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Maha Purusha – Distinguishing Marks Of A Great Man

According to ancient Hindu tradition, a maha purusha (great man) is known to have lakshanas (distinguishing marks). It is believed that they have a hundred and eight auspicious sings on their body, of which seventy six are minor and the remaining ones are major.

Lord Buddha is believed to have possessed all the thirty two maha vyanjana (marks) as enumerated in Ratna gotra vibhaga of Sthiramati, a Mahayana text.

Buddha is said to have been dvatrisanmahapurusha lakshna dhari that is one endowed with specific marks that behooves a great man, a fact clearly reflected in the images of Buddha.

The marks include:
  • The protrusion on the top of the head
  • A white mark between the eyes
  • Elongated arms
  • The upper half of the body like that of a lion
  • Webbed fingers of hand and feet
  • A radiant halo around the body.

There are many other marks about the neck, face, hair, speech, eyes and teeth. Sculptural evidence shows that by the early centuries of BC, these thirty two marks were standardized, as some of them like white mark between the eyes, the protrusion on the top of the head, elongated arms and webbed fingers can be identified distinctly in Buddha figures carved by about the 2nd century BC during the Kushan period.