteric meaning which evokes the presence of God within the dancer and is transmitted to the spectator through the dancer. In dance, mudrās can be shown in two ways. (1) The object held in the hands of the deity is shown using the hasta; (2) The mudrās held by the deity in sculptures are also shown in the same way in dance.Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (natya)
Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).
Mudra means sign or a seal. It is a symbolic gesture or position usually of hands and fingers. They are commonly used in tantric worship, yoga, dance and music. The Shilpa-shastra has however its own use for the mudras ; and it has developed its own set of mudras. There are in general two types of Mudras, those with one-hand and those with two-hand. The one-handed mudras number about 28; while the two-hand mudras are about 23.The mudras give an expression and eloquence to the attributes of the image and to its message.Source: Sreenivasarao's blogs: Temple Architecture – Devalaya Vastu – Part seven
Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.
Purana and Itihasa (epic history)
Mudra (मुद्र).—Āvāhini, mahāmudrā, Trikhaṇḍa, Samkṣobhini mudrā, Vidāvinī, Ākarṣiṇī, Unmādinī, Mahāmkuśa, Khecari, Bhījamudrā, and Yonimudrā: detailed.*
- * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 36. 62; 42. 1-19.
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.
Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)
Mudrā (मुद्रा) is the reflection of the Self belonging to and hence also emerging out of the same. Reflectiveness is the possibility of getting reflected by its source while getting reflected by the object concerned is its reflectivity. Out of numerous varieties of mudrās the main is considered to be the khecarī in view of its integrality and purity besides being devoted to the divine. Its kinds are triśūlinī, karaṅkiṇī, krodhanā, bhairavī, lelihānikā, mahāpretā, yogamudrā, jvālinī, kṣobhiṇī and dhruvā.Source: Academia.edu: Mudra in Sri Tantraloka
Mudrā (मुद्रा).—The aim of the Kāpālikas was not simply achieving divine bliss but attaining the magical yogic powers (Aṣta siddhis), which were the most sought after in the traditional yogic practices which aim at the attainment of Siddhadeha and ultimately Divyadeha.
They used six mudrās:
- kaṇṭhahāra (Necklace),
- alaṃkāra (ornament),
- kuṇḍala (ear rings),
- bhasma (ashes),
- yagnopavita (sacred thread).
Their identity marks kapāla (Skull) and khatvāṅga (club) were not mentioned as part of the six mudrās (mudrika-ṣatka).Source: DSpace at Pondicherry: Siddha Cult in Tamilnadu (shaivism)
Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.
Chandas (prosody, study of Sanskrit metres)
Mudrā (मुद्रा) is the alternative name of a Sanskrit metre (chandas) mentioned by Hemacandra (1088-1173 C.E.) in his auto-commentary on the second chapter of the Chandonuśāsana. Mudrā corresponds to Ujjvala. Hemacandra gives these alternative names for the metres by other authorities (like Bharata), even though the number of gaṇas or letters do not differ.Source: Shodhganga: a concise history of Sanskrit Chanda literature
Chandas (छन्दस्) refers to Sanskrit prosody and represents one of the six Vedangas (auxiliary disciplines belonging to the study of the Vedas). The science of prosody (chandas-shastra) focusses on the study of the poetic meters such as the commonly known twenty-six metres mentioned by Pingalas.
Pancaratra (worship of Nārāyaṇa)
Mudrā (मुद्रा) according to the Īśvarasaṃhitā 24.1-15.—Mūdra is so called as it gives joy to the tattvas in the form of karman for those who offer spotless worship, drive out the defects which move about within and without and sealing up of what is done. Therefore, for formation is to be done naturally (physically) or mentally at first and consider it to be pervaded by the respective mantras. The group of fingers (śākhā) is associated with sentence. Yet the mantra is perceivable and hence it enables the (particular) act to be done. The mūdra is to be formed with the two hands smeared with sandal-paste.Source: archive.org: Isvara Samhita Vol 5
Pancaratra (पाञ्चरात्र, pāñcarātra) represents a tradition of Hinduism where Narayana is revered and worshipped. Closeley related to Vaishnavism, the Pancaratra literature includes various Agamas and tantras incorporating many Vaishnava philosophies.
