Arrangement of the Thirty-two Excellent Signs and Eighty Exemplary Features According to Location on a Buddha’s Enlightening Body
based on explanations given by Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey
as translated by Sharpa Rinpoche
In order to help obtain a cohesive, complete picture of the Enlightening Body of a Buddha, let us combine the lists of the thirty-two excellent signs (mtshan bzang-po gsum-cu rtsa-gnyis, thirty-two major marks) and eighty exemplary features (dpe-byad brgyad-cu, eighty minor marks) and present them according to their locations on the body.
[For the individual lists and their causes, see: The Thirty-two Excellent Signs (Major Marks) of a Buddha’s Enlightening Body, and The Eighty Exemplary Features (Minor Marks) of a Buddha’s Enlightening Body.]
(1) The top of a Buddha’s head has a crown protrusion (gtsug-tor, Skt. ushnisha), made of radiant flesh, round and circling clockwise. When seen from a distance, it seems to be four finger-widths high, but upon closer scrutiny, its height can never be measured.
(2) A Buddha’s cheeks are round and full like those of a lion. [In the Pali, Sanskrit and Chinese traditions, this feature is given in reference to his jawbone or chin].
(1) Except for the crown protrusion, a Buddha has a perfectly rounded head, in the shape of a dome.
(2) A Buddha’s forehead is wide from side to side and top to bottom.
(3) A Buddha’s forehead is also flat, with a clear, well-defined hairline.
(3) A Buddha’s bodily hair grows upwards.
(4) A Buddha’s bodily hair curls clockwise, with never more than one hair growing from each pore.
(5) A Buddha has a white treasure-like curl of hair (mdzod-spu, Skt. urnakesha) on his mid-brow that curls very tightly clockwise. When it is pulled from its tip, it extends a huge distance, and when released, it tightly recoils.
(4) A Buddha is either completely bald, or has a full crop of hair.
(5) The color of a Buddha’s hair is a vivid black-blue.
(6) A Buddha’s hair is soft and smooth.
(7) A Buddha’s hair is very fine and silky.
(8) A Buddha’s hair never becomes matted or tangled. Each hair is distinct, and curls in a clockwise pattern.
(9) A Buddha’s hair has a naturally sweet fragrance.
(6) The black and white portions of a Buddha’s eyes are clear and distinct, with no red or yellow discolorations. [The Further Everlasting Continuum (rGyud bla-ma, Skt. Uttaratantra) tradition adds that the eyes of a Buddha are dark blue like a blue water lily, while the Pali tradition simply has that a Buddha’s eyes are dark blue].
(7) A Buddha’s eyelashes are beautiful and long, like those of a bull, with each hair distinct.
(10) A Buddha’s eyes are pure and unclouded.
(11) The Buddha’s eyes are not wide, but are slanted in a thin strip.
(12) The white and black portions of a Buddha’s eyes are distinctly divided like individual, beautiful lotus petals.
(13) A Buddha has thick eyelashes that are properly arranged in single file.
(14) A Buddha’s physical sight is unblurred, and the sight of his omniscient mind is perfectly pure.
(15) A Buddha’s eyebrows are long, stretching from the mid head to the temple.
(16) Each hair of a Buddha’s eyebrow is exactly the same length.
(17) The hairs on a Buddha’s eyebrows aren’t bristly, but are soft and smooth.
(18) A Buddha’s eyebrows are bright, shiny and vivid.
(19) A Buddha’s ears are equally sized.
(20) A Buddha demonstrates perfect hearing, and can hear regardless of distance.
(21) The nose of a Buddha is straight and slightly raised at the tip.
(22) A Buddha’s nose is completely clean and free of mucus, and it never runs.
(8) A Buddha has a special faculty of taste that no matter what food he is given, it always tastes delicious.
(23) The chin of a Buddha is evenly proportional and is neither too long nor too wide.
(24) A Buddha’s lips are full, red, and well developed.
(9) A Buddha’s tongue is extremely long and can reach the top of his head, his ears, and his chest.
(25) The tongue of a Buddha is particularly thin.
(26) The color of a Buddha’s tongue is completely red.
(27) A Buddha’s tongue is very flexible, and can be thick or thin, long or short, according to need.
(10) A Buddha’s eye-teeth are more brilliantly white than his other teeth are.
(11) A Buddha’s teeth are all of equal length. [The Furthest Everlasting Continuum tradition adds that a Buddha’s teeth are also free of stains].
(12) A Buddha’s teeth are perfectly aligned and straight, with no gaps between them.
(13) A Buddha has a set of forty teeth, with an equal number on the upper and lower jaws.
(28) The teeth of a Buddha, and all other parts including the bones, nails and hair are enlightened beings.
(29) A Buddha’s eye-teeth are sharp.
(30) A Buddha’s eye-teeth are of equal length.
(31) A Buddha’s eye teeth are narrow and fit in perfectly with the rest of his teeth.
(32) A Buddha’s teeth are perfectly white and as clear as crystal.
(14) A Buddha’s voice is melodious like that of an ancient song-bird, flowing without any effort, or like that of a Brahma. Whoever hears the voice of a Brahma is temporarily relieved of his or her problems, but the sound of a Buddha’s melodious and resonant enlightening speech can bring about full liberation from all fears.
(33) The sound of a Buddha’s voice is as loud and far-reaching as thunder.
(34) A Buddha’s voice is smooth, sweet, rhythmic and extremely pleasant to listen to.
(15) Seven parts of a Buddha’s body are rounded and slightly raised. These are the tops of each hand, foot, shoulder and the back of the neck.
(16) The body of a Buddha is very straight and is seven cubits tall, while ordinary persons are usually four cubits tall. [Pali tradition: the body is as straight as that of Brahma].
