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This wiki article describes AjanubAhu as

a person, whose length of arms is so that his finger touch his knee

It also claims that many Hindu Gods, saints, kings or great warriors are AjanubAhu.

Is there any deeper spiritual significance to this term?

  • Rama is described as having his arms extend to his knees in Valmiki Ramayana, and also in Rama Raksha Stotram I asked a Question related to it here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/11217/… – AADHinduism May 23 '16 at 15:14
  • The form of Shri hari vishnu and all of his avatars have a lengthy arms which extend upto their feet. The Ajanbahu is considered ausipicious although I don't have any scriptures to support me on the auspiciousness of ajanbahu. – Yogi May 23 '16 at 15:35
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Ajanubahu is a person who hands are long that it reaches the knees of that person when that person stands.

I believe "Ajanubahu" explains a great personality of extraordinary people physical appearance and this is the deeper meaning in this word.

जानु = knee | बाहु = arm | आजानुबाहु = one whose arms reach up-to his knees

Shri Rama is also called Ajanubahu, since his arms reached upto his knees.

Sri Rama’s limbs have come for description often – Ajanabahu. The Ramayana describes Sri Rama in a verse thus:

Sri raghavam dasarathatmajamaprameyam

sitapatim raghukulanvaya ratna dipam

ajanubahu - araivinda dalayataksham

ramam nisachara vinasakaram namami

Another story in the Mahabharata says when Uttara, Abhimanyu’s wife was with child, and Ashwattama sought to kill the foetus, it was Krishna’s mercy and divine intervention that saved the baby. There in the womb, yet-to-be-born Parikshit (originally christened as Vishnudatta – gift of Vishnu) saw the divine form of the Lord, golden hued and with arms so long that reached his knees.

All these naamas (Pleasant) starting from Suvrana (Gold) are a glorification of the beauty of Bhagavan (God), as having beautiful limbs that are pleasing to the eyes as well as which perform actions that are beautiful/pleasing.

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Sage Narada describes Sri Raama to be having knee-length arms, in Baala Kanda.

महोरस्को महेष्वासो गूढजत्रुररिन्दमः | आजानुबाहुः सुशिराः सुललाटः सुविक्रमः || १-१-१०

"He is lion-chested, with concealed collarbones, knee-length are his arms, and his is a long bow, an enemy-subjugator, and his emperor's countenance is with a crowning-head and an ample forehead, and his gait is majestic like that of a lion..

However, this concept of knee-length arms was not continued in subsequent Sargas of Ramayana.

Be it Sri Raama or Ravana or Dasaratha, or someone else, Sage Valmiki describes him to be as having strong/long arms - महाबाहु or दीर्घ बाहू

विपुल अंसो महाबाहुः कम्बु ग्रीवः शुभ आननः | गूढ जत्रुः सुताम्र अक्षो रामो देवि जनैः श्रुतः || ५-३५-१५

"O princess! Rama is a broad shouldered and a long-armed man. He has a shell-like neck. He has a handsome countenance. He has a hidden collar-bone. He has beautiful red eyes. His fame is heard about by people."

दीर्घ बाहू विशालाक्षौ शर चाप असि धारिणौ | कस्य न स्यात् भयम् दृष्ट्वा हि एतौ सुर सुत उपमौ || ४-२-२०

"Lengthy are their arms, broad are their eyes and they are the wielders of arrows, bows and swords... and on seeing them, to whom there will be no scare? These two are like the sons of some divinity..." Sugreeva thus spoke to Hanuma.

रावणोऽयम् महाबाहुरिति संचिन्त्य वानरः | अवप्लुतो महातेजा हनुमान्मारुतात्मजः || ५-१८-३०

The son of god of wind Vanara Hanuma of great brilliance thinking thus "This long armed one is Ravana", jumped down.

So the concept of आजानुबाहुः - knee-length arms, was not that of Sage Valmiki. As Sargas 1 to 4 of Bala Kanda are interpolations, the concept of आजानुबाहुः - knee-length arms must be a subsequent development.


However, the concept of आजानुबाहुः - knee-length arms is not without base. Very rarely , we will come across persons with आजानुबाहुः .

Some persons with Divine nature may have knee-length arms.

I had personally visited Akkalkot, Maharashtra. There I saw the blow up photo of Sri Swami Samarth. He was आजानुबाहुः - had knee-length arms.

enter image description here

  • This answer only explains what ājānubāhu means and how it is used in Ramayana and elsewhere. It doesn't explain the symbolism behind the usage which is what OP is looking for. – sv. Jun 25 at 19:06
  • I had mentioned in my answer "Some persons with Divine nature may have knee-length arms"-. By the way you did not post the same question under the anewer of @CR241? May I know why? @sv. – srimannarayana k v Jun 25 at 20:18
  • 'Some persons with Divine nature may have knee-length arms' - I missed this line. The other answer is also just speculating. However, it concludes/explains the symbolism with: "All these naamas (Pleasant) starting from Suvarna (Gold) are a glorification of the beauty of Bhagavan (God), as having beautiful limbs that are pleasing to the eyes as well as which perform actions that are beautiful/pleasing." BTW, having unusually long arms appears to be a genetic disorder called Marfan syndrome. – sv. Jun 25 at 21:26
  • Contrary to the symptoms of Marfan syndrome, Sri Swami Samartha was stout and tall. He was very old also and lived without any medication :-). Anyways, thanks for enlightening me on Marfan syndrome.@sv. – srimannarayana k v Jun 26 at 1:50
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    You should add explanation to the significance or symbolism behind a divine person having Aajanabahu which is the question asked. – Paṇḍyā Jun 26 at 4:19

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