Vitarka mudra is one of the hasta mudras performed in the Buddhist tradition to imbibe the teachings of Buddha.
This hand gesture can be seen in many Buddha statues with a right palm next to the heart facing forward, represents the transmission of Buddha’s teachings.
To attain Vitarka mudra curl the index finger to touch its tip with the thumb keeping the remaining fingers extended upward. The index finger and thumb are joined to form a circle and the palm is facing forward away from the body. It opens one’s mind and spirit to gain spirituality.
Meaning and Interpretation
The term “Vitarka” is referred to as “reasoning or deliberation” and “mudra” means “seal or closure”. Buddha used to attain Vitarka mudra while discussing or transmitting his wisdom with his disciples.
The discussion of the acquired knowledge of Buddha sometimes even leads to the argument and explanation of the ideas, hence the name. Due to the discussing or explanatory nature of Vitarka mudra, it is also known as Vyakhana Mudra (mudra of explanation).
In English, it is known as the gesture of debate or discussion mudra.
Vitarka mudra symbolizes a deeper meaning that has a universal significance.
Union of index finger and thumb
- The joining of thumb and index finger represents the union of the opposites forming a unit. It expresses the basic duality of the universe viz. male-female, day-night, and new moon-full moon. This is well described as Yin-and-Yang or Siva-and-Sakti.
- The union of the complementary opposites gives rise to a third element that is a bond or energy combining them. It is represented by the circle formed by joining the thumb and forefinger.
Three raised fingers
- The three raised fingers, middle, ring, and little fingers represent the tripartite nature of the Universe.
- This omnipresent trinity is well explained as, past-present-future; waking-dreaming-sleeping; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; mother, father, and child.
Buddhist philosophy of vitarka mudra
The thumb and index finger are joined at the tips forming a circle in this mudra. Gautam Buddha after understanding the cycle of birth and death used his wisdom to spread the truth teaching or dharma among his disciples. Similarly, the circle symbolically represents the eternal flow of energy or information.
Tibetan Buddhism describes Vitarka Mudra as a mystic gesture of Taras and Boddhisattvas. In Tibet, people refer to it as Prajnalinganabinaya mudra.
To Perform Vitarka Mudra
- Sit comfortably in any meditative posture.
- Bring your right hand forward closer to the chest with the palm facing forward, as in Abhaya Mudra.
- Curl the index finger inwards to touch the tip of the thumb forming a complete circle.
- Let the remaining middle, ring, and little fingers raised towards the sky.
The ancient version of Vitarka mudra actively involves only the right hand to curl the forefinger and thumb. The left palm rests on the lap facing upward.
In contemporary practices, Vitarka mudra is performed by both hands. The fingers of both the hands are arranged in an above-described manner in front of the chest. The only difference is the left palm is facing towards the body while the right palm away from it. In this version, the fingers share similarities with the Dharmachakra mudra.
Vitarka Mudra Benefits
1. Encourages wisdom
Vitarka mudra is generally practiced by a mentor or guru who has attained spirituality and enlightenment. As they transmit their wisdom and knowledge among their disciples to inculcate the same principles.
As the knowledge spreads from one being to the other just like a candle spreads its light. Hence, it is practiced to promote wisdom.
2. Develops a sense of clarity
Due to the transmission and acquisition of wisdom, it brings clarity to mind and thoughts. Hence improves the analyzing potential to make wise decisions.
3. Uplifts Energy
This pose is also helpful in maintaining a connection to the external world (elements) to absorb energy fully. Thus meditating in Vitarka mudra aids in uplifting energy.
4. Brings enlightenment
Vitarka mudra transmits the teachings of the enlightened one- Gautam Buddha. Therefore, along with developing wisdom, knowledge, spirituality, and energy, it eventually leads to enlightenment.
Either you are a Buddhist, Hindu, or a yogi who is a seeker of truth, Vitarka mudra is a hand gesture for you to enhance your journey. Besides this, the psychic and psychological benefits that it offers are the needs of today’s busy and agile generation.
All in all, there is no other simpler way than Vitarka mudra that can lead you to enlightenment which is as easy as curling your finger.