The Buddha's 32 Major Marks

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The Buddha's 32 Major Marks, མཚན་བཟང་པོ་སུམ་ཅུ་རྩ་གཉིས། mtshan bzang po sum cu rtsa gnyis, མཚན་བཟང་པོ་གཉིས། mtshan bzang so gnyis

as explained by Ju Mipham Rinpoche

in the Gateway to Knowledge, Volume III

  • [21,85] The thirtytwo marks of excellence are as follows:
  • [21,86] On the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet are the designs of a thousandspoked wheel that protrudes, as if stamped from a mold.
  • [21,87] The soles of his feet are even and wellset, like the belly of a tortoise.
  • [21,88] The fingers on his hands and the toes on his feet are, like the swan, connected with a web [made of light].
  • [21,89] His arms and legs are smooth and firm.
  • [21,90] The seven parts of his body are rounded — the wrists of his hands and ankles of his feet, the two shoulders and his neck, making seven, are rounded by being full, curved and without indentations.
  • [21,91] His fingers and toes are long.
  • [21,92] These four — the ball and heel of each foot — are prominent and broad.
  • [21,93] Taller than the ordinary man, his body is about seven cubits, large and straight, firm like a diamond and endowed with the strength of Vishnu.
  • [21,94] No protrusions are visible on his ankles and knees.
  • [21,95] The hairs on his body grow in an upward direction.
  • [21,96] His calves are round, full and beautiful like those of the enaya deer.
  • [21,97] His arms are long and beautiful, and when extended they can cover his kneecaps, even without bending his body.
  • [21,98] Like an elephant or a stallion, his genitals i.e., private parts are drawn up within a sheath.
  • [21,99] His skin is the color of gold, clear and radiant, and has a beautiful shine.
  • [21,100] His skin is thin and smooth.
  • [21,101] Each hair on his body is fine and smooth, singular and curls to the right.
  • [21,102] The place between his eyebrows is adorned with a coiled hair that is supple, smooth and white, and which, by nature, has the length of one or three cubits. Coiled clockwise, its size is like the kyurura fruit and it resembles a protrusion of silver.
  • [21,103] The torso is expansive like a lion.
  • [21,104] The top of the two shoulders are round like golden vases.
  • [21,105] The two palms are round and full without any indentations.
  • [21,106] His tongue has the quality that whatever taste is experienced becomes most delicious.
  • [21,107] His body, with proportions like the nyagrodha tree, is upright, balanced and beautiful.
  • [21,108] The protuberance, which is round, shiny black and coiled clockwise, is not evident to the sight.
  • [21,109] His tongue, which is naturally large enough to cover his whole face, is long and beautiful.
  • [21,110] His voice, endowed with the melodiousness of Brahma, has these five aspects of clarity: it is intelligible and brings full comprehension, is worthy of listening to and without unpleasant intonations, has depth and resonance, is generous and pleasant to hear, and is unruffled. Alternatively, these can be subdivided into sixty, or into the sixty aspects of melodious speech as will be explained below.
  • [21,111] His two cheeks are beautiful, round, full and resemble the surface of a mirror or the jaws of a lion.
  • [21,112] All his teeth, including the four incisors, have a very white color.
  • [21,113] All the teeth are equal in length and width.
  • [21,114] The teeth are evenly set, and are not divided by gaps.
  • [21,115] He has the complete number of forty teeth; twenty each above and below.
  • [21,116] While his eyes, beautiful like sapphire gems, show the primary feature, the particular aspects are these five: the iris in the middle of his eyes is round, shiny black like a bee, and has an extremely black pupil at its center; around them, the white of the eye, to the right and the left, is extremely white; the two corners have a red hue; the color of the center of the eye is bluish at the surface; and in its depth it is yellowish like the color of gold.
  • [21,117] His eyelashes are like those of a supreme heifer, chief among cows.
  • [21,118] The hairs on his upper and lower eyelids are beautifully curved and untangled, like the eyelashes of a cow or calf.
  • [21,119] These thirtytwo marks make whoever sees them understand: “This is a great being,” and generate admiration. They are therefore known as the marks that signify a great being.
  • [21,120] The Uttaratantra counts the two related to the bodyhairs and the two related to the skin each as one. His broad heels and nonprotruding ankles are one set. To substitute them, it teaches these three: the three lines on his throat that resemble an immaculate conch, his completely pure body endowed with a halo of light, and the hairs on his head that resemble sapphire jewels.
  • [21,121] Mentioning that his body has the strength of Vishnu, as a substitute for being large and upright, and other such variations, evidently reflects a specific intent in the various sutras.
  • [21,122] His throat, which resembles an immaculate conch, is called the conch of Dharma, the source from which the Brahmalike melodious sound of his voice arises. It is can be counted among the excellent marks, but most scriptures count it as the Brahmalike voice.
  • [21,123] The minor marks are described as completing the details of the major marks, just as the anthers — themselves a detail of the flower — comprise a minor mark that embellishes the flower, which is the major mark.