Eleven heads and one thousand arms
Image worship crept almost imperceptibly into Indian religions and was not only finally sanctioned in the religious scriptures but the images themselves, and the rituals for their worship were also described in greater detail. One of the results of this process, more especially the merging of two or more deities, was that some of the gods were shown as having several qualities. The visual problem that this created for the sculptor or artist when he made images of the gods was solved by Showing them with several arms. Each hand would hold some object which would symbolize or represent the various qualities of that particular deity. Some of the hands would be empty but the position of the fingers and the palms would signify the character of that god. For example, if the fingers are pointing towards the ground, it means that the god is of a charitable whereas the fingers pointing upwards, as in a blessing, signify a protector (see illustration). These gestures mudras symbolized their individual powers and differentiated them from other deities.