Buddhas Hand Gesture Dharmacakra Mudra symbolizes the first preaching of the law by the Buddha after reaching enlightenment in the deer park at Sarnath in the city of Benares.
Dharmacakra mudra hand pose is not only used to represent the first sermon at Mrigadava (Sarnath) but also the miracle of Sravasti. In addition to these, this hand posture represents the preaching or teaching mudra.
In Dharmacakra mudra the Buddha was explaining and teaching the Dharma, the true knowledge he obtained though his own experiences. This mudra in either position suggests setting the “wheel of the law in motion”
This mudra is one that is depicted in some Buddha Statues and iconography in Burma and in Burmese art, although not as common as the Bhumisparsa mudra.
Buddhas Hand Gesture Dharmacakra Mudra
Images from India of the Buddha in Dharmacakra mudra from the Gupta period onward show the left hand held near the heart with the tips of the middle finger and the thumb joined together and palm facing the heart. The right hand shows the tips of the thumb and the forefinger touching each other so as to form a circle with the remaining fingers open. The palm of the hand is faced away from the body with left hand overlapping the fingers on the right hand.
The Gandhara image of the Buddha in Dharmacakra mudra is different. The palm of the left hand in a cup form is turned upwards and that of the right hand turned towards the heart with left hand thumb and forefinger touching the pinkie on the right hand. There are variations of this posture also.
The three extended fingers on the right hand represent the three vehicles of the Buddha’s teaching:
- The pinkie (smallest finger) represents the Mahayana or Great Vehicle
- The middle finger hearers of the teachings
- The ring finger solitary realisers.
The three extended fingers on the left hand symbolise the three jewels of Buddhism:
This mudra is also used in the iconography and Buddha art of Japan and China.