Buddha Mudras

Ushnisha-vijaya: Ushnisha-vijaya (Sanskrit), or Tsug Tor Nam Par Gyelma (Tibetan), shortened to Namgyalma, is a Buddha Mother who arises from the Buddha's Crown. The eight-armed goddess Namgyalma is one of three deities associated with longevity and the fulfillment of earthly desires. The other two are White Tara and Amitayus. Namgyalma also represents the Mother of all Buddhas. Like all Buddhist deities, she is essentially a manifestation of Emptiness acting as a bodhisattva. She is able to bestow longevity on beings not for selfish reasons, but for the purpose of helping all others towards enlightenment.

She is a purification deity as well, invoked in the presence of the dead, and she is also invoked as a means of settling disputes. The long mantra of Namgyalma is a practice, which is very powerful not only for granting long life but also for purification.

Avalokiteshvara: The Sanskrit epithet Avalokiteshvara literally means Worldward-looking Lord. Avalokiteshvara is the Bodhisattva Ushnisha-vijaya of compassion. He is the earthly manifestation of the self-born, eternal Buddha, Amitabha. He guards this world in the interval between the historical Sakyamuni Buddha, and the next Buddha of the Future Maitreya. He is the lord endowed with complete illumination, who refrains from entering the blissful state of nirvana to remain here below and save the creatures of the earth. This devotion to the salvation of others emphasizes the profound compassion this bodhisattva represents. According to legend, Avalokiteshvara made a vow that he would not rest until he had liberated all the beings in all the realms of suffering. After working diligently at this task for a very long time, he looked out and realized the immense number of miserable beings yet to be saved. Seeing this, he became sad and his head split into thousands of pieces. Amitabha Buddha put the pieces back together as a body with very many Avalokiteshvara arms and many heads, so that he could work with myriad beings all at the same time.

Avalokiteshvara is visualized in many forms, with various numbers of faces and arms, and various colors and ornaments. The most usual form of Avalokiteshvara is the four-armed form in which the white male human form is seated holding up a mala (rosary) in his upper right hand, a lotus in the upper left and a jewel in his cupped hands. His holding a white lotus flower in his second left hand symbolizes his stainless wisdom that has realized the nature of emptiness. Just as the lotus, that is rooted in mud but is not soiled by it, his pure wisdom is undefiled by the faults of the world. His holding a crystal rosary in his second right hand symbolizes his liberating sentient beings from cyclic existence with ideal means and aspirations. The jewel symbolizes a mind of enlightenment which is the treasure of supreme merits. His hands folded at the heart symbolize supplicating the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions, out of their great compassion, to look after poor bewildered beings. He is one of the most loved deities and known as Avalokiteshvara in the ancient Sanskrit language of India, as Kuan-yin in China, as Kannon in Japan.

Buddha Amitayus (Buddha Amithaba ): He is the main bodhisattva and symbolizes long life, merit and wisdom. He is seated in Virasana (crossed legs with turned out heels) with hands in Dhyanamudra (meditative gesture). He wears bracelets, armlets and large yoke collar with pectoral and sacred chain covering most of the torso. He is crowned with a tri-partite crown beginning at the hairline, and has a simplified usnisa (topknot) that ends in a smooth, conical flame. Amitayus is the principal Buddha for overcoming the power that death and ignorance have over human beings. Amitayus' body is said to be like a ruby mountain, shining like a pure jewel. He is also associated with peacocks, his throne sometimes being painted with an array of these birds as its support. Generally, he is depicted as having a red body and holding a lotus or nectar vase with his hands. The nectar vase, filled with the subtle life-energy (nectar) demonstrates the immense power of this element. He is seated on a lotus that symbolizes pure intentions of all activities.

Manjushri: Manjushri, one of the important bodhisattvas, combines the role of keeper of the wisdom and teacher of the Buddhist doctrine. He is usually represented in the act of brandishing a flaming sword in his right hand cleaving the darkness of ignorance. The esoteric schools of late Buddhism elaborated various forms of him, with multiple arms and heads. Prev...

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