Mudrā (मुद्रा) and Hasta both refer to “gestures” (made with the hand), and forms one of the three divisions of pratimālakṣaṇa (body postures of the icons), as defined according to texts dealing with śilpa (arts and crafs), known as śilpaśāstras.—The technical term used in the texts to denote the finger poses is mudrā and hasta. The term hasta is generally used in cases where the whole of the arm along with the hand is shown in a particular pose. The term mudrā usually denotes the peculiar posture in which the palm with the fingers is shown. Hastas and mudrās thus usually indicate some action, which the god or his attendant is shown to be engaged in. The action consists of the expression of an idea by means of a particular gesture.Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (śilpa)
Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.
General definition (in Hinduism)
Buddhist Tantra has also adopted the Hindu element of mudrā which is used to express different esoteric and subtler ideas and ideologies. The word mudrā is sometimes used in the sense of Mahāmudrā which is Prajñā or the great woman to be adopted in the yogic practice, not for libidinous phallic necromancy but for the sublimation and conquest of the sex instinct.
Spiritual waves or divine vibrations are sent forth for the benefit of disciples and people in general by those who have attained liberation. These waves, which emanate from the Siddhas, Seers and Arhatas, are of untold help for the beginners and Sādhakas. The Buddha himself has employed different mudrās to shower blessings and benediction on his disciples. His Varabhaya Mudrā, Dharma-cakra-paribarttana Mudrā, Bhūmisparśa Mudrā, etc., arc not only very popular but are of immense mystic importance. In both Hindu and Buddhist Tantra, Varābhaya Mudrā is of great importance; with its help Ādi Buddha and Ādi Śiva shower blessings on their disciples.Source: Google Books: Tantra, Its Mystic and Scientific Basis
Mudrā (मुद्रा).—From the time of the Vedas, the mudrā or symbol of the hand was utilized in sacred recitation. Priests used certain gestures with their hands while repeating the mantras and these movements called mudrās became a sacred ritual.Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras
Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)
Mudrā (मुद्रा, “signs”).—Vajravārāhī is also beautified by a set of five tantric ornaments, all made of human bone, and known collectively as the five mudrās, or signs—indicating here the signs of kāpālika observance. A sixth sign is also worn by male gods, consisting of ashes from the cremation ground smeared over the body. It is these six that became the prototype for tantric yogins, who wore them as part of their “skull observance” (kapālikavrata).
The Abhisamayamañjarī lists both the fivefold and sixfold sets of mudrās and comments on Vajravārāhī’s new status: “Vajravārāhī bears the five signs of observance (mudrās), namely, chaplet (cakri), earrings (kuṇḍala), necklace (kaṇṭhī), armlets (rucaka), and girdle made of pieces of bone (khaṇḍāṅkamekhalā)”.
A a set of five or six, the mudrās are naturally equated with the five buddhas and the sixth, transcendent buddha. They may also take on a ritual application, as they are on occasion installed on the yogin-goddess’ body with mantra syllables rather in the manner of an armoring.Source: Google Books: Vajrayogini
Mudrā (मुद्रा) of three kinds, as defined in the ‘mantra-utpatti’ chapter of the 9th-century Vajrāmṛtatantra or Vajrāmṛtamahātantra: one of the main and earliest Buddhist Yoginītantras. After solving her previous doubts (in verse 5-6), now Māmakī wishes to know the origin of the Mudrās (samayamudrā and so on) and the mantras of the māṇḍaleyas. The answer begins in stanza 9, where the Bhagavān states that the mudrās are of three kinds, based on body, speech, and mind (from which they arise or from which they are effected).
Stanza 10 briefly lists and describes the three kinds of mudrā:
- karamudrā is connected with the body;
- vāṅmudrā is connected with the projection of the mantras, etc.;
- cihnamudrā (which includes vajramudrā, ghaṇṭāmudrā, etc.) is related to the mind.
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.
General definition (in Buddhism)
Mudrā (मुद्रा) is the forty-second 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 (eg., mudrā), 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’.Source: Wisdom Library: BuddhismOne of the three mystics in Tantric Buddhism, which is the symbolic gesture of hand fingers.Source: Buddhist Door: Glossary
The Mudrās are said to be five-fold when classified by the division of Families.
- The Brahman Maid is born into a Twice-born family; and she belongs to the Tathāgata Family.
- The Kṣatriya Maid is of royal lineage, born into the peacock and Moon families; she is said to belong to the ambrosial Vajra Family.
- The Vaiśya Maid is a cowherder; and she belongs to the Karma Family.
- The Śūdra maid is a servant; and she belongs to the Great Vairocana Family.
- The Dancer belongs to the Padma Family;
- The Dyer belongs to the Karma Family.
- The Outcaste belongs to the Vajra Family;
- Caṇḍālinī belongs to the Ratna Family.
