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Symbolic Gestures in Buddhism Author(s): E. Dale Saunders Source: Artibus Asiae, Vol. 21, No. 1 (1958), pp.

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D. of Two Vajraydna Works. symbolic gesture. The first dates probably from the II (?) century A. Dharanzsamuccaya? dating from the VII century and attributed to Asaniga. 901.. the mudrchave increased to more than 300. Vol. They presuppose a considerable earlier literature. 483. p. in the intro. this same number includes the principal gestures of all Buddhist art of the Far East. According to the Daranijikkyo. Koya-san. permits of a wide interpretation.6 However. and the second from the III (?) century. Paris. Moreover. They have been used to simplify the exposition. kengyo' dhism (mikkyo6or secret doctrine) is that type which requires initiation into certain mysteries before one may attain unification with the godhead.E. took place as far as we know around the VI century A. that is to say the Murimandarajukyo. I007. I947. actual classificationof these mudrd and in what is probably the first sutra to codify them. para. Koya-san Pub. the the Ndradapdnicardtra. 5 Toganoo. T. formulas. I. and of the idea of the mudrd system. places among the first RdmapujLdsarani. It is characterized by the use of an evolved artistic symbolism. Perhaps a generic word like sign would be the best translation. ritual gesture..which will be discussed subsequently. charms. II9I) and (2) the Guhyasa- 6 mdja(T. and mantra. only a secondary significance. I955. Esoteric BudExoteric Buddhism (i. S.D. 569. and so it is often translated in western literature. (i) the Manjuirimzulakalpa(T. between 502-5 57.. Tantric texts containing numerous mudrd. the Murimandarajukyo gives only 16 gestures.These are the mudrd of the chief personages of the Buddhist pantheon. Traditionally the The character in IEI Japanese think of in as a seal. Co.Bhattacharyya. Taisho Issaikyo (henceforth abbreviated to T. DALE SAUNDERS SYMBOLIC GESTURES IN BUDDHISM' maybe divided for the purposeof classificationinto two groups: ymbolic gestures or mudrad2 ceremoniesand those appearingin iconographyboth those appearingin Esoteric (mikkyo)'3 The number is without doubt found in the first group. mandala.) no. It may be added here that Japanese sculpture has been chosen as a point of departure mainly because Japan is the end-point of the Buddhist Part of this paper was delivered at the annual meeting of the Far Eastern Association in Washington. many belong to relatively unimportant divinities and have. is used to render the Sanskrit mudrd. according to the Darani- jikkyo. 885). I 2 3 4 MahdmanivipulavimanaviSvasupratistitaguhyaparamarahasyakalpardjadhbraz. in consequence. or apparent doctrine) is that type exposed in and transmitted by texts.This text dates from perhaps the V century.. Showa 7 (I932). 47 . anonymous tr.. Thus it is the object of this study to present first a consideration of the historic development of the mudrd. B. Mudra. of these mudrd. Tr. Mandara no kenkyz. e. One century later.sLater. and mystic rites. p. Renou and J.4 there arelisted some sixteengestures. by Atigupta in the VII cent. and then an analysis of three symbolic gestures to serve as illustrations. Mention of other mudrais found in the Daksinamuzrtisamhitd. The and greater sculptural pictorial." (L.: "Probably the first sutra explaining the mudrd. tr. Filliozat L' the VII centuryalong with the developing codification of Esoteric Buddhism there are listed more than 300. are not a literal rendition either of the Sanskrit or the Sino-Japaneseand perhaps in the long run they are misleading. About ten offer enough interest that their study in detail may be considered useful for one interestedin the iconography of Buddhism. I169) enumerates o50 mudra. by Ajikuta (Atigupta?). Of course translationslike gesture. TheJayakhasamhift Payot. however. line 5ff.

It is the relationshipof the womb of a woman in which the child to be born is formed. Later texts mention ? 52. 7 8 10 9 Ibid. the sword. Philologically. one finds the word and the gesture on one plane. designatesvery early the idea of a seal or that impressionleft by a seal. One can readilysee the relationshipexisting between seal and Sakti. a sign.April. When the first translatorsrenderedIndian sutrasinto Chinese they used the ChineseideoYin alreadyhad a tradition in China.9 This same relationshipexists for the finger-pose which is at once a seal and a matrix for the words of the Esoteric ritual. that of pose of the hands. The Vaj. Prat.and until the present day. 7I5ff. the stzpa.. The origins of the mudrd may. 1936. It even came to include the sense of mystic formula or dhdrant and the Buddhaimage itself. and just as the seal implies authenticityso the mudrd guaranteethe magic of the rite. III. and agreementsserves as a sign of authenticityas well as of faith."Indian Culture. 55. and the seal which gives to the piece of clay its form or design." OrientalArt. be tracedto the very origins of man himself. 7I6: "Going back to Vedic times. At this time a vertical movement of the hand was used to indicate the accents of the words of the Vedic ritual. and that of sakti. however. and is but little related to the which appearsonly in post-Vedic gesture as a symbol." Cf. p. mudrd may be explainedthen as being a "sign of a pact. a passport. In the religious sense. I.. Tantric Buddhists furthermorebelieve in the identity of mudrd and Sakti. 54. mudrd as a seal of the ritualword connotes a good deal of primitive magic. both of which may be consideredas signs associated with particularpersonages. Thus. a of the a the ritual and iconographic sense. any mark. In the sense of sign."IoThe gesture is a sign.that is.As early as the graphyin (sign or seal) to translatemudrd. mudrd.the art of which developed under the influenceof Buddhism. a seal-ring. we are first aware of a type of gesture in the Vedic period. J. also Pdninfyasiksd is used with the meaning of authority. Subsequently. or the mark of a seal. its presenceon paper. gestures which marked the accents and explained the sense also.Thus the meaning of mudrd may be summedup in three groups: that of seal. and being given the same magical or religious importance. Historically. J. 124 notifies that the accents were indicated by moving the hands upwards. p. "Moudra et hasta. p. may be defined as position hands serving as 'seal' or symbol to identify divinities or to 'seal'. "Mudra. I95I. it has an extended meaning which includes that of a specific seal mark. in a sense. Vol." Ibid. a ritual functions to ward off error and to seal. 719: "At Dha... muddika (from muddd) Auboyer. 53. officialdocuments. II 4. any 'sign' of the divinity. of a solemn contractwhich binds the worshiperto the world of the divinity and permitshim to become integratedinto this world. then. the word mudrd.8For in the same way as the royal seal symbolizesthe authorityand power of the king so the gesture symbolizes the divine authorityand magic power of the deity. I57b. downwards. however. Mudrd also conveys from muddd the idea of power as seen in the Pali muddika meaning authority. II.7This was a rhythmic device of grammarians. Vol.treaties. Actually a relationship between all three may be establishedby startingfrom the idea of matrixwhich may be comparedto a mould utilized for the impressionor stampingof objects. or money struck by means of a seal. Shang dynastythe seal was used for identificationpurposes on bronzes. or the Esoteric sense. the words of the ritual.tradition. in India. Przyluski. Yinin the sense of sign rapidlyexpandedits meaning to include the object or attributesthat the Buddha or the Bodhisattvaheld in his hands: the lotus.pacts. but also because the study of Japanese iconography is necessarilypertinent to all countries. p... 48 . however. In the Esoteric sense.

