When Rajinikanth took to the stage on the last day of 2017, there was anticipation. Finally, he announced that he is set to enter politics. It became the red-letter day in Tamil Nadu politics. While the audience kept cheering, the superstar raised his right hand and made a gesture. Rajinikanth’s index finger and the little finger were upright and the thumb was clasped against the two middle fingers. Rajinikanth instantly turned into a rockstar, doing the all famous ‘hand horn’.
Incidentally, this wasn’t followed by growling and headbanging. This wasn’t a rock concert after all.
Thalaiva’s hand gesture also became the symbol of his party. But, wait a minute. The superstar wasn’t trying to imitate Ronnie James Dio, the American rock singer who made the sign popular. This was the actor turned politician’s own symbol—one that apparently is very close to his heart.
Rajinikanth has never shied away from showing his spiritual side. Over the years, he has had several spiritual gurus and is said to have been influenced by Sri Guru Babaji (popularly known as Mahavatar Babaji, with whom this symbol is also said to be associated) and Sri Raghavendrar.
Last year, when Rajini met his fans after eight long years, he declared, I don’t support any political party.” The superstar sat there in a black kurta. In the background, there was that unmissable hand symbol emerging from a lotus.
The yogic hand symbol, called the ‘Apana mudra’, is a reflection of the actor’s spiritual and yogic leanings. And, that may tell a lot about what his politics can be like.
A Quora user tried to explain the meaning behind the hasta mudra.
“It is said that each finger represents five forces of nature. Thumb represents fire, the index finger represents air, the middle one represents space, the ring finger represents Earth, and the little finger represents water. Combination of these fingers produces different results. And it improves one’s concentration.”
In fact, Rajini is such a big fan of the mudra that he had made a movie on it in 2002. In the film posters of ‘Baba’, the actor is seen with a cigarette tucked in between his lips, while he does the ‘Apana mudra’. The movie ‘Baba’ is the story of an atheist who always questions the higher power. A turn of events bestows Baba with divine powers and he takes it as an opportunity to help the people in his state. It didn’t quite become a success, but the movie’s message could also be translated to Rajinikanth’s political message.
“We should bring a spiritual-political government which is honest and free of caste politics. This is my aim,” the 67-year-old said while announcing his entry into politics.
The mudra, which has been practiced for decades, reportedly decreases the chance of ailments caused by the fire and pitta elements of the body – effectively meaning waste and toxins. Various fan blogs on Rajini say that the superstar practices it whenever he is idle.
In fact, the iconic sign that you will spot in any metal concert has a very similar meaning.
While many have misinterpreted as a sign of allegiance to the devil-- because the shape of the fingers-- have been associated with 666, the number of the beast, there’s more to it.
Dio, the American rock singer who made it popular, was taught the so-called “corna sign” by his Italian grandmother, as a way to scare off the "evil eye”. It gradually went on to become just another ‘cool’ gesture at rock parties.
Rajinikanth, obviously, need not pretend to be ‘cool’ or a metal head. He’s got the fans. And he knows how to get them too.