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Anjali In Hinduism

In Hinduism, Anjali is a conventional gesture of the hand used to denote respect, obeisance and worship, usually before a deity, sage or saint. Anjali gesture is denoted by the two palms pressed together, fingers and thumb close together, pointing upwardsand held near the chest. It is used in everyday life as namaskara (a way of greeting), commonly observed in Hindu and Buddhist social practice.

Anjali hasta (hand symbol) is found widely used in temple sculptures. Usually attendants of gods, bhaktas (devotees) and rishis (sages) are depicted in anjali pose, indicative of worship and prayer.

In Vishnu temples, especially in South India, Hanuman (the devotee of Bhagavan Sri Rama in the Ramayana), Garuda (the eagle-mount of Vishnu), Alvars (the Tamil saints) and acharyas (teachers) are depicted in anjali hasta. The well known image of Ramanuja (the renowned 12th century Sri Vaishnava teacher and philosopher) in this birth place, Sriperumbudur (Chengalpet district, Tamil Nadu) is shown in this pose.

According to the ancient works on the art of sculpture, the figure of the yogasayana murti (one of the forms of the reclining figure of Vishnu) should have on the back wall of the shrine, above the images of Vishnu, the image of the ayudha purushas, Garuda , Vishwaksena, and the saptarishis, all standing with their hands in the anjali pose.

Anjali is widely employed in the South Indian dance form, Bharatanatyam. In this dance form, it is a hasta abhinaya (gesture of the hands). According to the Natyashastra, anjali is done by putting two hands together and is intended to greet friends, to receive great personages and for making obeisance to deities. The hands are raised in anjali over the head before deities; close to the face while paying one’s respect to elders; and close to the chest while greeting friends. Hanuman is described in a shloka (verse) as paying obeisance to Bhagavan Sri Rama, with his hands place above his head in anjali (mastakanjali).

Anjali performed with flowers to the gods is known as pushpanjali.