What does namaste mean
‘Namaste’ or ‘namaskaram’ is a time-honored Indian gesture, expressing mutual respect during meeting and parting. It is a friendly act performed with your palms pressed against each other with the fingers pointing upwards, placed close to your heart and your head slightly bowed. The gesture is a graceful way of greeting and valediction without stepping in the personal space of the fellow being, preserving the very essence of the Indian tradition. In Yoga and few ancient dance forms the particular gesture is termed as the ‘Abhinandnam mudra’ which conveys the same meaning without pronouncing the word. According to Vedas it is one of the five forms of greeting and showing respect to other human being.
Owing its origin to the Sanskrit language the word ‘Namaste’ is a blend of two words ‘namah’ meaning reverential bowing, showing respect, obeisance and ‘te’, a derivative of ‘tvam’ signifying ‘you’ in Sanskrit. ‘Namaste’ accordingly denote ‘I bow to you’. ‘Te’ is also suggested to be a derivative of ‘astu’ or ‘astitve’ explicitly the existence of a being. ‘Namaste’ in this reference connote to respecting and acknowledging the presence of the fellow being. It beautifully conveys ‘the divinity in me bows to the divinity in you’. ‘Namaste’ also literally represent ‘na ma’ i.e. ‘not mine’. In this implication it has a spiritual undercurrent enhancing the respect for the entity of the other at the same time negating one’s own ego.
‘Namaste’ is not an ordinary greeting like ‘Hello’ or ‘How do you do’, asking about the well being of the other but has deep and compelling psycho-spiritual import. It conveys the message of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumkam’ i.e. the entire human race is a big family. Every human is a part of God and has a divine spark within. Wishing ‘Namaste’ would mean paying homage to the divine spark inside the fellow being. It allows one to perceive and connect to the soul of the other instead of mere superficial exchanges. According to the ‘Yoga’ belief the soul or the divine spark exists inside the ‘heart chakra’ and when we fold our hands near heart it enhances the flow of divine love. By folding hands and bowing our head we surrender to the divine almighty. The gesture when done for self is a meditation technique allowing you to explore your heart chakra and when performed for others, is a succinct meditation.
The Yogic wisdom also suggests the folding of hands also units the positive and negative polarity in the body balancing it within the heart which is the strongest source of electrical energy in body. It connects your right and left hemisphere with your heart forming a complete loop of energy.
Besides being the most common and revered form of greeting amongst all social strata in India ‘Namaste’ commands similar influences in Sindh (Pakistan), Srilanka (as a symbol of hospitality andNepal( as a symbol of respect for elders and upper strata) as well.