How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

A forum for beginners and members of other Buddhist traditions to ask questions about Theravāda (The Way of the Elders). Responses require moderator approval before they are visible in order to double-check alignment to Theravāda orthodoxy.
User avatar
Keith
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:23 pm

How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Keith »

I've seen a few variations:
Palms flat together
Palms flat together
Thumbs tucked in
Thumbs tucked in
More open, like a bud
More open, like a bud
... (More to come, cannot add more images to this post for some reason... stand by)

User avatar
Keith
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:23 pm

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Keith »

Interlocked fingers
Interlocked fingers
Crossed thumbs
Crossed thumbs
So, what do you do? Is there a 'correct' method?
Last edited by Keith on Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 6623
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm
Location: Sussex, U.K.

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Sam Vara »

I've mainly seen 1 and 3. Different traditions might have different preferences, but for lay people I don't think it matters and it is unlikely anyone will object to any "style". There are a couple of suttas which say "palms together", but I would imagine the intention and reverence is what counts. My advice is to do what you are happiest with.

User avatar
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
Posts: 995
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:06 pm

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

.


The hand posture while paying homage to Buddha:Image
  • posture 3. What Myanmar monks recommend
    [like a lotus bud] seen from the front
:heart:
.


🅢🅐🅑🅑🅔 🅓🅗🅐🅜🅜🅐 🅐🅝🅐🅣🅣🅐

Self ...
  • "an entirely and perfectly foolish idea" :D ~ MN22

User avatar
Naga108
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Nov 03, 2019 3:56 pm

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Naga108 »

It depends on the country. In Thailand, there are three different ways in which one can greet (the Thai word is ไหว้, which is pronounced as 'why/wai' .)

When bowing to a monk and statues of the Buddha, you lower your head until your thumbs are in between your eyebrows. Make certain to bow slightly. This form of wai is the most formal.

However, a quick wai to a passing monk on the street is very polite.

I was outside of a major mall, and a sole monk walked around with his alms bowl. I gave him a quick wai (without stopping and getting on my hands and knees). He was very appreciative and smiled! :) Unfortunately, monks seldom get this in areas such as Bangkok or Pattaya.

When I was at Wat Yan, I was much more formal around Ajahn Suchart, and the other monks under his tutelage. On alms round, the villagers kept the aforementioned wai after donating food. The amount of gifted food was incredible - it filled up schoolbuses.
"'What am I becoming as the days & nights fly past?'..." (AN 10.48)

:buddha1:

https://www.facebook.com/kovida108

User avatar
Keith
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:23 pm

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Keith »

Thank you for the replies so far, very interesting. I was hoping for quite a few more replies; presumably most folk here at some point bow to an altar/shrine, so I was keen to read views on how folk do so.

I wonder if it's similar to Christians putting their hands together to pray. Some clasp fingers, some put their hands palm-to-palm with fingers stretched upwards (like image 1 above), some simply bow their heads and do nothing with their hands, but no-one cares at all what someone does because it's a personal preference in how one wishes to show reverence to God.

I want to show reference to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and I'm aware that there are many customs in Buddhist-native countries that can seem minor and petty to outsiders, perhaps, so I really just wanted to see if folk could offer a bit of guidance or advice.

User avatar
Nicolas
Posts: 1035
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2014 8:59 pm
Location: Somerville, MA, USA

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Nicolas »

I do the palms and fingers against each other (like in the first picture), but typically with the thumbs only touching each other and not the rest of the hands (i.e. the thumbs are more relaxed and less "tight"), it's what comes most naturally to me.

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 17581
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by mikenz66 »

Keith wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 5:26 pm
I want to show reference to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and I'm aware that there are many customs in Buddhist-native countries that can seem minor and petty to outsiders, perhaps, so I really just wanted to see if folk could offer a bit of guidance or advice.
My approach is to fit in. The first (with Nicholas' modification) seems pretty standard among the Thai people I know. Be aware that with some of these things there are gender differences, notably with the feet when kneeling:

Image

:heart:
Mike

User avatar
Mkoll
Posts: 6537
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: Texas

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Mkoll »

I don't think the vast majority of people care enough to give your hands a second thought if they're close to any of those variations. I've never thought about it myself until seeing this post.

I do what Nicolas described.

:anjali:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

User avatar
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
Posts: 995
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:06 pm

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

mikenz66 wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:23 pm
Keith wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 5:26 pm
I want to show reference to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and I'm aware that there are many customs in Buddhist-native countries that can seem minor and petty to outsiders, perhaps, so I really just wanted to see if folk could offer a bit of guidance or advice.
My approach is to fit in. The first (with Nicholas' modification) seems pretty standard among the Thai people I know. Be aware that with some of these things there are gender differences, notably with the feet when kneeling:

Image

:heart:
Mike


That photo was taken in Yangon, Myanmar.
And, many Burmese don't religiously follow the "rules", as evident by the "typical" people in that photo.

1) the hand postures seen (man and kid) are the first type, rather than the third "lotus bud" type recommended by monks.
2) the feet and leg positions are all non-standard, including the lady's legs in samurai sitting.

