Seated Buddha Figure Displaying Dharmachakra Mudra

Illustration

Prashanth Gopalan
by
published on 11 September 2015

Here, the figure seated in the lotus position features two important details: first, a halo, indicating that Prince Siddhartha has attained Enlightenment and so has become the "Buddha", or the Enlightened One, and second, the Dharmachakra Mudra, a hand gesture that represents the "Wheel of Dharma", symbolizing an important occasion in the life of the Buddha; the delivery of his first sermon to his followers after his Enlightenment in the Deer Park at Sarnath, in northern India.

By bringing the thumb and index fingers of each hand together to form a circle, the Buddha sets into motion the Dharmachakra Mudra, or Wheel of Dharma, symbolizing the interconnectedness and interdependence of all life, existence and consequence by way of the laws of Dharma. Additionally, each of the extended fingers of each hand represents a Buddhist virtue or teaching, and the placement of the Mudra in front of the chest symbolizes that these teachings emanate from the Buddha's heart.

This is a detail from one of the outer walls of the Ajanta cave complex, an ancient Buddhist monastery and UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad District of Maharashtra, India.

Originally built from the 2nd century BCE, with additional caves added in subsequent centuries, the Ajanta cave complex contains some of the finest surviving examples of ancient Indian and Buddhist religious art and architecture in the Indian subcontinent.

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