The physical attributes and posture of each Buddha statue define its meaning and purpose. These statues teach, enlighten, share wisdom, and transport you to a meditative state through their hand gestures or mudras. Common positions include standing, sitting, reclining, and some walking representations of the Buddha too.
Most of the statues of Buddha depict him in a sitting position while he teaches and meditates. A standing idol indicates he is rising to teach on attaining nirvana, while the walking Buddha depicts his journey towards enlightenment. The reclining pose marks the final stage of Buddha's earthly existence.
The Buddha deity conveys life's inspirational virtues through the different hand symbols and postures its statues capture. Observing these poses helps you comprehend the statue's true meaning and encourages you to become more mindful.
Explaining some common poses for a deeper understanding before you source one for your home:
Here the Buddha's flat right palm faces forward away from his body and in front of his chest. The Buddha may be standing, seated, or walking while in this pose, inspiring perseverance, and faith.
Both hands are positioned at chest level for this pose, indicating that Buddhist teachings originate from Buddha's heart. The right hand faces outward, and the left hand inwards with the circles formed using thumbs and index fingers touching one another.
Statues of Buddha depict the meditative pose in a seated position with legs crossed. Both hands rest flat on the lap, with the right one resting on the left hand's palm. Joining the top of the two thumbs reflects a triangle with an alms bowl positioned atop to indicate giving up on material comforts.
The enlightenment mudra represents the strength of resolve by overpowering inner demons through meditation. While seated in a lotus pose, Buddha stretches his right hand over the right knee.
His right palm faces inwards with the middle finger lightly touching the ground. An upward-facing left palm lies flat on the lap with an alms bowl resting on it.
Gift Giving Mudra
Through the gift-giving seated or standing mudra, Buddha pays tribute to acts of generosity. Buddha’s right palm is positioned face forwards and over the right knee with the thumb and index finger touching each other.
The left palm facing forwards at chest level often displays a second mudra. One such is when the ring finger and thumb are brought together to reflect a gesture that differs from the one created on the right.
Intellectual Debate Mudra
This mudra emphasizes the importance of intellectual debates and healthy discussions that reaffirm Buddha’s teachings. Here the right palm is held chest high while facing outwards with the thumb and index finger forming a circle.
The circle symbolizes a constant flow of energy with no beginning or end. Since the Buddha is seated in a lotus pose, his left palm facing upwards lies flat on the lap. An alms bowl is placed on this left palm while the Buddha engages in public debates.
While lying on his right side, the right hand supports the reclining statue's head. Towards the end of Buddha's earthly life on achieving supreme enlightenment, he enters a transitional state of Parinirvana. He is released from karma and the cycle of rebirth and attains eternal self-realization.
With both feet firmly grounded, the standing pose repels conflict, instills fearlessness and generosity. It is believed that after obtaining enlightenment, Buddha rises from meditation to teach, wherein both hands usually display the same mudra. When the soles of his feet are facing upwards, it indicates a receiving meditative posture.
Unique to Chinese Buddhism, the ‘Budai’ or laughing Buddha represents a loving idol who symbolizes contentment. Commonly depicted with a big belly, this statue is known to be more welcoming, bringing prosperity and wealth. It is often believed that rubbing his belly will bring you good luck.
As the Buddha stands, one foot is placed ahead of the other to depict motion. This pose indicates grace and inner peace as the Buddha begins his teaching journey. Some interpretations consider this position to indicate his return from heaven after preaching there.
Buddha statues may be carved out of wood, crystal, clay, or sturdy metal like copper or bronze. Over one hundred varying Buddha poses are reproductions of famous sculptures or representations of highly revered statues.
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