p. In very remote antiquity. 97). Moreover.For the needs of the cult subsequent religions had only to adopt the choreographicgesture to their rites: the idea of a system of gestures as well as the forms had existed for a long time. in Gandhara in Buddhistart. Marty. Glasenapp. bouddhistes. 99-I00.. Payot..for the and the Guhyasamajapresuppose the knowledge of Mafjusrikalpa. The fact is that at the time of their entranceonto the stage of iconography these gestures had undergone a long evolution. the question of knowing to what distantsources Buddhismhad gone for the idea of a system of gestures is difficult to resolve conclusively. if a single gesture plays several differentroles. it was inspiredby the written form of the initial letter of a mantra. for example. 474ff. for since most ancient times.the mudrd underwenta certainformalizationand were and with a both which do figure magical. Buddha Thus to representthe preachingof the Law. The representationof these signs in iconoof the rites tended to blur their former choreographiccharacgraphy through the intermediary onto a plane of secondaryimportance. Mandarano kenkyz. tr. without much reason. Some sources say.With the birth of Esoteric Buddhism.the spontaneous expression of the magic and the mysteryof primitive rites. Renou. It accompaniedin a ratherindefiniteway the appearanceof the Buddha image. cit. 570. lorsque l'on accomplit des actions sacrees (p. This is manifest in the stereotypedforms that the gestures took in the first Gandharan statuesof India. L'Inde classique. numerous gestures. H. Mysteres en pays indien la pratique de donner aux doigts une forme prescrite. S."I4 .i.the Mahavairocanasutra. for the preaching of the doctrine and even for the turning of the wheel of the Law.of the use of mudrd In the earlystages. e.the Gandharan II Toganoo. in the same way a specificepisode of the Buddhistlegend may be symbolizedby severalmudrd. mudrd cameinto existencetowardsthe beginning of the Christian era.I2 might be added. at all times and universally. for the expression of welcome. I. 570: "etatfruste.Vol. They became early integrated into a religious ritualism which. pp. para 1170."a3 As for pre-Buddhistorigins one may well look to the dance. imposed on them a hierarchy. op. Rules developed little by little especiallytowards the middle of the first millennium of the Christian era. 944. for the submission of the elephant. L.the mudrd of fearlessness. is used for the receptionof gifts or homages.. There is no doubt that from a very earlytime "the theory of mudramust have covered a wide range. For example." 14 3 49 . gestures seem to have evolved towards a religious usage.that the mudrd As an iconographicsymbol. a ritual classification which tended to conserve them over the centuries. by J. Professor Toganoo"I believes it derives from naturalgestures: calming by raising the hand.the Semui-in(abhayamudrd). the dance seems to have been. necessarilypassed in an undementaryhand gestures of divinities representediconographicallyare simply mudrd veloped state. However. no prescription of a definite nature seems to have established the precise value of symbolic gestures. I2 13 "A une haute antiquite remonte Fr. The differentroles of this gesture are rendered perfectlycleareitherby attributes.There aremanytheoriesconcerningthe origin of the idea of the mudrda and its use in Esoteric Buddhism. p.the wheel and the deer indicatethe preachingof the Lawor by the presenceof the gesture in a specificsetting. So it is true that "the elewhich ter. The dance gesture was essentially rhythmic.The few mudrd impregnated symbolism metaphysical in the Greco-Buddhistart of Northwest India are given a multiple use.. offering a gift by extending the hand. Renou. while depriving them of their former liberty. Paris.p.

I94. 245 (gift). the word mantrais connnected with Greek words like 'meimao' which express eager desire. 50 . 27I-275 (subjugation). Philosophical Library.the preaching of the Law. Mystires was alreadythe practiceto assign certain mudrdto certain the various Buddhaand Bodhisattva:these mudrd personagesprobablyin order to differentiate were laterto become the characteristic sign of such and such a Buddhaor Bodhisattva. 243 (predication). Probably from traditionalBuddhism. as identical. I95 I (?). basic study on tantra. The doctrine of the Three Mysteries "maintainsthat thought. For a general. yearning and intensity of purpose. Avalon Principles of Tantra. tices. 233. 220 (turning the wheel of the Law). consult A. concentration. calls the periode flottante At the beginning of the Christianera.or more still. meditativeimaginations. Buddhism. they are united in every phenomenon of the ordinaryworld. in Gandhara. 2Io.. worshiper identify The basic idea of Esoteric Buddhism. II. which means 'making love manifest in the concept of the Three Mysteries:thought. spells or short magic sentences.p. kriya. and so on. A tantrais composed of four parts:jnfdna. 1916.' The doctrine of the fundamentalunity of the three actions is a dogma essentialto Esotericism. word. I8 Charms. 255. E. but it assignedthe mudrd and the mantraI8 enable the the rites as well. become the specific predication gesture. fig. all practicesdestined Mahayanist to assurethe identificationof the faithfulwith the supremeunity. L'Art greco-bouddhique Leroux.which was to forms several variant mudrdother than the Temborin-in (dharmacakramudrd). Foucher. Their metaphysicalvalue was compounded of a primitive magic which reachedfar back into du Gandhdra."' '9 Glasenapp. etc. were endowed with an activity of a magical nature. generally terminating in meaningless Sanskrit syllables. construction of temples. In Tantrismthe mudrd passing a the of evocative of the which role in Buddhist had been its sign beyond simple stage legend. London. the Indian Asanigahad already developed a mystic doctrine founded at the same time on Yoga practices and on the principal ideas of Buddhism:in this doctrine. importanceequal to the word (shingon). A.dhiradngI7 and mudrd.. Tantrism is that type of Buddhism based on the tantra. 326: cf. making of images. p.for it alone permits one to consider as equivalent. D.possessed substantialmagicalpowers. Gestures became the bond by which the dharang himself to with the supremeunity. I6 251I (welcome). says: "To pronounce a mantrais a way of wooing a deity and. H."I9 for which they were checks. N. Conze. and act (mudra). But the Buddhist sculpture of Gandharadoes not seem to have come out of what Foucher of the origins of Buddhist iconography. Esotericismdid not limit itself to raising the a very importantrole in gesture to the level of a metaphysicalsymbol. and with the old High German word minn-ia. Y.) I7 Magical formulas or mystic forms of prayer (Soothill). guaranteesof transmission. the role of the mudra in Buddhist symbolism derives that it owes its full development. mystical formulas and exterior. carya'. charity.for in the great Oneness reign equalityand identity 'in the same way that the ocean has everywherethe same salty taste. word and activity are only differentexpressionsfor one and the same reality. 183. Is5Cf. the Segan-in.With the of became more exact. They represent three ways of approachingthe One and are three inseparableaspects of the universal Unity. p. etymologically.but it is to Tantrism16 toward the middle of the first millennium A. materialthings: such is the condition requiredfor all practical The mudrd. 198. thanks to this triple unity.The Semui-in limits itself to representingthe absence of fear. 2I2 1922.I5 Nevertheless. 1914 (Vol.figuredtantra.the Temborin-in. knowledge of the divinity.cult pracmethods of worship. Equivalent each to the other. for the plethora of divinities of the Esoteric world passage time.the idea on which rises the magico-symbolicsuperstructure.Luzac. Paris.some texts or portions of texts going back possibly to the VII or VIII centuries. Gandhara. usage required more and more explicit identification. (homages).

