Jnana Mudra – The Gesture of Wisdom
Jnana Mudra or Gyan Mudra is the most common yogic mudra used in meditation. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Jnana’ means knowledge or wisdom and ‘mudra’ means sign or gesture. It literally means the psychic gesture of Knowledge or wisdom.
How to do Jnana Mudra?
- Jnana mudra is used as a meditative gesture. Hence sit in any comfortable meditation asana like padmasana, sukhasana, swastikasana or siddhasana.
- Fold the index finger and let it touch the base of the thumb. The forefinger forms a circle, but the thumb points straight out.
- Straighten the other three fingers gently.
- Place your hands on the knees with palm downwards.
- The three fingers should point forward and downwards.
- Adjust your position of the hands and relax the shoulders.
- Keep the spine straight and practice your meditation technique.
- Continue in this position for the full duration of your meditation.
Variation of Jnana Mudra
An equally common practice is to keep the tip of the forefinger touching the tip of the thumb. Here the thumb and the forefinger form a complete circle.
Symbolism of Jnana Mudra
The thumb represents the Supreme Reality called Brahman. The forefinger represents the individual soul or the Jiva or our inner reality. The two fingers touching each other signify the oneness of Brahman and Jiva. In other words the Individual self is not different from the Supreme reality Brahman.
Also, the three other fingers represent the three Gunas of Nature. The middle finger represents Sattva Guna (Light, Purity, Clarity of mind, understanding, etc.). The ring finger represents Rajas (action, passion, movement, etc.). The little finger represents Tamas (inertia, dullness, inaction, confusion, etc.). These three Gunas have to be transcended to reach the ultimate reality. That is the philosophical symbolism behind this gesture.
Benefits of Jnana Mudra
Jnana Mudra modifies the pranic flow in the fingers. Usually the prana flows out through the extremities (hands, feet, head, etc.). In Jnana mudra we redirect some the flow by joining the thumb and the forefinger, and forming a circular loop. This redirects the energy inwards so that the mind energy is internalized. It calms the mind. Meditative asanas make the body steady, while the mudras add to the steadiness the mind. Using this mudra one can sit in meditation for a long duration, as it reduces the distractions arising in the mind. One can look at Jnana mudra as psycho-neural finger lock which helps to internalize the prana.