The Secret of Abhaya(“Don’t fear”) and Varada(“Boon giving”) Gestures of Shridevi

Picture of Shridevi Mookambika of Kollur

Our Invincible and Boon-giver Mother: Shridevi Mookambika of Kollur, Karnataka (Source: Google)


Hari Om! Namaste!!

You would have noticed that most of Hindu deities have more than two hands. They hold many things in their hands – right from  book, Veena(musical instrument), Rudraksha maala, etc.  to weapons such as goad, trident and so on. These are symbolic of what they offer or as a sign of reassurance of protection.

If the hands are not holding anything, they show mystical gestures known as mudras. Gestures are extremely powerful and are very important nonverbal tools in tantric worship. The most crucial gestures are abhaya (“Fear not, I am here to protect you!”) and varada(“I am giving you boons!”).

To see these gestures, take a look at the above picture of all powerful Shridevi Mookambika. Her right hand shows abhaya mudra whereas the left hand displays varada mudra. Now comes the interesting question of our current topic:

What is the secret meaning of varada and abhaya gestures of Shridevi? 

Good question. Let us understand the answer clearly once for all.  Be all you ears(eyes), OK? Fine.

  • Abhaya Mudra: This is the gesture of protection and reassurance. By this mudra, Shridevi says with affection- “My devotee! Fear not. I am here to protect you!”. Protection from what? Any fear. Maybe it is fear of examination for students,  fear of failure for businessmen etc. But most important fear is that of birth and death cycle of our Individual Self. We should be very afraid to be in this infinite vicious cycle.
    Abhaya mudra suggests that Shridevi gives us the liberation(moksha) from birth and death cycle. She offers her eternal abode as final refuge by this gesture. Devi Parvati is the deity of liberation of souls. So, this mudra emphasizes dissolution function of Devi Parvati and Lord Shiva inherent in Shridevi. So, abhaya mudra bestows liberation(moksha). It indirectly implies the supreme power and invincibility of Shridevi to dissolve all difficulties in the path of liberation.
  • Varada Mudra: It is called “boon giving” gesture. Why do we need boons? To fulfill our various desires for material enjoyment(bhoga) while living on the Earth.  By this mudra, Shridevi says – “Don’t worry, I will give you the boons for your material enjoyment!”. This mudra symbolizes sustenance function of Lord Vishnu and Shri Lakshmi attributes present in Shridevi. So, it offers us prosperity and material enjoyment(bhoga). It also implies the all-giving magnanimous nature of Supreme Mother Shridevi.

But there is another question:

Why does Shridevi show  abahaya mudra on the right hand and  varada mudra on the left?

Very interesting question indeed! OK. Let us face it.  Everybody needs both material enjoyment in life and liberation after his life. Right? Although both are necessary, which one do we need to consider more important?  Here, Shridevi’s gestures give us the authoritative symbolic guidance.

Universally, for most of the people, right hand is dominant and considered more significant.  Abhaya mudra on the right hand suggests that liberation(moksha) is more important than material enjoyment(bhoga) that is symbolized by varada mudra on the left hand. Got the message?

What is the hidden message of abhaya and varada gestures?

As discussed above, abhaya and varada gestures symbolize Parvati and Lakshmi aspects of Supreme Mother Shridevi.  Shridevi bestows liberation(moksha) and material enjoyment(bhoga) to her devotees through these gestures. These two gestures also symbolize the oneness of Lakshmi and Parvati in the Supreme Mother Shridevi Durga.

As always, your usual question 🙂 :

What is my take home from the entire discussion?

If we pray Shridevi with complete devotion, she surely provides us both material enjoyment(bhoga) and liberation(moksha) just by her gestures!  Got it now?

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

Retrospective Highlights  from Our Archive:
Everybody is talking about yoga these days. Suffixing the term yoga with almost any activity seems to help selling the products and services in the market place. Yoga is being advertised as panacea in almost everything: to get a lean and flexible body, to acquire health, to reduce stress, curing cancer/diabetes an so on.

It has become a latest fad to practice so called modern yoga taking the “me too” approach, without knowing either aim or basics of real yoga. For some people, practicing yoga has become like a daily circus to challenge physically and entertain themselves!  What a pity!

It is unfortunate that some of these new age yoga systems focus only on physical benefits, deviating completely from fundamental principles and great spiritual goals of traditional yoga. They literally ask us to ‘spin a wheel’ promising some benefits(whatever they are!) by teaching some physical exercises minus active ingredient, spirituality.

Just think about it. Are these so called new age yoga systems have anything to do with the real goal of yoga  as defined by our Great Indian Masters? Not necessarily.  Be advised. Use your discretion.

To know the real difference between our traditional yoga and new age yoga, read a thought-provoking conversation of Chanchal and Nischal  in  this interesting article on our blog.  It is funny! We are sure that you will really like it!

Enjoy! Have fun!!

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Rudraksha Yoga


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