and by a slight modification or addition to the ordinary ritual charms could be wrought."22 of the first Buddhist statues of India had no preIt has alreadybeen noted that the mudrd cise. 745. in which they take their proper seat according to various dispositions..Vol. chapters I.Previous to the codificationof Esotericism. 22 Auboyer. little by little. expressesthe act of making a mudrd Here in symbolizes the body of the Buddha and is the concrete form of the hand-sign. p. III. the ancient symbols of aniconic representationsof the 20 Concerning the origins of Tantrism in primitive magic. Ramna.. and a relationshipbetween the characterkei as a mark. 368.mudrdand mandala the Vajrayana and hence a great mystic value is attached to the various manifestations of sound. op. according to these teachers. is used to designate the little notches cut in wood and which constitued a form of writing in Chineseantiquity. iconographic significance. para. and the mystic. in turn. of Dacca.. 368.The notches were a sort of sign.R. should produce by an action on the nervous system The complete series of ritual mudrd "obtained by certain effects both psychological and physiological. 5I .but exactly definedby concreteposes .in the may be establishedwith the above mentioned meaning of mudrd a mudrd(in) which. 745. cit. p.who. When these divinities appear before the mystic. London. while kan (to meditate on) symbolizes the abstractform of the thought. J. as it is used in the dance.It is a series of suggestions linked by the sequence of the gesture. To summarize:the mudrd.. modesty. cit.towards place particularly the beginning of the Christian era. In contemplating (kan)the assuresthe union of statue. but basically the statement is pertinent to iconography as well. For as earlyas the Vedic period. op.20 This magic stems from the stratum of occult beliefs of prehistoric India. The History of Bengal. in 21I Renou. p.pre-Buddhist times. L. carries on his worship with the help of the mudra which is now his only language" (Majumdar. It is the science of the hidden meaning. could be visualized in the forms of gods and goddesses. the thought of the worshiperis united with the divinity: the mudrd the two.. p. who is now they form a mandala Amaravati.Oxford Press. C. i6oa. Actually this passage refers to the mudr. which.The number of the early symbolic gestures in Gandhara. provoking in the mind of the spectatora subjectivereaction.the fluid formation . consult B. by reciting the ritual unites himself with the divinity. I. It is thus that the gesture attains its most abstract subtlety. in spite of condemnationby the high cult.and at Mathuraappearsto have been very small. the mudrd multiplied and a specific nomenclature as well as a more exact iconographic meaning were attributedto them. I943. II. BhattacharyyaAn Introduction to BuddhistEsotericism. This same idea of words and by forming the correct mudrd. of exterior appearances.of a traditional. 420). "Great importance is attached to the practice of mantra. The same kei contract is present in the expressionkei-shin. Similarly.2I The Tantricidea of guaranteesof transmissionand especiallythat of contractis reflectedin the Japaneseword kei-in:a contract(kei) sealed(in) by the worshiper...mentalimage which one must project on the sensibilityof the spectatorwho in turn will react accordingto a traditionalpattern. Accompanying the beginning of Esoteric Buddhism. Consult also Renou. both pre-Buddhist and Buddhist. para. cit. forms a one contracts or binds (musubu) expression in wo musubu the faithful. 1932. U. magic of an official sort existed. this evolution took towards the VII century. op. However. The expression inkansuru between the supreme divinity and pact (also musubu) and at the same time of looking at the image of a Buddha. joy. certaingroupings of movementsand of gestures are traditionallybased on the results of physiological phenomena: fear. IV. the making of a pact with a spirit.

0. then.23The mudrd statue. A. proscribed as it is in several passages of the Buddhist cannon (cf. to a lack of models or of observationon the part of the Japanesecraftsman. While the Indians laid great stress on iconographicaldetail. he was probably little preoccupiedwith exactnessin mattersof art. To a certainextent. In India.Van Oest. I935. by right left souls into an outstretched the hand the apparentlygathering by paradiseof the divinity. the lotus in aniconic representations modificationsin form and conThe spreadof Buddhismacross Asia imposed on the mudrd in sequently meaning. p. the throne. for the omission of the Buddha itself was p. "iconographictraditionsbecameindistinct and there were createdworks so far from the traditionalpose and so devoid of significantattributesthat they escapedevery attempt at a more precise identification.The explanationmay perhapsbe found in the fact that Japanbeing the end-point of the Buddhisttradition. The An-i-in is an excellent example of 52 . and it is not bold to suppose that this same left hand originally bore some such attributeas the vase which had become lost at the time of of the statueto the countries of SoutheastAsia and to Chinawhere this gesture the transference first appears. These modificationsmay be explainedin several fashions. 1950. fig. in India. the their passagebeyond Indianfrontiers.9"24 Thus in India.such as the wheel and the lotus. Working according to more or less simple indications. 4-10). "Early Buddhist Attitudes toward the Art of Painting. raised. Buddhism was a religion that the Japanesehad adopted and not conceived. symbolic gesture. In China. This mudrd is in of and hand the characterized the mzudrd fearlessness.received a Buddhismalreadymodified by influencesof non-Indian countries and personalities. The observance of iconographic details fixed by religious writings was of fundamentalimportance. on the other hand. the pillar.the Japanesewere busy assimilating 23 Until around the beginning of the Christianera the Buddha had been represented by symbols.. I32. it is possible that the artistwho continuedthe Indiantraditionmay have had only superficial knowledge of Indian iconography: he was doubtless even less aware of the texts which served as a basis for sculpture. June.On the other hand the Japanesedid not possess a fundamentallyphilosophical or metaphysicalturn of mind. Siren. 24 chinoise du Ve au XIVe siecle.some of these attributes specific were lost and there remainedonly a gesture devoid of sense. the Japanesefrequentlyoverlooked small points in favor of the generalartisticeffect. the liberty of interpretationwhich characterizes at considerable to Indian works led times to iconographicchange. p. CamLaw. in Japan. Soper. On one hand this compared may be laid to the disuse of iconographicaltraditions or simply. the former identifying role of symbols such as the wheel and falls to the iconographic. For the first few centuriesafter the introduction of the religion into Japan. Elementsof Buddhist Iconography. Chineseand Japaneseworks as Moreover. Press. such as the wheel of the Harvard U. Ioff.In non-Indian Asia. No Indian prototype of this gesture is to be found. The Japanese tradition was a composite tradition. Coomaraswamy." Art Bulletin.. I925. 148). Such is certainlythe case of the An-i-shoshu-in of Kannon and Amida. however. image mperative. Paris. palm front. bridge. were replacedby the figurationof the Buddhahimself were employed especially to clarify the symbolic sense of the in human form.for example. A.Buddha. certainstatues bore originally one or several At time of attributes. La Sculpture this phenomenon. the sculptorin creating a statue accomplisheda sacred work closely associated with religion. Semui-in. the tree (cf. This gesture was sometimesreproof which the prototype is to be found nowhere duced and endowed with the value of a mudrd.

