Somanathapura Keshava Temple: Ashtabhuja Vishnu

Ashtabhuja (8-Armed) Vishnu carved on the outer wall of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Ashtabhuja (8-Armed) Vishnu carved on the outer wall of the south garbhagriha

Ashtabhuja (8-Armed) Vishnu
The image shows a sculptural relief of Vishnu carved on the outer wall of the south garbhagriha (inner sanctum) of the Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India. Carvings of Vishnu with standard iconography depict him with four arms, but this relief has eight of them, two of which are missing.

Besides his signature objects, shanka (conch), and padma (lotus), Vishnu is holding a beautifully carved dhanush (bow) and a bāna (arrow) with his left and right hands, respectively. The two missing hands at the bottom likely carried his other signature objects, chakra (a disc-like weapon) and gadā (mace).

Notice that Vishnu’s two hands in front do not carry any objects. They do, however, make specific gestures, known as mudras. In Hinduism and Buddhism, each mudra has a name and meaning and symbolizes the state of mind and intentions of the person making it.

As you can see from the image, the palm of one of Vishnu’s right hands is upright and faces outwards. This gesture is known as Abhaya Mudra, which symbolizes fearlessness and reassurance. The palm of one of his left hands faces upwards, with the fingers slightly pointing downwards. This gesture is known as Vara Mudra (a.k.a Varada Mudra), which symbolizes charity and compassion.

As with the other Vishnu sculptures, he is standing on a padma peeta (lotus pedestal) accompanied by two small female figures located at the bottom.

Check the other Ashtabhuja Vishnu sculptures:
Ashtabhuja Vishnu in Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Ashtabhuja Vishnu in Cave – 3 of Rock-cut cave temples of Badami in Karnataka, India

Related Pages
Hoysala Temples:
Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Badami Chalukya Temples:
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
Durga Temple at Aihole
Vijayanagara Temples:
Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals
Angkor Wat Temples:
Angkor Wat Temple, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Banteay Srei Temple in Cambodia

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