The five mudrās are determined in this way.Source: abhidharma.ru: The Saṃpuṭa Tantra
India history and geogprahy
Mudrā.—(CII 4), the position of fingers in worship. (LP), the government seal. Note: mudrā is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary
The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.
Languages of India and abroad
mudrā (मुद्रा).—f (S) A seal; a signet; a stamping or imprinting instrument. 2 The mark of a seal or stamp; a stamp, an impression, a print. 3 A seal-ring. 4 A large earring (of wood, tortoiseshell &c.) worn by Gosavis &c. 5 A figure or mark made (as by the vaiṣṇava &c. on the breast &c.) with gōpīcandana or other earth. 6 A coin or piece of money; and, by eminence, a rupee. Used with the prefixes tāmra, raupya, suvarṇa, it signi- fies respectively, a copper piece, a pysa; a silver piece, a rupee; a gold piece, a Muhar, a Pagoda &c. 7 Stamp, feature, visage, cast, air; the appearance, or any appearance, considered as characteristic or indicative. 8 A mode of intertwining the fingers during worship. 9 An air or a disposition of countenance during abstract meditation. Four such are enumerated; viz. gōcarī, agōcarī, cēca- rī, jñāna. Some enumerate thus:--khēcarī -bhūcarī- cāñcarī-agōcarī-alakṣī or alakṣya -mudrā. Some mudrā (attitudes) during worship are aṅkuśamudrā, garuḍamudrā, ghaṇṭāmudrā, dhēnumudrā, śaṅkhamudrā. Numerous other mudrā (attitudes or appearances) are enumerated and duly appropriated; as dhyānamudrā, śāntamudrā, kāmamudrā, krōdhamudrā &c. 10 A person as to shape and bulk; a figure or form. Ex. hyācī mudrā lāhana paṇa kṛti mōṭhī. 11 The fruit of the tree kāsalī. mudrā utaraṇēṃ g. of s. To fall in countenance; to become downcast, wan, glum.Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary
mudrā (मुद्रा).—f A seal. A coin. An air. A seal- ring. A print. A figure. mudrā utaraṇēṃ To fall in countenance.Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.
Mudra (मुद्र).—a. (mudaṃ rāti iti) Giver of joy; बभौ मरुत्वान् विकृतः स मुद्रः (babhau marutvān vikṛtaḥ sa mudraḥ) Bk.1.19.
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1) A seal, an instrument for sealing or stamping; especially a seal-ring, signet-ring; अनया मुद्रया मुद्रयैनम् (anayā mudrayā mudrayainam) Mu.1; नाममुद्राक्षराण्यनुवाच्य परस्परमवलोकयतः (nāmamudrākṣarāṇyanuvācya parasparamavalokayataḥ) Ś.1; बभौ मरुत्वान् विकृतः स-मुद्रः (babhau marutvān vikṛtaḥ sa-mudraḥ) Bk.1.19 (fig. also); इति प्रायो भावाः स्फुरदवधिमुद्रामुकुलिताः (iti prāyo bhāvāḥ sphuradavadhimudrāmukulitāḥ) Bh.2.114.
2) A stamp, print, mark, impression; चतुःसमुद्रमुद्रः (catuḥsamudramudraḥ) K. 191; सिन्दूरमुद्राङ्कितः (sindūramudrāṅkitaḥ) (bāhuḥ) Gīt.4.
3) A pass, passport (as given by a seal-ring); अगृहीतमुद्रः कटकान्निष्कामसि (agṛhītamudraḥ kaṭakānniṣkāmasi) Mu.5; गृहीतमुद्रः सलेखः पुरुषो गृहीतः (gṛhītamudraḥ salekhaḥ puruṣo gṛhītaḥ) Mu.5; शाहसूनोः शिवस्यैषा मुद्रा भद्राय राजते (śāhasūnoḥ śivasyaiṣā mudrā bhadrāya rājate) (wording on Śivājee's seal).
4) A stamped coin, coin, piece of money.
5) A medal.
6) An image, a sign, badge, token.
7) Shutting, closing, sealing; सैवौष्ठमुद्रा स च कर्णपाशः (saivauṣṭhamudrā sa ca karṇapāśaḥ) U.6.27; क्षिपन्निद्रा- मुद्रां मदनकलहच्छेदसुलभाम् (kṣipannidrā- mudrāṃ madanakalahacchedasulabhām) Māl.2.12 'removing the seal of sleep' &c.
8) A mystery.
9) (In Rhet.) The expression of things by their right names.