The first and perhaps the most frequently figured gesture in Buddhiststatuesis that of the Semui-in (abhayamudra). It would appearhere that the traditionof the gesture has suffered 25 26 Ibid. intrepidity. The dominating idea of gift tends probably to unite these gestures: gan (vow of eharity) and mu-i (intrepidity)noting only the distinction of kind and of aim of the gift.ratherthan developing it. Certain texts tend to relate these mudrd by them a that The the of common of bestows giving bestowing."n25 It may prove worthwhile at this point to proceed to an examinationof three of the more important gestures in Buddhist sculpture. or lowered with the fingers stretcheddownwards. from the higher level of the Buddha to the lower level of Sentient Beings. p. meaningdiffers beings). Segan-in meaning: gift charity from that the Buddha to the Semui-in The essential of e. which is the position of the left hand of the statue in figure I: the Segan-inis the mudra of charity. Before the mass of documents and of both confused and contradictorytraditions it has seemed necessaryto attempt to put some order to the informationavailable. Kramrisch S.. Siren affirms:In every statue "the gesture and the attitudes are precisely the essential symbolic element: therefore it is a question in general of formulas more definite than general types or than attributes. Indian Sculpture. even when the title of Semui-in (that is.. 41 and fig. mudrd of fearlessness)is attributedto the lowered hand. 2). That is why it is indispensable to know the postures and the gestures that are most often met with in Buddhist imagery in order to understandthe meaning of the statues.In fact. But it gradually lowered until around the V century when it seems to have become definitelyfixed at somewhat above hip level. p. 4).However. In Japan the designation Semui-in may apply either to the hand raised with the fingers stretched upwards. Indeed. I6I.Such seems to be the usefulness of this study. these latter are in many for us to glean from them indicationsof the cases much too undeterminedor undifferentiated name and the role of a Buddha or of a Bodhisattva: only the gesture and the pose render the personage intelligible as the symbol of a religious or metaphysicalidea. 53 . 59. i).. Certain mudrd like the Segan-in are made without distinction by either one or the other hand.of giving. and from the II century in India across CentralAsia and Chinathis gesture is iconographicallyconstant. as M. Press. These two mudra of a in by reason similarity meaning have tended to blend. The Northern Wei Buddhist figure now in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum of New York shows a not uncommon Chinese version of this gesture (fig. the symbolism is none the less that of Segan-in (mudrd of charity). London. (i. Sutratexts support this statement. in that the upwardstretchedfingersof the Semui-inindicatethe act of offeringwhile the Segan-in downward stretchedfingersindicatethe act of conferringfrom above to below.26 This is apparentin such statues as the IV century Saltanganjtype of fig. I933. Oxford U. fig. 3. gesture of fearlessness:it is the in in the hand raised as seen X Shaka of the Seiryo-ji (fig. The century right appeasement Semui-in is often accompaniedby the Segan-in (varamudr6). The Semui-in on the contrary is uniquely a mudraof the right hand. Thus it is naturalthat the iconographic variantsof differentinspiration are reflectedin the art of this country and that the details of the iconographicaltraditionof India were modified. Since the beginnings of Buddhisticonography in Gandharathe exact position of the hand seems to have changed: on the first statues of India it is at shoulder level as can be seen in the second century Mathuratype (fig. 133.

2 Fig. 4 Fig.MH MH Fig. i Fig. 5 Fig. 3 1H Ml MH Fig. 6 .

ii MH Mt' Fig. 7 MH Fig. io Fig.Fig. 8 MH Fig. I3 . 9 Fig. I2 Fig.

