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Mudras used in Hindu worship
The word Mudra is derived from the Sanskrit words Mud+Dhra, or bliss+dissolving – meaning that which dissolves duality and brings together the deity and the devotee. Mudras are gestures performed with the hands and are used to convey various feelings, or expressions or meanings. (Recently the the famous Australian cricketer Greg Chappell showed the notorious “middle finger mudra” to the Ganguly fans at Kolkata!!).
The use of the Mudras is quite common in the Hindu Poojas, Tantric worships, Yoga and also in Classical Indian dances. In Hindu iconography, the deities are often depicted with their hands making various Mudras – like the twin gestures of dispelling fears and granting boons. Various deities have several specific Mudras which are associated with them. They are used by the practitioner for various purposes – like activating the various nerve centers, to convey a feeling or to appease a deity etc.
Each finger represents one of the five elementsâ€”the thumb is agni (fire), the forefinger is vayu (air), the middle finger is akash (ether), the ring finger is prithvi (earth) and the little finger is jal (water).
Please note that in Natya Sastra (classical dance) and in Yoga also there are several similarly named Mudras which are at times quite different from the Pooja Mudras. For example the Yoni Mudra used in Yoga is totally different from the Yoni Mudra used in Pooja.
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