The gesture Namaste or Namaskar represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. This gesture is an acknowledgment berween two souls.Indians greet each other by saying namaste. Their palms are placed together in front of the chest and their head bows whilst saying the word namaste. This greeting is for all – people,of all age groups,genders,caste,color,even strangers and us.
There are five forms of formal traditional greeting which are written in our shaastras of which namaskaram is one. This is understood as a prostration but is actually paying homage or respect to anyone and everyone.
Namaste, pronounced ‘na-ma-stay’, is both a Hindi and a Nepali word. It is said in India and Nepal as a salutation, just as one would say “hello” or “goodbye” in the United Sates. The word Namaste is derived from Sanskrit language. Namaste could be just a casual or a formal greeting, a cultural convention or an act of worship. However there is much more to Namaste.
Literal Meaning of Namaste: In Sanskrit, namah + te = Namaste. It means – I bow to you – my greetings, salutations or prostration to you. Here ‘you’ is not your body but the consciousness within you.
Mythological Meaning of Namaste: Namaha is also interpreted as “na ma” (not mine). It has a spiritual significance of negating or reducing one’s ego in the presence of another. This interpretation has nothing to do with the Sanskrit translation.When we greet one another, we do so with namaste, which means, “may our minds meet“. The gesture is widely used throughout India, Nepal, Bangladesh, parts of Asia and beyond where people of South and Southeast Asian origins have migrated. Namaskar is also a part of the 16 upacharas used inside temples or any place of formal Puja (worship). It expresses politeness, courtesy, honor, and hospitality from one person to another. It is used in goodbyes as well. This is sometimes expressed, in ancient Hindu scriptures such as Taittiriya Upanishad, as Atithi Devo Bhav (meaning, guest is god).
Spiritual Meaning of Namaste: The real meeting between people is the meeting of their minds. When we greet another, we do so with Namaste, which means, “may our minds meet“. The bowing down of our head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love and humility. Namaste is similar to the word Namaskar.
(NAMAH + OM + KAR)
Namah means we bow to you, OM signifies consciousness and KAR means shape or form.
OMKAR therefore signifies manifestation of OM, the UNIVERSE or the cosmos.
In Namaskar there is no mention of “te” as in Namaste. Namaskar signifies that I bow to the consciousness present in you
Namaste vs. Namaskar
On a more literal note, namah means “salutation“, and te means “to you.”
Put it together, and namaste becomes “salutation to you“
Namah means “salutation“ and kaara means “doing“
Put it together and namaskar becomes to “I pay my Salutations.“
There are many theories behind which word should be used and when. One most clearly understand that namaskar, is used for greeting multiple people while namaste is used to greet an individual with a personal divine greeting.
How to make the Namaste Gesture ?
To perform Namaste, we place our hands together at the heart chakra, close our eyes, and bow down our head. Namaste can also be done by placing your hands together in front of your third eye, bowing your head, and then bringing your hands down to your heart. This is an especially deep form of respect.
Although in the West the word “namaste” is usually spoken in conjunction with the gesture, in India, it is understood that the gesture itself signifies Namaste, and therefore, it is unnecessary to say the word while bowing.
We bring our hands together at the heart chakra to increase the flow of Divine love within our body. Bowing your head and closing your eyes helps your mind in surrendering to the Divine in your heart. One can do Namaste to himself as a meditation technique to go deeper inside his heart chakra.
[ LEARN MORE ABOUT : CHAKRA SHUDDHI ]
What is Namaste for a Teacher / Guru and his Student ?
Namaste allows a teacher and a student, to come together in oneness creating a connection and a sense of timelessness between the two, free from any bonds or ego-connection.If you say Namaste directly from your heart and mind,a deep union of spirits can blossom with you as well as around you.
Spirituality Behind Namaste
Namaste has a deeper spiritual significance as well. Namaste is based on the belief that the life force, the divinity, the Self, or the God in me is the same in all.
Acknowledging this oneness and equality with joined palms, we honor the god in every person we meet. During prayers, Hindus start with Namaste, but they also bow down and close their eyes, in an attempt to have a vision of their inner spirit. Namaste is quite common when two devout Hindus meet. It indicates a recognition of the divinity within ourselves and extends a warm welcome to the other person.