1) Name of certain positions of the fingers practised in devotion or religious worship; योजनात् सर्वदेवानां द्रावणात् पापसंहतेः । तस्मान्मुद्रेति सा ख्याता सर्वकामार्थसाधनी (yojanāt sarvadevānāṃ drāvaṇāt pāpasaṃhateḥ | tasmānmudreti sā khyātā sarvakāmārthasādhanī) Tantrasāra; Dk.2.2.
11) A particular branch of education (reckoning by the fingers).
12) A dance accordant with tradition.
13) A lock, stopper.
14) A nymph; बभौ मरुत्वान् विकृतः स- मुद्रः (babhau marutvān vikṛtaḥ sa- mudraḥ) Bk.1.19.
15) "Parched grain" in the form of rice, paddy etc. (Yoginī Tantra, Ch.VI quoted in Woodroffe, Śakti and Śākta, 571).
16) Particular lines, marks; माता पुत्रः पिता भ्राता भार्या मित्रजनस्तथा । अष्टापदपदस्थाने दक्ष मुद्रेव लक्ष्यते (mātā putraḥ pitā bhrātā bhāryā mitrajanastathā | aṣṭāpadapadasthāne dakṣa mudreva lakṣyate) || Mb.12.298.4.
17) Type or block for printing.Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
Mudra (मुद्र).—m. and nt. for Sanskrit mudrā, f., position of the hands: very often in text of Mmk, tho the f. is still commoner; e.g. mudraiḥ 423.7; mudreṇa 422.8; 424.9; mahāmudraḥ 472.8, mudro 9, dharmamudraṃ (n. sg. nt.) 10; with f. in same vicinity quite often, e.g. padmamud- reṇa 424.18, padmamudrayā 20; mahāmudraṃ (n. sg. nt.) 475.5, mahāmudrāṃ 9, sarvamudreṣu 13; kṣemaṃgamo mudraḥ 476.9, etc. Once mudrāt in LV 176.15; see § 9.71. See also s.v. mudrāhastaka.
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Mudrā (मुद्रा).—(in these mgs. not in Sanskrit), (1) (= Pali muddā, acc. to PTSD art of calculation; assoc. with gaṇanā; acc. to DN comm. i.95.19 hattha-muddā-gaṇanā, compare Tibetan below, while gaṇanā is acchiddaka-(q.v. CPD)-gaṇanā), some method of calculation, acc. to Tibetan on LV (compare DN comm. above) lag rtsis, hand-calculation, that is, presumably, figuring by using the fingers in some conventional way (Das renders this Tibetan lines or marks in the hands, pal- mistry, and so Burnouf on Divy 26.12 chiromancie, Introd. 237, but the regular context seems to disprove this); always in a list of arts learned by a young man, and associated with mathematical terms: between saṃkhyā and gaṇanā, LV 4.21; after saṃkhyā and gaṇanā, before dhāraṇā, Mv ii.423.15; -gaṇanāṃ (v.l. °nā-)dhāraṇa- mudrāṃ Mv iii.184.7; after saṃkhyā and gaṇanā, before uddhāra, Divy 3.18; 26.12; 58.17; 100.1; 441.28; 485.5 (here uddhāra is omitted); after gaṇana-nyasana-saṃ- khyā- Bbh 7.5; 103.3; 210.13; (2) wages (perh. compare Sanskrit Lex. id., coin, and AMg. muddā, coin?): divasa-mudrā SP 105.11; 109.3—4, daily wage (so Tibetan, gla ba); (3) a high number: Mvy 8030. See also dharma-mudrā.Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary
(-drā) 1. A seal, a signet. 2. A seal-ring. 3. The mark of a seal or similar impression, a stamp, a print, &c. 4. A coin. 5. A medal. 6. A sign, a token. 7. A mystery. 8. A mode of intertwining the fingers during religious worship. E. mud to please, (by it,) Unadi aff. rak .Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary
Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. 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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khēcarīmudrā (खेचरीमुद्रा).—f An attitude of the Yogi.
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Search found 50 books and stories containing Mudra or Mudrā. You can also click to the full overview containing English textual excerpts. Below are direct links for the most relevant articles:
The Indian Buddhist Iconography (by Benoytosh Bhattachacharyya)
Parama Samhita (English translation) (by Krishnaswami Aiyangar)
Lalitopakhyana (Lalita Mahatmya) (by G.V. Tagare)
The Mirror of Gesture (abhinaya-darpana) (by Ananda Coomaraswamy)
Plate VII - Hands of Images < [Plates]