c. Traditionallythe position of the hand figuring the Semui-inis said to derive from a legend concerning the Buddha'sjealous cousin. wishing to hurt the Buddha.About to be trampled." 30 To the Trayastrimsasgods. there is more in this gesture than non-fear. Buddhist benevolence triumphs over evil by inner strength and illustrates the In the second version. 34. Kyoto of the VII century (fig.of courage and of audacity.. . Such a gift expresses 27 Consult A. Sakyamuniraised his right hand.But as the legend points out.indicatedas being Asvaghosa.29On a positive plane. "constitutesa ratherlate interpolation:these are decadentmethods and we cannot see that this popular expediant was ever present even in the most mediocre works of Gandhara.. 34) in fig.27 fingersissued five lions who attackedthe elephantand thus saved the life of the Buddha.. that tranquilizes the mind. an exterior strength. will protect the believer mzudrd. 8i. who. against the assults of evil. Here is an exampleof the blurringof the iconographic tradition. "This intervention of the lions. 288-289. O. the author. asksthe following a of the stupa. why do they representthe Buddha with the right hand raised? And the robber of the stuipaanswers his own question: It is so that those who are afraid. if it is reallythe Segan-in.a negative expression: this mudrdexpresses the giving of fearlessness that calms. Although the symbolism of the Semui-inmay generallybe summed its use and its meaning were still unestablishedin up in the expression"giving of fearlessness. op." says Foucher. (for this is the gesture) which gives confidanceto those who are intimidated or frightened.gesture of fearlessness. 31 Foucher."32 Using the idea of fearlessnessas a point of departurethe symbolism of this gesture becomes by extension that of intrepidity:it is the gift of living without fear. La Vie du Bouddha. pp. 327-328. like the rest of the mudra. 32 Ibid. do the artisans of this world. calls this gesture "seaudeI'assurance. pp. 485-486. may be freed of fear. D.had not yet been establishedand hierarchized. A. the fingers close together. 1949. possessing wonders violator question: "Why. right and left hands. caused him to be attackedby a drunken elephant. Pp." the greaterpart of Gandharanworks where this same gesture representsnot only the absence of fear but also the predicationof the Buddha.when they see his image. gift made by the Buddhato sentientbeings.. Foucher. Foucher is quoted from Hackin. . 28 This passage by A. the recourseto the force of the lions."28 In ritualceremoniesthe officiatingpriest makesthe Semui-inin orderto give sentientbeings fearlessness.30 "Only here the Buddha is teaching after the fashion of a Buddhist image which goes back to a time when the gesture of Teaching. Paris. is of a less spiritualnature. Payot."3I In a passageof the S4trdlaink6ra. L'Artgreco-bouddhique du Gandhdra. Devadatta.In the first version.a certainmodification.. The gesture not only stopped the elephant in his tracks but Accompletely subduedhim.unorthodoxly. It may be noted that the position of the Semui-in seems to be just about half-way between the hip and the shoulder. is usually renderedwith characteristic stylized and linearprecision as may be seen in the Northern Wei ShakaTrinity (A.Particularly the left hand in Segan-inis renderedmost indistinctly and. Siren. But the typical Nothern Wei rendition of the Semui-in and the Segan-in. 6). wonderful talent and with holy intent. p. 5. 56 ." 1923. this is the gesture of intrepidity. the to a later variant of this same Buddha raise and from his his hand right cording legend. concept of "not hurting" (abhimsa).This which was able to protect the Buddha against the elephant. J. p. "Guide-catalogue 29 du Musee Guimet. This is why the gesture is called Semui-in. This is approximatelythe sameposition of the JapaneseShakaof the Jingoji.

35 The five Knowledges are: I Knowledge of the nature of the dharmadhdtu (dharmadhdtu-prakrti-jnina). there exists at the same time the feeling of fear because no earthlyhappinessis perfect. calumny. Paris.. Back in Japan in 806. Such a geneology must not be acceptedwithout reserve. the knowledge of Vairocanaas the supremedivinity. men. Vol. mudrd of perfect Knowledge(jindna) is purely Esoteric."33 While the Semui-in may be considered as being a gesture utilized by both Exoteric and Esoteric Buddhism. Leroux. 5 Act perfecting knowledge (krfydnusthdna-jndna).the benevolence of the Buddha but. the moon. not only in man but in all that has existence.diamond fist.the Temborin-in. It is the mudrd figured by the statue of Dainichi (Vairocana)of the Onjo-ji or. pain: it is 'the world of the Buddha free from fear'. the spiritualworld. 42. 36 Hence this mudrd is also called Nometsumumyokokuan-in or the mudrdwhich is capable of suppressing darkness and (spiritual) shadows. the sun. Kukai founded the Shingon sect: in 8I6 he established its center on the summit of Mt. Si do in dtou. Thus by virtue of believing in and of following the Law. 3 Knowledge of the fundamental oneness of all things (samatd-jndna). 8). It is the state that is called 'the world filled with fear and dread. a disciple of Amoghavajra.'Despite the joys and the pleasuresthat one experiencesand which constitute 'agreablefeelings'. for the however. Since the Chi Ken-in is fundamentally an Esoteric gestureit does not appearin Japanbefore the introduction of mikkyo' aroundthe beginning of the IX century. the faithful may arrive at a state which transcendsjoy. it inspires the repose of the spirit and its liberation from the worries and troubles of this world. 7). 8. The III centuryGandharan the particularvariant that some authorities would term the original gesture from which the later bodasrnzmudrd (?) derived (fig. 2 Mirror knowledge which reflects all knowable (ddarsana-jnana). I899. the Chi Ken-in. which symbolizes the World of the Diamond. pleasure. animalsof all kinds.the adamantine. In Sanskritthis gesture may be designatedbodhasrtmudrd (?). Koya. Birds. H. what is more.35 The Chi Ken-in is the mudrd of Dainichi in the kongokai.34 Certainauthoritiesaffirm that the Chi Ken-in may have found its origin in the predication mudrd. as it is commonly called. with which perfect Knowledge is intimatelyassociated.for the ddiBuddha produced the d ni-Buddha by means of the actty of the five Knowledges (go chi). as early as Gandharathere existed several variations of the Temborin-in which are statue of Shaka(?) shows sculpturallyvery close to the Chi Ken-in.But it is a militantKnowledge as well. Annales du Musee Guimet. p. Bibliotheque d'etudes. According to Tantricsymbolismthe ChiKen-in emphasizesnot the propagationof the Law on the example of the Temborin-in but the aspect of perfect Knowledge. By reducing this gesture to its constituent elements one finds that it is in fact composed of two fists (ken-in) called kenrokongoken(-in). Indeed. 33 34 57 . Kobo Daishi or Kfukaiat the beginning of the IX century left Japan in order to study the Esoteric doctrine under the Chinese master Hui-kuo. the worlds fear continually of being suppressedby each other or of colliding and are not for an instant without fear. 4 Knowledge of perspicacity which understands all details without confounding (pratyaveksana-jnana). "Fearis innate. Thus two very differentroles of this deity are underlinedby the figuration of the Temborin-inand the Chi Ken-in: the first gesture is attributedto Vairocana as dbydni-Buddha and the second is attributed to Vairocana as ddi-Buddha. the Diamond World. Miidera. The statue is dated II75 (fig. for it representsthe power to destroy the passions of the ordinary world:36it is also the intellectualpower which enables all sentient beings to achieve Buddha Toki. similarityof form is in no way supported by a similarityof symbolic meaning. Knowledge of what to do to accelerate the salvation of all beings.