What is recommended by tradition:

Five-"point-of-touch"
  • "feet"
  • "hands"
  • "knees"
  • "elbows"
  • forehead


Image


Image


Image

Image

Image

:heart:
.


🅢🅐🅑🅑🅔 🅓🅗🅐🅜🅜🅐 🅐🅝🅐🅣🅣🅐

Self ...
  • "an entirely and perfectly foolish idea" :D ~ MN22

User avatar
mikenz66
Posts: 17581
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi SDA,
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:58 am
That photo was taken in Yangon, Myanmar.
And, many Burmese don't religiously follow the "rules", as evident by the "typical" people in that photo.
1) the hand postures seen (man and kid) are the first type, rather than the third "lotus bud" type recommended by monks.
2) the feet and leg positions are all non-standard, including the lady's legs in samurai sitting.
Yes, I know it was Myanmar. I couldn't find a suitable Thai picture at the time.

Interestingly, I don't recall hearing this "Lotus Bud" idea from Thai bhikkhus or lay people until now. I take it it's a common description in Sri Lanka? It's certainly a beautiful idea. In any case, it's much more natural and easy for me to have my palms slightly apart, so that's how I've always done it.

The woman in the picture is sitting similarly to what I've generally seen amongst Thai women, but of course I may be missing some subtlety. Is this position not approved of in Sri Lanka for women? Do they only use the legs-at-the-side position? And I've never seen anyone start the bowing as in your pictures - only starting from the kneeling position.

I used to kneel with my feet flat, because I just copied the lay people here, who were mainly women. Then, when I was in Hong Kong for a few months, someone at the group I was attending pointed out that I was "kneeling like a woman" :tongue: so I learned to be up on my toes. I find that quite taxing long term, so for a chanting session I have to use a cushion to take some of the weight off my toes, until the point we can switch to a more comfortable position.

Thank you for the explanations and diagrams. I think that it's useful to be aware of possible local variations, which can be really confusing (such as Thai bhikkhus using a cloth to receive gifts from females, which I believe is not the custom in Sri Lanka). Not to mention different chanting styles...

As I said in my post, I think it's useful to watch (and listen) to what others are doing and try to fit in, or at least not to stick out...

:heart:
Mike

User avatar
Keith
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:23 pm

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Keith »

Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:58 am
.What is recommended by tradition:

Five-"point-of-touch"
  • "feet"
  • "hands"
  • "knees"
  • "elbows"
  • forehead
...
Image
...
Image
This is absolutely fascinating, thank you for sharing! The first position, where just the feet touch the ground, is a position I naturally find myself crouching in. At work, in my lab, I 'sit' on my lab stool like that when I'm not sat half-lotus on a lab bench at the back of the lab (I'm a teacher, and my students find it odd, but generally don't comment because they're used to my idiosyncrasies). When I was a child, I would 'sit' in that first position all the time and my Mother thought it was odd, but it just felt so comfortable and natural. It's not a position that I was taught to 'sit' in, and not a position that my friends 'sat' in. We don't know where it came from nor why I find it so comfortable and natural... but it is absolutely fascinating to now learn, at 36 years old, that the ostensibly unique way I've always sat is actually a traditional way to sit when prostrating to a Buddharupa. Maybe coincidence :shrug: but the more I learn, the more I start to believe that something of the character from one life persists into the next.
Last edited by Keith on Sat Feb 01, 2020 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Keith
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:23 pm

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Keith »

Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:58 am
What is recommended by tradition...
I forgot to ask, what tradition is this from please? A general Theravada thing, or specific to one particular country? Thank you

User avatar
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
Posts: 995
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:06 pm

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

Keith wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 7:25 am
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:58 am
What is recommended by tradition...
I forgot to ask, what tradition is this from please? A general Theravada thing, or specific to one particular country? Thank you
Sorry about my unclear word. It's Burmese tradition in dealing with Buddha, Sangha, and the elders, imo.

:heart:
.


🅢🅐🅑🅑🅔 🅓🅗🅐🅜🅜🅐 🅐🅝🅐🅣🅣🅐

Self ...
  • "an entirely and perfectly foolish idea" :D ~ MN22

User avatar
Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta
Posts: 995
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:06 pm

Re: How would you place your hands when bowing/saluting the shrine/showing respect to monastics

Post by Sabbe_Dhamma_Anatta »

Keith wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 7:21 am
...
When I was a child, I would 'sit' in that first position all the time
...
We don't know where it came from nor why I find it so comfortable and natural...
...
but it is absolutely fascinating to now learn, at 36 years old, that the ostensibly unique way I've always sat is actually a traditional way to sit when prostrating to a Buddharupa.
...



You must have been an asian somewhere in samsara, because it's called the 'Asian Squat' :lol:

I've to congratulate you on that in the light of the following article :thumbsup: Along with some health benefits, some say.

"Asian Squat: What Is It? What’s The Hype? Can You Do It?"



:heart:
.


🅢🅐🅑🅑🅔 🅓🅗🅐🅜🅜🅐 🅐🅝🅐🅣🅣🅐

Self ...
  • "an entirely and perfectly foolish idea" :D ~ MN22

Post Reply