Definition - What does Abhaya Mudra mean?
Abhaya mudra is a sacred hand gesture or ‘seal’ used during yoga and meditation practice as a means of channeling the flow of vital life force energy known as prana. This gesture is used to dispel fear and develop courage, highlighted by the name abhaya which is Sanskrit for "fearlessness."
Abhaya mudra is symbolic of safety, protection, peace and reassurance, and can be called upon during challenging times.
Abhaya mudra is a hasta mudra, meaning it is practiced using the hands. This gesture is performed with the right handheld upright at shoulder height, palm open and facing forwards.
It is most often practiced using only the right hand, but some images of the walking Buddha depict this mudra with both hands at shoulder height and the palms facing out.
In Mahayana Buddhism, it is often paired with another mudra using the left hand. In Japan, the abhaya mudra may be seen with the middle finger slightly projected forward, symbolic of the Shingon.
For maximum benefits, it should be practiced daily for up to 30 minutes.
Yogapedia explains Abhaya Mudra
Abhaya mudra is generally symbolic of fearlessness and good intentions, but it can also be interpreted with a more specific meaning depending on the region and era in which it was used.
When depicted on images of the Buddha using only the left hand, this gesture is said to be a means of forbidding relatives to fight, referring to an event in which he used abhaya mudra to dispel a family argument over water rights.
In images of the Buddha with both hands raised, abhaya mudra is also referred to as the gesture of ‘calming the ocean,’ symbolic of an occasion where Buddha is said to have prevented a flood.
This ancient gesture is thought to be the first mudra the Buddha used after reaching enlightenment and is depicted on a number of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh images.
However, since it is a gesture that displays the hands empty of weapons, it is likely that abhaya mudra predates the emergence of religion and was used long before as a symbol of peace and good intention between strangers.
It is also associated with preaching, and could be interpreted as symbolic of openness towards a congregation.
In yoga, abhaya mudra can be used during meditation in any stable seated posture such as padmasana (lotus pose) or virasana (hero pose). It is sometimes practiced in a modification of Virabhadrasana II (warrior II), in which the practitioner raises the front hand into abhaya mudra as a display of humility and strength. This mudra can be called upon as a means of overcoming fears or phobias, and to provide a sense of internal protection.
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