Hasta is the Sanskrit word for hand and Deva means God. So simply translated, the hand gestures which depict the Gods from the Hindu tradition are known as Deva Hasta. Each representation thus becomes unique to one particular God and becomes universal in most classical dance forms of India, such as a depiction of man with a flute is always Krishna. These hasta give a dramatic representation and sculptural construction of deities.
The shloka for deva hastas is as follows:
“Athaatra Bramha rudraadi Devatabhinaya kramaat
Moortibheden ye Hastaasteshaan Lakshana muchyate”
- Lord Bramha: Left hand in Chatura, right hand in Hamsasya.
- Lord Siva: Left hand in Mrigasirsa, right hand in Tripataka.
- Lord Vishnu: Tripataka with both hands.
- Devi Saraswati: Right hand in Suchi, left hand in Kapittha.
- Devi Parvati: Right hand in Ardhachandra held vertical (abhaya hasta), left hand in Ardhachandra held facing down (varada hasta).
- Devi Lakshmi: Kapittha hands near the shoulders held vertically.
- Lord Ganesha: Kapittha hands on the waist held horizontally, or, Left hand in Mukula (modaka) and right hand in sarpasirsa (abhaya hasta).
- Lord Kartikeya: Left hand in trishul, and right hand in shikhara: or right hand in trishul and left hand in dola: or right hand in shikharam near shoulder and left hand in ardhachandra placed on the waist.
- Lord Manmatha (Cupid): Left hand in Shikhara, and right hand in katakamukham, both held at the level of the chest.
- Lord Indra: Tripataka swastika held above the head or near the right shoulder.
- Lord Agni (God of Fire): Right hand in Tripataka and left hand in Kangula.
- Lord Yama (God of Death): Left hand in Tamrachuda and right hand in suchi held horizontally.
- Lord Niruti (God of South West): Right hand in Shakatam and left hand in Khatva.
- Lord Varuna (Rain God): Right hand in Pataka and left hand in Shikhara.
- Lord Vayu (Wind God): Right hand in Arala and left hand in Ardha Pataka.
- Lord Kubera (God of Wealth): Right hand in Mushti (gada or mace on shoulder) and left hand in Padmakosha (lotus).