Parama Samhita (English translation)

by Krishnaswami Aiyangar | 1940 | 69,979 words

This page describes mystic signs (mudra) which is Chapter 14 of the English translation of the Parama Samhita, representing a manual of the Pancaratra school of Vaishnavism philosophy. These pages summarize ritualistic worship, initiation and other topics, as contained in the various Agamas belonging to the Pancaratra school

Chapter 14 - Mystic signs (mudrā)


1. What is it that you referred to as Mudrā sign, the making of which is prescribed. That describe to me, O, Vaikuṇṭha along with its distinguishing features.


2. That by which the happiness of those on whom one would inflict pain is made to flee, is considered, for that reason, O, Brahman! these mudrās are attractive to the Gods.

3. By means of these mudrās one insures recognition for himself. This is done specially in acts of worship, and, by that, worship is rendered more efficacious.

4-5. Whatever mudrā evokes the favour of any particular deity, that is said to be the mudrā of that deity. The heart, the head, the tuft of hair on the head, the armour-covering, astram (space round oneself) and the eyes, these are to be understood as the most secret, generally accepted organs of the deities.

6. If you bring the outstretched thumb in contact with the conjoint middle and ring-finger, and place the thus closed hand over your heart, that disposition of the hand is designated the “Mudrā of the Heart”.

7. With a clenched hand, strike the pointing finger with the thumb, and then place the fist and thumb on the crown of your head, such a disposition of the hand is called Śiro-mudrā (mark for head).

8. Having, in the same manner, doubled the fist, firmly place the thumb erect upon the doubled fist, place the hand at the point where the tuft is. This disposition of the hand is called Śikhā-mudrā.

9. Place the thumb bent in the hand, and cover it over by the fingers; and then press the forefinger close. You then have the Kavaca-mudrā.

10. Bending the fingers of the hand and clenching it as if thrusting a spear, and bending the other fingers (then the thumb and forefinger) somewhat across, you get the Astra- mudrā.

11. Place the Śikhā-Mudrā upside down between the brows. It then becomes Netra-mudrā. In all these mudrās the right hand alone is to be used.

12. These six are the mudrās to be used in the six rites called Aṅga-Nyāsa (placing of the organs). By the use of these a practitioner protects himself from evil.

13. When you place the closed hands either on the heart, or on the head, fingers upwards, this disposition of the hands is to be understood as salutation or obeisance to the Supreme One.

14. Making the two thumbs even, tips upward, and placing the; hands, one within the other, Mudrā is formed. This is held to apply both when in position and in application.

15. In this, if the hands be joined loosely, and held over the head with the thumbs downwards you make the Abhiṣeka-mudrā. The placing of this mudrā makes the object pure.

16. Spreading the fingers upwards with the' wrists raised, place the thumbs within the hands to make the Padma-mudrā.

17-18. The Cakra-mudrā of great beneficence, is made by whirling disc-wise the two hands held together from the wrist upwards; and is to be used in making the while at the mental effort (as a preliminary to worship) at creation, and in making the cakra (circle of space) for worship in order, for the purpose of protecting oneself.

19. Clenching both hands and holding the thumbs bent over them, join them together and then everting the whole and setting the thumbs free, we get the Gadā Mudrā which is regarded the best for counteracting evil and for protecting the earth.

20-22. Place the right thumb into the clenched left hand make the remaining thumb and the pointing-finger joined together, stretch out and let the other three right fingers cover the left fist; this makes the Śaṅkha-mudrā excellent for retention of wealth. PadmaCakraGadāŚaṅkha are the four recognised mudrās.

23-26. These four, place in the four hands of God. For the bow make the hand as if holding and so for the arrow. For the sword the mudrā is a sword drawn out of the scabbard, and for the shield a circle. Place the hands back to back, interlock the two little fingers and make the two pointing fingers aslant and interlocked; bend the other two fingers on the palms to resemble the wings and let down the joined thumbs. This disposition of the hands is called the Garuḍa-mudrā which brings great benefit.

27. Spread out all the fingers with interspace upwards, and then stretch out the fore arm, then you get the Ananta-mudrā.

28. If this be made when making the bed, it gives protection to oneself; at all times it destroys the poison of rodents and other poisonous insects.

29. Raising both hands with the fingers folded and stretched out you make the Prārthana-mudrā (sign of prayerful invitation) when one is entering God’s presence, or in invoking God’s presence.

30. A wise man will touch his chest, both right side and left, the right for the sake of Śrīvatsa (mark of Śrī or Lakṣmī) and the left for Kaustubha (the jewel).

31. The characteristic features of these signs (mudrās), I have explained in general terms. Their use in worship has already been explained as occasion offered.

32. It is not possible to deal exhaustively with these features, O Brahman, as these are endless; because the deities are many and the signs (Mudrās) have to be separate.

33. In the case of all deities worship may be conducted with these signs of common use. Two classes of Mudrās are generally accepted and they are called nāmanī and

34. These mudrās alone should be used in worshipping attendant deities. Even in the case of Acyuta, the principal deity, these two should be used as well.

35. To those desiring release (mokṣamudrā is made in form in the mind. To others however, wise men prefer the making of the mudrā by the hand.

36. In a concourse of people never show the mudrā openly. This is the secret among the secret mantras, and hence must be used in secret.

37. To one uninitiated, do not exhibit the actual features of the mudrā. The Gods are displeased thereby and the doing of it becomes fruitless.

In the Parama Saṃhitā of the Pāñcarātra Chapter XIV, Mudrās (mystic signs).