Difference Between Pranama and Namaskara

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pranama

Out of all the religions in the world, Hinduism is known as the oldest religion to have namaskarintroduced and practiced, Pranama, a ‘respectful salutation’ before elders, other living beings and deities. According to the Indian culture,it is our duty to revere and respect the soul inside everybody, since we believe that, ‘God Resides in Every Living Thing’Pranama stands for: ‘Pra’ means in front of or before, and ‘Nama’ means bending or stretching. Combined together pranama means ‘reverentially bowing’ before others, as a gesture of respect.With changing times, Hindus have changed this gesture of reverence.People back in ancient times performed Ashtanga and Sashtanga for their deities, gurus, parents and elderly.The culture and traditions have undergone major changes in the 21st century.Hindus have now shifted From Pranama to a comforting Namaskara. In most Indian families, younger men and women are taught to seek blessings of their elders by reverentially bowing to their elders. This custom is known as pranama.

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Pranama

Namaskara

namaskar

Pranama (Sanskrit ‘Pra’ and ‘Anama’) is a respectful salutation among Hindus. It literally means “bowing forward” in reverence for a deity or an elder. Namaste is a general greeting in Hindi that you say when you meet someone.
Both Namaste and Pranaam are said with folded hands, but pranaam indicates a greater reverence and respect for the person in front of you.  Namaste is usually spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest.
In Sanskrit, ‘Pra’ means in front of or before, and ‘Nama’ means bending or stretching. Combined together pranama means ‘reverentially bowing’ before others, as a gesture of respect  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.
 Requires More Human Effort Requires Less Human Effort
In layman terms Pranam means to touch someone feet in respect Namaskar means to join your hands in respect
 It is mentioned in Upanishads that women were forbidden from doing Ashtanga, which required them not to touch the ground in reverence with their chest and womb, because a woman’s womb and chest were considered very sensitive and even the slightest muscle pull could disturb their maternity.  Namaskar can be done by both men as well as women.It has no repercussions or problems associated with it.
 Pranama often has no reply. Pranam is never answered by saying Pranam back. Namaskar is a greeting and has an adrupt reply. It is answered by saying Namaskar or Namaste.
 As such Pranam should always be done by younger ones to elders.In return the elders should give blessings. Namaskar is used as a greeting for people of all age groups.

namaskar

In most Indian families, younger men and women are taught to seek blessings of their elders by reverentially bowing to their elders. This custom is known as pranama.


There are six types of Pranamas,they are:

  1. Ashtanga अष्टाङ्ग (Ashta=Eight; Anga=Body parts): Touching the ground with knees, belly, chest, hands, elbows, chin, nose, and temple.
  2. Shastanga षष्ठाङ्ग (Shashta=Six; Anga=Body parts): Touching the ground with toes, knees, hands, chin, nose, and temple.
  3. Panchanga पञ्चाङ्ग (Pancha=Five; Anga=Body parts): Touching the ground with knees, chest, chin, temple, and forehead.
  4. Dandavat दण्डवत् (Dand=Stick): Bowing your forehead down and touching the ground.
  5. Abhinandana अभिनन्दन (Congratulations to you): Bending forward with folded hands touching the chest.
  6. Namaskar नमस्कार (Bowing to you). The same as doing a Namaste with folded hands and touching the forehead.pranama
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