This paper will attempt to unearth some of the historical roots of the earth-touching gesture by considering eight different textual accounts of it from the Buddhist traditions of the early centuries CE. Maria Spagnoli has recently argued that the gesture stems from Greek antecedents in oath-making that were transferred to ancient India, perhaps through Gandhara. While this may indeed be so, more remains to be said about possible Indian roots of the gesture. To that end, this paper will explore resonances the gesture has with material in several important Vedic tropes. It will also consider the problem of early Buddhist aniconism, and how the gesture may have played a role in opening up the Buddha’s form to iconic representation.
"The Shape of Victory: the Earth-Touching Gesture in Context,"
The Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies: Vol. 22, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.linfield.edu/iijbs/vol22/iss1/8