(17) A Buddha’s elbows and kneecaps do not stand out. [Pali tradition: the anklebones do not stand out].
(18) The body of a Buddha is as stately and well-proportioned as a full-grown bodhi tree. [Pali tradition: the analogy of a banyan tree, instead of a bodhi tree].
(35) The body of a Buddha is fully taut and exudes a natural magnificence and glory.
(36) The body of a Buddha is immaculately tidy and is as if it had been polished.
(37) A Buddha’s body is youthful.
(38) A Buddha’s body has no indentations.
(39) A Buddha’s body is well-fleshed and well-developed.
(40) A Buddha’s body is firm, and not at all flabby.
(41) A Buddha’s body is naturally clean.
(42) A Buddha’s body is naturally pure.
(43) A Buddha’s body is balanced in size, and is perfectly proportioned and symmetrical.
(44) A Buddha has beautifully proportioned and well-distinguished hands, fingers, feet and toes.
(45) The reach of a Buddha’s body is extensive and excellent. It is flexible and has the ability to reach anything.
(46) A Buddha’s body contains the full set of the thirty-two excellent signs of the Buddha’s Enlightening Body.
(19) The upper torso of a Buddha becomes progressively broader, like that of a lion.
(20) The top of a Buddha’s shoulders are round and well-connected to his neck, and his network of veins is not visible. [Pali tradition: his shoulders are evenly rounded].
(21) The area between a Buddha’s collarbone and shoulder is rounded, fleshy and full, without any hollow depression.
(22) The skin of a Buddha, no matter how old he is, remains unwrinkled and as smooth as that of an infant nursing on his mother’s milk. [Pali tradition: he has tender hands and feet].
(23) The skin of a Buddha is luminous and golden in color.
(24) The skin of a Buddha is as fine and unblemished as is purified gold free from all taints. [Pali tradition: his skin is delicate and smooth].
(47) The skin of a Buddha is soft and smooth.
(48) On a Buddha’s skin, one cannot find a single beauty mark, mole, pockmark or freckle.
(49) Veins and arteries are not visible through the skin of a Buddha’s body.
(50) There are no knots in the veins or central channel of the subtle and external bodies of a Buddha.
(25) The arms of a Buddha are extremely long. When he sits cross-legged with his elbows at his side, his hands cover his knees so that his fingers can touch his seat. [The Furthest Everlasting Continuum tradition adds that his arms are smooth, round and even in length].
(51) A Buddha has hands that are as smooth as cotton.
(52) When he gives prophecies, a Buddha’s hands have a long stretch like the trunk of an elephant.
(53) The lines on a Buddha’s palms are glossy and distinct.
(54) When a Buddha raises his hands, the deep lines on his palms are visible even from a great distance. According to the particular limited being, the lines are viewed differently. For instance, some beings may see the eight auspicious signs.
(55) The lines in a Buddha’s palms are long and contiguous, none of them are short or broken.
(26) The fingers and toes of a Buddha are connected with a web of white light.
(27) The fingers and toes of a Buddha are extremely long.
(56) The fingers of a Buddha are round.
(57) The fingers of a Buddha are slim and tapered, and one cannot find a single fold or wrinkle on them.
(58) The fingers of a Buddha are beautifully developed and soft.
(59) A Buddha’s thumbprints and toe prints are of endless knots and other auspicious sings, such as clockwise swastikas.
(60) A Buddha has copper-colored nails.
(61) A Buddha has nails that are radiant and shining.
(62) A Buddha has nails that are convex and rounded in shape.
(63) The navel of a Buddha is very deep.
(64) The lines in a Buddha’s navel swirl clockwise.
(28) A Buddha’s private organ is recessed and remains concealed.
(65) The belly of a Buddha is curved, not flat.
(66) A Buddha’s waist is perfectly proportioned.
(67) A Buddha’s waist is not too long, too wide, too far or too crooked.
(68) A Buddha’s slender belly is positioned neither too high nor too low.
(29) A Buddha’s calves are well-rounded, like the legs of an antelope.
(30) A Buddha’s heels jut out broadly from his feet.
(31) On the sole of each of a Buddha’s feet and on the palm of each hand is the impression of a thousand-spoked wheel.
(32) The soles of a Buddha’s feet are as smooth and level as the breast of a tortoise’s shell, so that his feet are always firmly planted.
(69) When a Buddha walks, the bump on his ankle disappears because it is so small.
(70) The soles of a Buddha’s feet are flat, rather than uneven.
(71) A Buddha’s feet are equal in size, as are the steps he takes.
(72) A Buddha walks like a lion, stately and full of confidence.
(73) A Buddha walks like an elephant, beautifully straight and steady on the path.
(74) A Buddha walks like a majestic bull, without fear.
(75) A Buddha can, if necessary, exercise the extraphysical power of flying like a graceful swan.
(76) A Buddha walks with his right side toward anyone he meets.
(77) When walking, a Buddha neither swaggers nor sways, but rather walks very smoothly without any imbalance.
(78) A Buddha walks very beautifully, looking straight ahead with his hands clasped, taking not-too-large steps.
(79) A Buddha conducts his body, speech and mind with the utmost purity.
(80) All of a Buddha’s manifestations of actions are entirely beautiful and pleasing to the minds of others.
Join us in trying to benefit others.
Support our work!
This website relies completely on donations. Its maintenance, preparation of the remaining 70% of our planned material, and further translating is costly. Although we currently have 80 volunteers, 23 essential team members require payment. Help us raise the 100,000 euros (US $150,000) required each year
to continue providing our website free of charge.
Reaching Our Goal (10%)