The Namaste gesture is often accompanied by words like
- “Ram Ram”
- “Jai Shri Krishna”
- “Namo Narayana”
- “Jai Siya Ram”
- “Om Shanti”, etc.
to indicate the recognition of our divinity. As soon as we realize this significance, our greeting is no longer just a superficial gesture or word but creates a path for deeper communion with one another in an atmosphere of love and respect.
When joined in unison, each palm represents a separate individuality. Each palm supports all the five fingers of your hand. Similarly, our personality has five sheaths called the five koshas. The five different parts of our personality are called panchakoshas, or five sheaths.They are:
 Annamayakosa – Food Sheath
 Pranamayakosa – Vital-Air Sheath
 Manomayakosa – Mental Sheath,
 Vijnanamayakosa – Intellectual Sheath
 Anandamayakosa – Bliss Sheath.
These five sheaths are supported by our Atman, the supreme Self which is the eternal Reality of this universe. These five sheaths are different from individual to individual but the Reality that supports them all is one and the same for all individualities. This truth is declared when Hindus greet each other with namaskara. Our two palms joined together as one, indicate that Reality or Atman in our hands is one and the same.Hindus bow their heads to this unifying Infinite Atman while saying namaste.
Namaste in Different Cultures
There are different ways of doing namaste or greeting each other in other langues prevalent in India.
- Telugu : In Telugu, this gesture is known as Namaskaramulu or simply Namaskaram.
- Tamil : In Tamil, it is known as kumbidu, (கும்பிடு).Kumbu literally means ‘to cup hands‘ and idu means ‘to do’. Vanakkam, (வணக்கம்) in Tamil too, means the same.It is derived from the root word vanangu (வணங்கு) meaning to bow or to greet.
- Kannada : In Kannada, the gesture is known as Namaskara.
- Japan : In Japan, the Namaste hand gesture is used in prayer and healing sessions.It is referred to Gassho.
- Sri Lanka : Namaste is a vogue in Sri Lanka.
- Sikhs : Sikhs also fold their hand in Namaste, but their greeting words are Sat Sri Akal.
- Nepal : Nepalese generally use Namaskar for greeting and respecting their elders.
- Orissa/Odisha : In Odia namaste is also known as ନମସ୍କାର (namaskār)
- Andhra Pradesh : In Telugu, Namaste is also known as Dandamu (దండము) or namaskaram (నమస్కారం) for singular and Dandaalu or namaskaralu for plural form. Pranamamu (ప్రణామము) is also used in formal Telugu.
- West Bengal : In Bengali, the Namaste gesture is expressed as Nōmōshkar (নমস্কার), and said as Prōnäm (Bengali: প্রণাম) informally.
- Assam : In Assamese, Nômôskar (নমস্কাৰ) is used.
Another Way of Greeting
Another way of greeting, common in India is pranam or charana-sparsh, the touching of an elder’s feet. It is an act of showing respect to our elders. At a young age, children touch the feet of all the elders in the family.People of all ages bend to touch the feet of a great guru, murti or icon of a God or goddess.
Transformations Namaste Can Bring in Your Life !
Below are a few interpretations of “Namaste” that can positively transform your life.
1) “Your Spirit and My Spirit are One” – If we acknowledge our oneness with Namaste, it is easy to treat people with the respect that they deserve.
2) “All that is positive and best in me salutes everything that is positive and best in you.” – Wouldn’t it be amazing to focus on the positive and the best in everyone? This will mean less gossip, less judgment and more compassion. Simply reacting to what someone is saying, may hurt us or trigger a negative response in us.We have the option of focusing on the bigger picture of life.Our reaction can change the course of any interaction.
3) “I honor a place in you, where the entire Universe dwells, I honor a place in you which is full of Love, Truth, Light and Peace. When you have found that place in you, and I have found that place in me, We are One” – There is a divine place in all of us where love, truth, light and peace dwell. If we could locate these parts in ourselves and in others, we would be authentically saying “Namaste.”
Points to Remember the Next Time you say Namaste
It is important to create a ring of spiritual connection while saying namaste to anyone. The positive energy exuded creates an auric field of positive spiritual power. One must Only say namas to signify positivity.
Second, the lack of physical contact is what creates a positive aura. If a non-physical contact is made, the chances of overcoming negativity increases.
Last but not least, remember to place your fingertips softly together and simply graze at the fingertip pattern, shape, and texture.
Namaste is a thank you to the world created around us. The “divine in me honors the divine in you” references to the spiritual transfers of the word.It is upon you to honor an individual who is graced by your presence.