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Hindu goddess Sarasvati depicted performing the mudra (hand gesture) Abhayamudra

The mudra ( Sanskrit , f., मुद्रा , mudrā , originally: "seal") is a symbolic hand gesture (hand gesture, hand position) that is used both in everyday life (see the greeting gesture Namaste ), in religious practice as well as in Indian dance finds its application. Translated from Sanskrit, mudra means "that which brings joy". Mud means joy, but also a gesture to please the gods. Ra means "that which gives".


Nowadays, mudra gestures are mainly associated with Hindu and Buddhist (in the latter case especially esoteric Buddhism ) practice and can also be found in many representations of Buddhas , Bodhisattvas or Hindu deities. On the one hand, they serve to represent a religious symbolism , on the other hand they also have a very specific function - for example as part of a cleaning process, for example to spiritually clean living spaces. Especially in tantrism , the mudras become more complex and numerous.

The mudras are an essential part of the representations of deities. The position of the hand and fingers usually indicates an activity with which the sitter is engaged, and this activity is an expression of an idea. The most common mudra of earlier times was the abhayamudra , which is the idea of ​​"fear not". This mudra is especially well known in Buddhism. Another important hand gesture in the representation of the “enlightened one” is the dharmachakra mudra - it is the sign of “turning the wheel”, ie. H. (the beginning) of the teaching activity of Buddha and therefore closely connected with the holy place of Sarnath .

A mudra in tantric Buddhism always includes a mantra and mandala . Together they form the three secrets of the universe, thought, word and deed (Japanese: Sanmitsu).


For some directions of yoga , mudras, going beyond their symbolic meaning, have the function of acting on the organism and are thus part of yoga practice. The chinmudra (index finger and thumb together, hands lie on crossed legs) is supposed to promote the flow of energy. The right palm in the left lying on the crossed legs characterizes the meditator ( dhyanamudra ). The vishnumudra (index and middle finger to the palm) is used for breathing exercises. In the old Hatha Yoga texts, mudra describes energetically particularly effective exercises. In this sense, every Asana (yogic posture) - if this is performed in connection with certain concentrations - can also become a mudra (e.g. Viparita Karani Mudra ).


Mudras play an important role in Indian classical dance and acting .

Sculptural examples


  • Gertrud Hirschi: Mudras - Yoga with the little finger. 18th edition. Hermann Bauer Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2002, ISBN 3-7626-0567-X .
  • Maria Köhne: Mudras. Healthy and balanced through finger yoga. Falken-Verlag, Niedernhausen 2000, ISBN 3-635-60623-5 (German), ISBN 5-8183-0371-3 (Russian), ISBN 83-88872-04-4 (Polish).
  • Matthias Mala : Kundalini Mudra. A white magic ritual to achieve bliss. Books on Demand GmbH, Norderstedt 2007, ISBN 978-3-8334-6268-9 ( Theurgia 3 series ).
  • Kim da Silva: health in our hands. Mudras - the communication with our life force through our hands. Revised new edition. Droemer / Knaur, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-426-87394-6 ( Knaur 87394 Mens sana ).
  • P. de Kat Angelino (text); Tyra Kleen (drawings): Mudras in Bali. Holding hands of the priests , Folkwang Verlag, Hagen iW and Darmstadt, 1923 digitized

See also

Web links

Commons : Mudra  - collection of images, videos and audio files