In addition to being symbolic, mudras
are used in yoga and meditation to control the flow of energy in the
body and unblock chakras. Although hand mudras are the most common in
yoga, there are also head, postural, lock and perineal mudras.
In vitarka mudra, the circle formed by
the index finger and thumb symbolizes the flow of information and
energy. This mudra is most often associated with the Buddha,
representing the transmission of his wisdom and used when explaining
his teachings. It is a common hand gesture used in Buddha statuary,
particularly those of ancient Thailand.
There are variations of this mudra.
Historically, only the right hand displayed the mudra, but today it
is often practiced with both hands. Sometimes the thumb and middle
finger touch, symbolizing compassion, or the thumb and ring finger
touch, meaning good fortune. In another version of vitarka mudra, the
left hand rests palm up in the lap while the right hand is raised to
shoulder level with the thumb and index finger touching.