Dharmachakra (Wheel-Turning) Mudra
Dharmachakra in Sanskrit means 'Wheel of Dharma'. This mudra symbolizes one of the most important moments in the life of Buddha, the occasion when he preached to his companions the first sermon after his Enlightenment in the Deer Park at Sarnath. This event is often referred to as the setting into motion of the Wheel of the teaching of the Dharma.
The three remaining fingers of the two hands remain extended. These fingers are themselves rich in symbolic significance:
- The middle finger represents the 'hearers' of the teachings
- The ring finger represents the 'solitary realizers'
- The Little finger represents the Mahayana or 'Great Vehicle'.
This mudra is displayed by the first Dhyani Buddha Vairochana. Each of the Five Dhyani Buddhas is associated with a specific human delusion, and it is believed that they help mortal beings in overcoming them. Thus, Vairochana is believed to transform the delusion of ignorance into the wisdom of reality. By displaying the Dharmachakra mudra, he thus helps adepts in bringing about this transition.
The mudra is especially characterized by a variety of forms, even in India. Generally speaking, the right hand is held at the level of the breast, palm facing outward, while the index finger and the thumb, join at the tips to form the mystic circle, touch the joined index and thumb of the left hand, whose palm is turned inward. It symbolizes one of the most important moments in the life of the Buddha, the occasion when he preached to his former companions the first sermon after his Enlightenment, in the Deer Park in Sarnath. Making explicit reference to the wheel as it does, this mudra is particularly steeped in the rich and ancient symbolism of the wheel in Buddhist metaphysics. Apart from the Buddha Gautama, only Maitreya (the Buddha of the future) can, as a dispenser of the Law, form this mudra.