Bhumisparsha (Earth Witness) Mudra




Bhumisparsha means 'touching the earth'. It is more commonly known as the 'earth witness' mudra. This mudra, formed with all five fingers of the right hand extended to touch the ground, symbolizes the Buddha's enlightenment under the bodhi tree, when he summoned the earth goddess, Sthavara, to bear witness to his attainment of enlightenment.

The right hand, placed upon the right knee in earth-pressing mudra, and complemented by the left hand-which is held flat in the lap in the dhyana mudra of meditation, symbolizes the union of method and wisdom, samasara and nirvana, and also the realizations of the conventional and ultimate truths. It is in this posture that Shakyamuni overcame the obstructions of Mara while meditating on Truth.

The second Dhyani Buddha, Akshobhya, is depicted in this mudra. He is believed to transform the delusion of anger into mirror-like wisdom. It is this metamorphosis that the Bhumisparsha mudra helps in bringing about.




Sources

  1. Nitin Kumar, "Mudras of the Great Buddha: Symbolic Gestures and Postures." Exotic India Arts, August 2001.
  2. Meher McArthur, Reading Buddhist Art: An Illustrated Guide to Buddhist Signs and Symbols (Thames & Hudson, 2004), 111.
  3. Mudras: Sacred Hand Gestures - BuddhaNet
  4. Buddhist Art and Architecture: Hand Mudras - BuddhaNet
  5. The Ten Most Important Mudras - Neurotopia
  6. Buddhist Hand Gestures - Government of Tibet in Exile
  7. Mudras: Hand Positions of the Buddha - Lotus Sculpture