Different Buddha statues hold different meanings including overcoming fear, calm or serenity, meditation, Earth touching or calling the Earth to witness, nirvana, medicine, teaching, walking, contemplation, begging and repelling the ocean. The different Buddha meanings can be deciphered by looking at the pose, the posture and the hand gestures of the Buddha.
There are more than 100 different Buddha poses that are also called asanas or attitudes. They demonstrate the life of the Buddha and focus on an important event in the Buddha's past life. The hand gesture that is associated with the Buddha pose is called a mudra.
Most Buddha statues will be shown with the legs crossed and in a sitting position, however, there are two different positions for the crossed legs. One is with the right leg resting above the leg leg and the other is with both knees pointing downward. These are known as the single lotus position and the double lotus position.
Most Thai temples set eight small Buddha statues aside and people are asked to donate to the bowl of the statue that represents that day of the week. Sunday is the Buddha standing with arms crossed over the stomach representing mental insight. Monday is the protection Buddha, Tuesday is the reclining Buddha, Wednesday before noon is the alms collecting Buddha and Wednesday after noon is Buddha sitting with monkey and elephant, Thursday is meditation Buddha, Friday is contemplation Buddha and Saturday is Buddha seated under a naga.
The outward, open palmed extension of the right hand is the symbol for protection, while two open hands with their thumbs forming a triangle is the symbol for meditation and contemplation. Adoration is expressed through a praying gesture. The right hand facing down with the left hand open, palm facing upward in the lap symbolizes calling for truth. The left hand of a Buddha with the palm extended outward and upward is a symbol of compassion. The two end fingers of the right hand extended with the two middle fingers pressing against the thumb is a way of expelling or warding off negative energy. Hands crossed over the chest conveys self-confidence. An open right palm with the index finger pressing against the thumb symbolizes teaching, and the right hand facing outward with the left hand facing inward with the thumbs and index fingers forming circles is a way of expressing cosmic order. Finally, two hands intertwined with the index fingers forming a triangle is a symbol that Buddha is in a state of supreme enlightenment.