The "Hamsa Hand" and what it means in Buddhism?
Although this palm-shaped symbol is often associated with Buddhism, other religious communities including Muslims, Jewish, and Christians have also embraced this universal symbol. Many of us have seen this symbol on jewelry, t-shirts, home decorations, and even as body tattoos. However, few really understand the origin and significance of this popular symbol.
This decorative amulet first appeared almost two thousand years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, which is now modern-day Iraq in the Middle East. If this symbol did appear, as evidence suggests, in ancient Mesopotamia, then the hamsa hand symbol would actually predate all modern religions. The symbol not only has religious significance but also deep spiritual meaning as well. Anyone can wear the hamsa hand regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs.
In Buddhism, besides offering profound protection, the hamsa hand symbolizes the different mudras used in Buddhist tradition. Mudras, for those that are not familiar with the term, are different hand positions normally seen, for example, in Buddhist art. In yoga, mudras are often used in combination with yogic breathing exercises.
Translating the "Hamsa Hand" across cultures
In the time since the hamsa hand spread throughout many cultures around the world, there have been different meanings, but the symbol is generally associated with protection from evil and negative energy.
The word hamsa is an Arabic word meaning five, which is derived from the same root as the Hebrew word for five. In Jewish culture, the hamsa is often associated with the number “five” because of the five fingers on the hand.
There are also different names for the hamsa hand. For example, in Jewish culture, this unique emblem is known as the Hand of Miriam. On the other hand, Muslim communities refer to this sign as Khamsa or the Hand of Fatima. Furthermore, there are also several variations of the name for hamsa such as hamesh and chamsa.
That being said, there are different reasons in each culture for the use of this word. In Jewish culture, the word refers to the five books of Torah while the five pillars of Islam are the basis for khamsa within Muslim communities.
Protection from evil energy
There are two ways in which to wear the Hamsa hand – upward or downward. When the hamsa hand is facing down, the owner will attract prosperity and success. On the contrary, when the symbol is facing up, the hamsa hand is tasked with overcoming evil energy and protecting the owner from harm.
Either way, the hamsa hand can be worn in an upward or downward position as it will still provide the owner of this important symbol with positivity and happiness while the eye, embedded in the palm, continues to ensure to provide protection to those who wear it.