" 4' Getty. For the kongCkai the Knowledge of Dainichi (hokaitaishochi. W.45a clearly sexual character. products of the Knowledge of the adi-Buddha. op. S.which plays the role of the sixth finger. the index. air. subject object opposition dhstuprakrtijndna). and the thumb. cit. water. dharmaceases in the and of the absolute between which (Glasenapp)."represents There exists therefore for the sixth elementis a part of his essence. took place at a period when Tantrism was already completely formed" (Renou. p.. A.. To these five is added a sixth element.-kai(the matrix world) and the kong8kai Diamond 42 the left the so-called the index of which are here connectedby hand. p.38 According to Esoteric symbolism. L. the kongokai joins the right hand whose five fingers representthe taizokaior materialworld. Oxford. 360 a. p."4o symbol of the ddi-Buddha. raisedindex which According to Getty. para 85I). London. p. this gesture takes on. 40 Clarendon Press. asiatique intellectuel (chi). Note also the problematicalpresence of a sakti at Mohenjodaro (Renou. Oda. (p. Renou. the ears. Tokyo. a theory of sexual union in the form of a flame which penetrates the body of the woman. or spiritualworld is representedby the left. T. (comp. Libraire de in Mythologie France. 58 . L.which conducts souls to enlightenment. 38 Cf. Taisho shoten. fire. A. are still untouched. an irruption of which the first documents. that is symbolized by the Dainichi. the five dhydni-Buddha." 42 The index represents the first of the gochinyorai. Consideredin Japan on a metaphysicalplane as symbolic of the Knowledge of Dainichi or of the five Elements.the mudrd lines 22ff. 406. The index of the left hand. especially in Tibet with the sakti cult. The two hands symbolize the two the designation "gesture of the six Elements" (rokudai-in)..).. the first Knowledge mudrd. p. translates the phrase richi: "the noumenal in essence and in knowledge." 44 Cf. cit. Elisseeff. finger (kong5shi) which constitutes at once the connection between the hands and the way between the worlds... L.. and Hodous. I594-b. op. the unity of the cosmic soul and the individual soul. produce the sixfold bodily and mental happiness.on the Lotus sutra(HokkegishoXII) one by which.. and of the great and marvelous Knowledge of Vairocana.Trubner.. manas the flame (mind).. at least in the domain of Buddhism. The five fingers of the right hand representthe Five Elements which compose man: the little finger. when united. 43 Soothill. 30. the tongue and the body as the "roots" of Knowledge.. Paris. The fingers symbolize also the gokon(pancendriii). I928. the ring finger. 1914.entersinto possession of the Knowledge It is this knowledge peculiarto kongokai of the Law of all Buddha.For Buddhism. earth. void. the nose. The union of the sexes is forbidden because it attaches the participantsto life by nourishing the 37 Hence the name Bodaiindodaiichichi-in. cit.). 39 The eyes. 424). in Japanesethe chi-hokkai. 425).By makingthis gesturethe Buddha-or is also calledthe mudrd the worshiperwho identifieshimselfwith the Buddha. of perfectKnowledge. Daichi-in. A Dictionaryof Chinese Buddhist Terms. op.9 that is to say.4 this gesture As a specific symbol of the Knowledge of the BuddhaDainichi of the kongokai. p.. Oda Tokuno Bukkyo Daijiten (i Vol. The two hands together symbolize the unity of materialand spiritual. knowledge is expressed by the Chi Ken-in. 426. knowledge of the substantialnature of the Law (dharma)44 Chi Ken-in. BukkyoDaijiten (I Vol. accordingto the Commentary Knowledge37 is enabled to attain nirvdna. the five organs of the senses treated as the roots (kon)of perfect Knowledge. notes: "l'index de la main gauche figure 'element illustree. op."And.4I (the diamond world) inseparableworlds of the tai^. p. 30: "The six fingers represent the Six Elements which. adds: "There is Japaneserichibuni. II9o-a. the procreatingact is not in itself a reprehensibleone. 45 "It is probable that the irruption of s'akta ideas in Tantrism. "Mythologie du Japon" Getty.). the unity of perfectKnowledge and the noumenal. the middle finger. cit. The Godsof NorthernBuddhism. I937. L. 1916.. the index of the left hand (world of sentient beings) is surrounded and protected by the fingers of the right hand (world of the Buddha). p. Biroshananyoraidaimyochi-in.

creates. symbolizes principle. From the earliest statues of Gandharathis mudrdis portrayed in the sculpture of all countries whose art deas the Semui-in. The sakti is metaphysically.So it is that the Chi Ken-in symbolizes both the abstract side of Mahayanistinspirationand the concrete side of the life of this world. 8. PerfectWisdom (prajna). not far from Borobodur as well as in that of the Horyu-ji Amida (fig. I3). without passion.the most general and the most well-known is the one where the masculine divinity representsCompassion (karunza) andthe femininedivinity.passions and desireswhich Buddhismtries ceaselesslyto annihilate. More or less similarvariants are to be seen in almost any Buddhist country of the Far East. Glasenapp. The most orthodox form may be consideredto be that of the famousShakaof Sarnathdating from aroundthe VI century(fig. Thus is manifestedthe theory of sexual union in the form of a column of flame which penetratesthe body of the woman. p.. a bronze repousse of the Horyu-ji (fig.. Unlike such mudrd constructionis far from constant. 59 .and the most intimate embracealone can give an adequate symbol . feminine principlerepresentedby the right hand. the One. its veloped under the influence of Buddhism. H. This form often seen in painting is less frequently representedin sculpture even though the Esoteric sects use it as one of the orthodox types of Temborin-in. i ) in Japan.gnosis. the physical plane becomes involved in the metaphysicalplane and thus permits women to take a place in the religious pantheonin order to representdivinely the passions Now in the Chi Ken-in. 91. Paris. This is a common cast of the Temborinin Gandhara. the active and altruisticforce by which He who knows and who sees sacrificeshimself and expends himself for Him who does not know and does not see. Temborin-in. It is the exalted expression of creation on the human plane and on the divine plane. Maraini.46 himself as procreator. the left hand. io). in Sanskrit dharmacakramudrd and in Japanese. But this vision is nothing if it cannot unite most closely .with Compassion. fulminatoryvision of the truth which leads to liberation. reflectsthe general outline 46 47 Cf. Gnosis signifies intuitive. The unestablishediconography characteristicof Gandharais apparentin the III century Shakareferredto in fig. 12 of the III century Shakain the possession of the Tokyo National Museum.unifying with the the masculine Vairocana beings. Mysfires bouddhistes. The VIII century Amida Trinity. Yet the Sarnathtype may be considered to be the prototype of such gestures as those seen in the VIII century Shaka (?) of Chandimendut(fig. F.. although there is also the form shown in fig. sentient but of course on a high and spiritualized plane.But in the unitary concept of Esotericism. for the supreme divinity himself accomplishesit. the expression of an act fundamentallypure.the line of force according to which the Absolute. "It is an idea typical of Tantrismthat the notion of the energy of a god emanating from that god may become something objective and may even finish by incarnating itself in a feminine body. however. is differentiated. This is what the eyes of the initiate readin the amorous embrace which he has before him on the altar. Tibet secret.."47 called turning the wheel The third and last gesture proposed for considerationis the mudrd of the Law. Perhaps.p. The sexual act is given metaphysicalinterpretations. 37.. Arthaud. 9).acts. I952..

