‘Namaste’ or ‘namaskar’ is the Hindu/Indian way of greeting each other. People who follow
Vedic/ Hindus way of life, when they meet people they know or strangers with whom they want to initiate a conversation, namaste is the customary courtesy greeting to begin with and often to end with. What makes it special compared to other ways of greeting each other is that It is not a superficial gesture or a mere word.
Namaste According to the Scriptures:
Namaste and its common variant ‘namaskar’, is one of the five forms of formal traditional greeting mentioned in the Vedic scriptures . This is normally understood as prostration but it actually refers to paying homage or showing respect to one another, as is the practice today, when we greet each other.
The Meaning of Namaste:
In Sanskrit the word is namah + te = namaste which means “I bow to you” – my greetings, salutations or prostration to you. The word ‘namaha’ can also be literally interpreted as “na ma” (not mine). It has a spiritual significance of negating or reducing one’s ego in the presence of another. In another way to look at the meaning for Namaste – we can describe it as “ i bow to the Divine in you”
How to Namaste:
Bend the arms from the elbow upwards and face the two palms of the hands. Place the two palms together and keep the folded palms in front of the chest. Utter the word namaste and while saying the word bow the head slightly.
Namaste could be just a casual or formal greeting, a cultural convention or an act of worship.
However, there is much more to it than meets the eye. The real meeting between people is the meeting of their minds. When we greet one another with namaste, it means, ‘may our minds meet’, indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The bowing down of the head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love, respect and humility.
A few line from an old poem where the poet describes the act of namaste in a beautiful way.
He says… your and mine eyes meet… the mouth opens and we smile… we bow to each other and the 72000 nadis are delighted.
Spiritual Significance of Namaste:
The reason why we do namaste has a deeper spiritual significance. It recognises the belief that the life force, the divinity, the Self or the God in me is the same in all. Acknowledging this oneness with the meeting of the palms, we honour the god/divine in the person we meet.
Article By Gyanmitra Saraswati. Copyright 2015 SWAN Yoga Retreat, Assagao, Goa, India