The Meaning of Namaste

The Meaning of Namaste

The Meaning of Namaste

Namaste, the Indian way of greeting with folded hands, is beautiful and the most respectful and meaningful.

In the simplest terms, Namaste comes from the Sanskrit words “Namah,” meaning bow or pray, and “te,” which means “to you.” However, who one is bowing to has a much deeper meaning. 

Hindus believe in one Supreme Reality, Brahman, the one who is omniscient and omnipresent. Therefore, if Brahman is omnipresent, He would be present in you and me as well. According to Vedanta, our real Self is Brahman Himself. Therefore, when we say Namaste, we acknowledge the presence of the Divine in the person we meet. 

The gesture of Namaste is used while praying as well. After all, the God in the temple is the same that resides within you and me.

Namaskara and Namaskaram are variations of Namaste used in different parts of India. 

Namaste is also considered the simplest form of Yoga. Not surprisingly, it is the first pose in the Surya Namaskar Yoga asana sequence. When you put your hands together in Namaste, it brings harmony between the two polarities within you.

Those on the spiritual path are very conscious of accumulating karma. For example, sometimes the person in front of you might arouse likes or dislikes. Such feelings set a karmic pattern of craving and aversion in motion. When you greet the person with a Namaste, you see only the Divinity within that person. You ensure that you do not get entangled with yet another body through physical contact, generating karma. Collecting more karma creates a hindrance in the path to liberation. 

A physical touch that comes with handshakes and kisses became taboo with the onset of the pandemic in 2020. As a result, people hesitated to shake hands when they met someone. Eventually, and very awkwardly, elbow bumps replaced the traditional handshake to minimize contamination with the virus. Since the tradition of Namaste has been a safe way of greeting for thousands of years, many people started using the more respectful way of Namaste instead of using elbow or ankle bumps.