bibliography Indian works concerning the revolution of the year. c. . I. Visnu. 882. p." writes Mr. with one or two correlatedwheels. consult . Paris. i. 89. the wheel appearsin a double form. the One-legged Goat. p.the Esoteric meaning of this mudrd is based on the symbolism of the wlheel. 2. also p. 1932. the "revolution of the year: its turning constitutes then the primordialact of creation. 2 and 3. e. the wheel of the law. S. 1927. 25.. I. possessor of the cakravala terms .. p. pp. the one who has. but one meets there the notion of a supreme force. op. consult Coomaraswamy. i. 0. I5. sun.TheBuddha is represented there as the 'sempiternal sun'. "The wheel. fig. 4. Cakra-vartin:lit.. Consult ibid. so that the idea of the universal king may hardly be considered as an innovation of Buddhism. of Chinese the turning of the wheel of the Law was probably connected with the Vedic sun worshipping ceremonies in which a chariot wheel was fastened to a post and turned towards the right. in his heavenly car. Geuthner.he who is limited only by the extreme limit of the world. p.Rg Veda. 28. 53. 200 A. I03.the two circles formed by the junction of the thumb and the index recallthe aspect of the wheel .56 . 392. Because of a possible identificationwith the sun. Dictionnaire Maisonneuve. 52 Combas.op. op. Vol. By virtue not only of its designation. ca. 55 56 57 58 AitareyaBrdchamana. 29. VIII. Peiping. that is to say.A. notwithstandingthe variantsin the figures mentioned above.sIwho carries this attribute. pp. E. Dumont. A. who. v. 54 Ibid. L. I9I7. V. Leroux. pagation of which is called Temborin. 1888." 6o . p. For the etymology of cakravartin." in Melanges chinois et bouddhiques. turning the wheel of the Law. Renou. P1. e. For the myth of the cakravartin. Handbook of Chinese ford. s."s2"In the sense that time is the sun. consult J.. the king who puts in movement In the pre-Buddhistperiod. P." Cf.. V. 672b. but also becauseof its shape. fig. Nitti. "The Indic God Aja Ekapad. 3 ff.p. 53 Coomaraswamy. underlines his clearly solar character:he dispells doubt and error as the sun dispells the morning clouds. the two wheels of the chariot of the Sun at the same time bound together and kept apartfrom each other by the same . 25 f. writes: "and Symbolism.. virocana). p. IV.: "gifted with. cit. "who illumines. Outlines Customs College Press. E. p. A. Hongkong. 9. sun god. (p. who possesses the rotation of the wheel.I.49The pre-Buddhistwheel had very probablywith the Indo-Europeanstaken on a role emblematicof the sun and of fire. D. cit. for the chariot of the Sun conceived as a three wheeled carriage (tricakra)." J. Williams. sanscrit-fran?ais. lit. originally an arm of the sovereign with which he subjects the whole world." Rocznik Orjentalistgczny. 326-334. 48 51 Vairocana: from virocana. L. "Evolution du stupa en other E.. who lightens. p. G. Paris. turning the wheel of the law" (Eitel.. cit. op..soThus in Buddhism Vairocana. A. revolution of the of the creation the the Buddha For a of Law. 50 Si doin dzou.A.. N. Senart Essai sur la legende du Bouddha. cit. Coomaraswamy. the wheel comes to designate the course of the sun. Law."53 of this attributein Buddhismis maniThe solar character fest as earlyas Barhut andAmaravati. m. moon (Stchoupac." The term cakravartin does not exist in the Veda. the proCrawBuddhism.i. i65-I85. Elementsof BuddhistIconography. 193I. P1. It is the emblemof the world seen from two differentbut inseparable points55 The sun illuminates sky and Esotericism. the cakravartin57 "Dharmatchakra.54 As a solar emblem. H.. year. I Io: wheel = sun. C.. Przyluski "La ville du cakravartin. 47b). earth: in like manner the two wheels touch one the sky and the other the earth: the axle is identifiedwith the cosmic axis which at once separatesand connects these two points.."a circle is its center: the Wheel representsthe Sun but more exactly the movement of the Sun. The emblem of Buddhism as a system of cycles of transmigration. 49 Cf. this kind may be consideredas being one of the more common forms in Japan. Glasenapp. p.. possesses it completely.that is to say.. in other terms. Shingon axle.lit. Foucher. 2 cited by Coomaraswamy. 28). 30) as being the first of the precious things (ratna) of the universal monarch. and X.of the Sarnath Temborin-in and. the indivisibility of the taizokai and the kongokai. following the path of the Universal Law which directed the sun in its orbit... is mentioned in the ancient Dighanikaya(14. 4 (cited in Coomaraswamy.. I I I). Paris.48 This symbolic attribute is present in early Buddhist art. pp. Beginnings of BuddhistArt.

