Introduction To The Bhumisparsha Mudra, A Hand Gesture Used In Buddhism

Bhumisparsha Mudra

The Bhumisparsha Mudra is one of the most important mudras in Buddhism. In this guide we will look at the Bhumisparsha mudra. But if you are new to mudras, you might like to start by reading my beginners guide to mudras.

Here’s the basic facts on this mudra.

  • The Buddha is seen using the Bhumisparsha Mudra in many Buddha statues and in Buddhist art. In the Bhumisparsha Mudra position, we see the left hand held in the Buddha’s lap with the palm upwards, while the right hand is lowered to touch the earth
  • The Buddha is said to have used the Bhumisparsha Mudra right before attaining enlightenment.
  • Here is everything you need to know about the Bhumisparsha Mudra.


Introduction to the Bhumisparsha / Earth Witness Mudra

The Bhumisparsha (or “Earth Witness”) mudra is one of the most iconic of all mudras (hand gestures) in Buddhism.

Lots of Buddha statues and Buddha art shows Buddha using this hand gesture. Typically youll see Buddha sitting meditating with left hand help paml up on his lap and the right hand reaching down to touch the Earth.

This is one of the most important of all Buddhist mudras because it represent the moment when Buddha achieved enlightenment.



The background to the Bhumisparsha or “Earth Witness” Mudra

You might be wondering precisely what this mudra is called the “Earth Witness” mudra. Then name of the mudra actually means a lot.

One day, the Buddha, Siddartha Guatama, was sitting meditating by the Bodhi tree when he was attacked the the demon called Mara along with Mara’s monsters.

The attackers hoped to frighten Siddhartha Guatama (Buddha) from his place under the Bodhi tree. Buddha remained unmoved. Mara claimed his spiritual successes to be greater than Buddha’s and took his place under the tree.

“I am his witness” cried Mara’s monsters.

“Who will speak for you?” said Mara to Siddhartha.

Sidhartha reached his right hand down to touch the earth.

The earth roared, “I bear you witness.”

Mara disappeared. It was then Siddhartha Guatama realised enlightenment.



What the Bhumisparsha mudra means

All Buddhist mudras have a specific meaning. The Bhumisparsha mudra (“Bhumi-sparsha”) literally means “Touch the Earth Gesture” . There is symbolism involved in the name too. It represents steadfastness, the Earth being representing the grounding the Buddha needed in order to not be swayed by Mara.

Each hand also represents something in its own right .The right hand reaching down to touch earth represents upaya (skillful means) and the left hands on the lap represents prajna (wisdom).


How To Do Bhumisparsha Mudra (Earth Touching Gesture)

Sit comfortably with good posture (you can read more about meditation postures in our guide to Zen meditation)

Close your eyes and meditate for a few moments.

Now hold your left hand open palm up on your lap.

Place your right hand over your leg so that your finger tip touch the earth.

Meditate in this position.


Benefits of the Bhumisparsha Mudra?

  • Traditionally the mudra is believed to do the following:
  • Helps to calm the mind
  • Promote meditation and makes it easier to focus when meditating. The left palm facing upwards is a very calming position. If you place both your hands upwards on your lap (try it now) you will notice that you feel more accepting and more relaxed.
  • The fingers reaching down and touching the earth also help you to feel more grounded.
  • For Buddhists, because this mudra is so symbolic of such an important time in the life of Buddha, the mudra makes you feel more connected to Buddha.

This is one mudra that you should use when you are trying to achieve enlightenment.

What do you think about this mudra, and what does it mean to you?

Leave a comment.


Paul Martin Harrison

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discovery their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book Journey To The Buddha Within You.

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