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Often seen on standing, sitting or walking statues of the Buddha, the Abhaya Mudra conveys protection from all the fears that beset us in material life. With arm bent, the palm of the right hand is raised to shoulder level, facing outward, with fingers straight and pointing upward. The Abhaya Mudra represents fearlessness and encouragement. It is believed that Buddha’s hand assumed this Mudra after he attained enlightenment, conveying “don’t be afraid”.
Thai Buddhas often have both palms raised in this gesture. In its pre-Buddhist form, the mudra may have represented a cordial greeting to a stranger, a non-threatening approach. Sakyamuni is often represented in frescoes employing this mudra to calm and reassure Devadatta, an attacking elephant.
The Abhaya Mudra is closely associated with the green Buddha known as Amogasiddhi. Interestingly, this mudra parallels the magna manus or the ‘great hand’ of Christ depicted in early Christian art.