67 The wheel with 64 spokes at Amaravati (Coomaraswamy. A. C. Demieville Hdboegirin. Foucaut. III. law. Note the figure S. 33." OrientalArt. 392. op." Maison franco-japonaise. L. the wheel appearssomewhere on his body. Histoire du Bouddha Sakya-Mouni.uses the wheel as a symbol or as a particulararm. was figured in the place of the Buddha. "la rouequi 'vient'. illustrates the action of the Buddhist doctrine which crushes all illusion and all superstition. line 22. je le connais comme etant 1'Etre que l'on doit connaitre. 432: at Lahore.symbolizes.s8Legend affirms that at his The cakravartin investiturea golden wheel fell from the sky. Consult also Ph-Ed. identifiablewith the universal sovereign. Paris.: "we do not see particularly that the Master had yet adopted the gesture which would later become the characteristicmudra of his predication. L'Art greco-bouddhique du Gandhdra. J. Him I deem the person to be known. (Yakushiji) on this same page. He who moves the firm. celui-la. J. as it were spokes on the nave of the wheel. I. 63 64 65 66 p..... and P. p. his Thus the wheel presents a double significance:that of destruction by disseminating and that of lighting . See the Wheel of Life in J. for the Buddhaas the all-powerful . 2 and 3). 475 a and 475b (Sanci and Amaravati)." Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.. the wheel stamps the front of the socle. the "person" is called cakkavatti. fig. by taking over a part of the role of the attribute of aniconic representations. 134. Bosquet (tr. p. p. Coomaraswamy. I868.. A close relationship is establishedbetween the Buddhaand the universalsovereign..65 Moreover the wheel shows an affinitywith the lotus. Takakusu.cakravartin. the rays of which constitutethe eight67spokes of the Buddhistwheel. T. The "indestructiblewheel of the Cosmos.. in iconographical representations."62 According to legend the historic Buddhais supposed to have transmittedthe original design of the wheel to his disciples by sketching it with grains of rice gatheredwhile he was teaching in a ricefield. pp. cit. op.Icono. Foucher. Vol.. However that may be. Cf.that is.. omnipresent. this attribute earlywitnessed "a decorativecontaminationwith the red lotus (padma)." Auboyer. he who by definition is stable. "There where it keeps itself is the unshakeableplace in which should reside such a sovereign.. cit. A. Przyluski "La Roue de la vie a Ajanta. telles les rayons dans le moyeu du char.63 This wheel was representedin the form of a PrincipialWheel and supportedby a In the first centuriesof the Christianera. 6i . however. I56b.. all error. like the wheel which breaks everything over which it passes. Levi. the wheel. no. p. The wheel with I000 spokes appears on the famous engraved stone at Pataliputrawhich Hsuan Tsang (Ttt. 1948."60 wheel. P.. p. 6. J. fig. I25 9-a. who performsthe creativeact can be no one but a monarchruling over the entire world. I5-I6. cakravartin the world crushes all evil. Tokyo.. such are its qualities as the arm of the universal king. See Foucher.59 is. "Moudra et hasta. I95I.66Representedfirst of all in the form of a solar disk.. Paris. I34. 3I9. transCoomaraswamy. Bukky6Daijiten. "Buddhist Pictorial Wheel. conquersthe earthfor Buddhism who as dbarmacakravartin.64 the Buddhain humanform. Oda. I931.Maisonneuve. Prasna Upanisad. op. wheel of creation.both ideas derive from pre-Buddhistnotions.A. A. all enemies of the law.. p. 62 Ele. at the time of the representationof universalterrain. op.and the wheel as it passes through monarchis he who turns the wheel .this same episode of the Buddha legend. p.. VI. A.the wheel ." JournalAsiatique."6I Wheel of protection. p. cit.).. i88a. says the Prasna Upanisad:"He on whom the (sixteen parts) stand fast. of Bud.. It serves to indicatethe sermonin the Deer Park at Benares. also Waddell. I4-I5. 27.Thorin.. anteriorto the representationof the historical Buddha in human form.. I892.The dharmacakramudrd. cit." In Pali texts and later Sanskrit texts.linked to the center of the universe whence he reigns. 2087) describes.the cosmological value 59 60 61 Williams. Moreover. inferiorto the Buddha he who turns the wheel of the Law. lates: "Celui en qui les seize parties sont fixees.

having triumphed and begins his firstpredicationin the Deer over the attacksof Mara. 71 72 P1. cit. fig. of course. etc. It symbolizesthe destrucgesture is also calledthe Seppo-in.recalls in Esoteric symbolism the principialunity of the taizTokai The non-Tantricsymbolism. the purity of the Law. In India the wheel placed atop a piller. J. 69 Consult Coomaraswamy. may take the place for the worshipper "of all preaching. J. and on the "incessantrepetition of the fundamental. p.70 are in a certainsense the 'secret pivot of the world' aroundwhich the various constitutive elements are disposed in symmetricfashion. 62 . the continual movement of the Law. cit. Buddhism.. juxtaposed.op. doctrineswhich reachall sentientbeings and which without limit. word. Yin-Yang. i. I67 (s. the eightfold way.. cit. which figures a lotus for an axle center from which radiateeight rimbo69 Wheel and lotus spokes.symbolizesthe divine birth. Auboyer. cakra) Getty. it is at once static in its figurationand forms a part of the triple "mystery":thought. the symbol is not an expressionapartfrom the mystic feeling. the The that in middle of the calyx is found a Nepalese Gods Northern v. and in Nepal. It is divided into eight petals indicating the eight cardinal points. the of the Shingon sect. I believe. as in any religious system. by the fact that it constitutes in effect the immobilizationand the fixation of the rite: it contains all the power of the rite. 157 a. But one may go further. p.for no predicationis more perfector more efficacionsthanthat of the law.. In this sense. VI.demon of evil. of p. In Tantrism."68 Thus the lotus in full bloom. In Japan. The mudrd 68 Auboyer. op. 25.7I Buddhismutilized first of all the symbol of the wheel and then the Temb6rin-inin order to recallthe specificmoment of the Buddhistlegend when the historicalBuddha. that takes on the form of a mystic instrumentwhich serves to seal a pact between the supreme divinity and the believer. Vol. Thus the gesture becomes the expression of the rite. The Temb6rin-in. is representedindeed by a lotus calyx containing the procreativeseeds of the flower. But. exteriorto it: the symbol is the mystic feeling itself."72 Before terminatingthis very cursive expose.of which is enriched by a profound philosophic sense. The mudrd back to far distant sources lost in the earliestperiods of primitive India. accompaniedby the right ritual word. V.. 70 Cf.the scene was figuredby means of a piller In aniconic representations surmounted by a wheel and flankedby two affronteddeer. writes A. to make a brief seems to go summaryof the place of the symbolic gesture in Esoteric Buddhism. The Temborin-inin taking over the symbolismof the wheel affirmsthe omnipotence and the sovereignty of the Buddha as well as his identificationwith a universal monarch. In iconographicalrepresentations this same wheel persistsbut figures now either designed on the body of the Buddhaor held in his hands. the of the exposition of the Law. indicatesthe teaching of the Buddha. which is constantlybeing transmittedto all beings.moral doctrines of Buddhism.whose form representstwo wheels of the Law and the kong6kai. also bearinga clearlysolar character. op.. XVIII. exist universally. the wheel of Vairocana cakrastambha. of the historicalBuddha. PI. the sudarsanacakra(Musee Guimet) Revue desarts asiatiques. fig. i56b. and dynamic in its meaning.It is a symbol which places emphasison the movement of the wheel. attainsbodhi Park at Benares. I928. it would be fitting.nmudrd tion of human evils as well as the constantprogression of Buddhist doctrines. may well speak in this instance for the fusion of these two symbols.It is the moment when the Buddha"puts in movementthe wheel of the Law". the making of this mudrd. like the cosmic wheel."In the JapaneseEsoteric sects. the recallsthe open lotus at the top of its stem..

action.are henceforth the concrete manifestationof concepts related to the energies existing in the order of things. magic formulas are powerless without the gesture. Thus the primitive hand movement of the exorcist assumes great importance by assuringthe exact transmissionof the word. of a most important contract. It is the sign of a pact. The object of the Esoteric system is the psychic union of the believer with the universal Spirit. This threefold unity is inherent in every thing. 63 .the gesture . Such a unitary concept leads to a close interdependancethrough which artistic forms become the image of the doctrine: the statue . for it is the one that binds the worshipperto the world of the divinity and integrates him into that world. Yet to arrive at this union.