The following four mudras are traditional hand mudras. There are many other hand mudras, hundreds in fact, three of which we have already described: jnana, chin and chinmaya mudras1. We don't intend to go into very much detail about these mudras for it is far better that you practise them yourself.
The mudras that we have given here are particularly useful, for they can be done in your daily meditational program with little extra effort and no extra expenditure of time. They are ideally suited for integration with meditative techniques, for they intensify the power and the benefits that you will obtain.
The word shankha means 'shell' or 'conch', the type that one can so easily find on a quiet beach. Therefore, the English translation of this mudra is 'conch mudra'.
The conch is an integral part of religion, for many of the deities, such as Vishnu, Lakshmi and Shiva are shown blowing or holding this symbolic object. Even in the opening chapter of the Bhagavad Gita Krishna and Arjuna blow their conches: "Then, Madhava (Krishna) and the son of Pandu (Arjuna) who were seated in their magnificent chariot, yoked with fine white horses, blew their divine conches." (1:14)
In ancient European tradition also, the conch is often utilized. For example, the tritons used the conch as a trumpet.
The most obvious thing that this conch, or rather its sound represents, is the cosmic, inner sound of each and every individual. This is the sound that links the individual with highest consciousness, like a puppet on a string. This is called nada, or shabda, in Sanskrit. This is logos in some of the western traditions. When the conch is blown it makes a penetrating sound like a long Aum. This is the reason it is sounded during religious ceremonies.
While sitting for meditational practice the most comfortable method of holding this mudra is to position the hands as shown, then rest them on your lap.
Bhairava is one of the forms of Shiva, said to be fearsome and formidable. The consort of Shiva in this case is called Bhairavi (Shakti)... that is, the power that manifests this particular aspect of existence.
For the purpose of meditative practice, this is a particularly comfortable mudra. What is easier than placing the hands one on top of the other in the lap, while sitting in a medita-tional asana? It is a mudra that people do almost automatically.
The word shoonya means 'voidness' or 'emptiness'. It is used very much by Buddhists to describe the indescribable state of nirvana (supreme enlightenment). In this context it does not mean, as so many people think and
write, a state of nothingness; it means exactly the opposite: a state of totality, of oneness, devoid of ego, devoid of even the slightest turmoil, craving or dissatisfaction.
This is a mudra that is widely practised in tantric circles. The word maha means 'great' or perhaps even better in this context 'supreme'. The word yoni means 'womb', 'source' or 'origin'. Therefore, this mudra can be called the 'supreme source mudra'.
This is such an important mudra for it symbolizes the unity between the individual and consciousness. It symbolizes the return of the individual to his source, his origin. It is not only a symbol, for this mudra is used to help invoke this realization and experience. It is such a simple looking practice, but it possesses vast power of invocation, if it is done under the correct circumstances.
To perform this mudra you will need to wrap and bend your fingers in a weird combination of directions. Having secured the mudra as shown in the two figures you can either hold the hands in front of the chest or rest them on Notes your lap. The choice is yours. 1 Book I, Lesson 8, Topic 3
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