abhaya mudra

   The abhaya mudra (see mudras) is an important gesture in Indian iconography. In it, the right hand is raised and opened, straight up and facing forward (divinities with more than two hands raise one of their right hands). Abhaya literally means “no fear,” and the gesture indi-cates blessing, protection, and reassurance. The gesture is ancient and widespread and is found in the iconography of Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus.
   The Buddha(s) and the TIRTHANKARAs are frequently seen using this hand gesture. The Lord SHIVA in his NATARAJA, or divine dancer, pose has his upper right hand in the abhaya mudra. In fact, this mudra may be used when any divinity is represented in Indian dance/dramas.
   Further reading: Fredrick W. Bunce, A Dictionary of Buddhist and Hindu Iconography, Illustrated: Objects, Devices, Concepts, Rites, and Related Terms (New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 1997); Eva Rudy Jansen, The Hindu Book of Imagery: The Gods and Their Symbols (Havelte, Holland: Binkey Kok, 1995); Margaret Stutley, An Illustrated Dictionary of Hindu Iconography (Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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