Gaja Hasta Mudra

Definition - What does Gaja Hasta Mudra mean?

Gaja hasta mudra is a hand position that represents the elephant trunk of the Hindu god, Ganesha, who is the remover of obstacles and the son of Shiva. The term comes from the Sanskrit, gaja, which means “elephant”; hasta, meaning “hand”; and mudra, which translates as “mark,” “closure” or “seal.” Hasta mudras are used in conjunction with yoga asanas and are key symbolic elements in traditional Indian dance.

This mudra is most commonly found in depictions of Nataraja, lord of the dance and an avatar of Shiva. In gaja hasta mudra, his lower left hand points toward his upraised foot.

Yogapedia explains Gaja Hasta Mudra

Gaja hasta mudra is said to represent Nataraja's power to pacify enemies and remove obstacles that hinder the path to liberation from samsara and to moksha. The mudra is also a reminder to the faithful to seek the blessing of a guru to aid their spiritual journey. Gaja hasta mudra is sometimes called kari hasta mudra, with kari meaning “having a trunk,” but also translates as “here I am.”

In classical Indian theater and dance – known as Shastriya Nritya – each movement, mudra, prop, clothing and even makeup color has symbolic significance. The dancer communicates with the audience through the various hasta mudras. These mudras further convey the mood and spiritual ideas.

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