An Introduction to Mudras in Tantra:
In Vajrayana Buddhism, each of the five fingers on each hand represents one of the Five Buddha. They have corresponding colors, directions, elements, syllables, attributes. and qualities. The thumb identifies with the syllable representing the syllable Hum. Each of the five fingers represents the energies of the five winds. They have the elements, aggregates, senses, delusions, and wisdom.
Click here to learn more about the Five Directional Buddha
Heruka Kalachakra Mudra:
The hands of the deity Kalachakra have a symbolic meaning. His 12 pairs of hands give rise to a total of 360 phalanxes or finger joints. This symbolizes the 360 days of the year as a twelve-month lunar cycle. There are 36O divisions of the day. Each divides into sixty breaths, making a total of 21,600 breaths in a twenty-four-hour day. Half of this number during twelve hours and gives rise to the sacred number of 108.
Each of Kalachakra's fingers is black, red, and white on the underside of their phalanxes. From the palm outwards, they symbolize the mind (black), speech (red), and body (white) of the deity.
The back of Kalachakra's fingers represents the five elements and their attributes.
The thumb is yellow representing Earth element.
The first finger is the white of Water element.
The middle finger is the red of Fire element.
The ring finger is the black of Air element.
The little finger is the green of Space element.
The Kalachakra Tantra differs from most other Tantric systems in its placement. There are different colors of the five elements. And the Five Buddhas and their attributes and qualities vary as wellTo View this Kalachakra Statue, Click Here.
Bodhisattvas' Limbic Features
Bodhisattva bears the signs or marks of enlightened beings, which refer to the hands and feet. The soles of the feet are leveled indicating equanimity. They have a thousand-spoke wheel representing a thousand dharmas of the Buddha's teachings. The palms and soles are round and soft. They reveal great compassion and freedom from prejudice.
The arms and hands of a Buddha reach below his knees, symbolizing his boundless generosity. The hands and feet are pliant, indicating service to others, and healing abilities. The fingers are long and slender, indicating virtue. And the fingers and toes have a fine skin webbing at their bases. The eight webs between the fingers symbolize the Noble Eight-fold Path. It in turn leads to the attainment of Buddhahood.
The Palms: Features, Lines, Color ContrastOn painted images, the palms of the hand are rarely marked with any of the major lines of the human hand. Though sometimes the heart, head, and lifelines may show on sculpted images. More often than not, a curved 'X- shape' outlines in the center of the palm. It indicates the union of the mound of Venus - defined by the crease of the lifeline around the base of the thumb. The Lunar mound is on the outer edge of the palm.
A diamond shape may also be in the palm; the union of Saturn and Venus. This is the major Sun and the third- and fourth-hand lines of life, fate, head, and heart. The auspicious thousand-spoke wheel is often painted within this diamond. Or, at the center of the open palms and soles of divine Buddha forms. The shape of the palms, fingers, and fingernails is slender and subtle. They represent the refined qualities of the artist, psychic, or spiritual hand.
The palms and soles of deities are often painted in a complementary and lighter tone. It contrasts that of the general skin color of the deity. This derives from the paler skin pigmentation on the hands and feet of Indians. It also comes from the female practice of staining the palms with henna dye. On dark wrathful forms, this color contrast may delineate.
Hand Gestures in Iconography
There are illustrations of the principal mudras and hand gestures (hasta). They are in fact depicted in iconographical images of the deities. There are the extensive gestures of the hands employed during liturgical rituals. They have a symbolic fluidity of meanings. There are gestures to represent bija syllables, such as Om Ah Hum.
It symbolizes the body, speech, and mind. Dza Hum Bam Ho evokes the absorbing, and dissolving of the meditation deity.
And there are mudras to represent sue listings as the Lords of the Three Families. There are the Five Buddhas and the principal offerings of the mandala. The eight or sixteen offering goddesses are also common.