Mudra 3: Arda Pathaka

The exact translation of this mudra is half-flag. I am not sure that this is the same as flying a flag at half-mast to allow “the invisible flag of death” to fly at the top of the mast, but the significance to death’s presence, power, and prominence cannot be ignored as everything that lives must also die. It reminds me of the importance for us to have virtous thoughts while passing to the other side and to help those passing around us to find calm, quiet, and strength. May practice prepare us. My favorite usage of this mudra is to show the banks of river Yamuna, where Krishna hides the clothes of a gopi (milk maid) who is bathing in the river. Interestingly, Yamuna is the daughter of the Sun God, Surya and sister to Yama, Death. It is said that bathing in Yamuna, who is a holder of infinite love and compassion, can free one from the torments of the relm of her brother, death. Arda Pataka is also used to show the leaf panels that were used to write the Vedas when finally they were transferred to written form as well as to represent a knife or dagger and in our modern times I see many people use this mudra to also indicate a gun.

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