Why do we do Namaste (Namaskar) in Hinduism? Meaning and Significance


Namaste, Namaskar or Namaskaram is an ancient Indian way of greeting each other in the Indian subcontinent for ages, which is practiced even today. Whereever they are- on the streets, in the house, on public transport, on vacation, or phone, when a Hindu meet any known one or a stranger, they initiate and even end the chat with Namaste. It is for all people young and old, friends and strangers. But, do you know, Why do we do Namaste (Namaskar) in Hinduism? What is the meaning and significance of doing Namaste? Let us understand this here.

The meaning of Namaste:

In Sanskrit, the word is – Namah + te = Namaste which means “I bow to the divine in you”.

'Namah' means my greetings, adoration, or reverential salutations, and ‘te’, connotes ‘to you.' It is a physical action expressing that ‘you are superior to me in all qualities and every respect’. Also, Namaste symbolizes that there is a divine spark in each one’s heart chakra i.e. a salutation of one’s soul by another.

The word Namah can also be interpreted as ‘na ma’ ( not mine) It has the spiritual significance of negating or reducing one’s ego in the presence of another.

How to do Namaste?

Do Prayer pose or make the Anjali Mudra, which is: bending the arms from the elbow upwards and facing the two palms of the hands. Place the fingers pointed upwards and keep the folded palms closely held in front of the chest. Utter the word Namaste and bow the head slightly. The hand position, when higher above one’s head, connotes the utmost respect or reverence.

Why do we do Namaste?

The real meeting between people is the meeting of their minds. When we greet one another with Namaste, it means- ‘may our minds meet.' Further, bowing down the head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love, respect, worship, and humility.

Spiritual Significance of Namaste:

The reason why we do Namaste has a deeper spiritual significance.

1.  It recognizes the belief that the divinity in me as well as in you or all, is the same. Acknowledging this oneness with the meeting of palms, we honor the god in the person we meet.

2.  While doing Namaskar, when one thinks, ‘You are superior to me; I am the subordinate. I do not know anything, you are the master brainy’, only then does it help in reducing the ego and increasing the spiritual emotion of surrender and gratitude.

3.  From the posture (mudra) of Namaskar to Deities or Saints, we receive frequencies of Sattva or Bliss and blessings, emitted by them in a subtle form. When the receiver also complements, it develops a spiritual aura between two souls. Unknowingly their virtues and capabilities are imprinted upon our minds. Consequently, we start following them, thus changing ourselves for the better.

4.  A living body is made of five elements: water, fire, earth, air, and space (Akash, vacuum). By saying Namaste, a person is connected to the earth element and space (Akash) element at once. It then automatically helps connect with all the remaining elements of the body, generating positive vibrations for both persons.

The science behind lack of physical contact in Namaskar:

The Japanese form of greeting- bow and hand wave originated from the Hindu style of namaskar. Physical contact or handshake also has the potential to transmit infections directly between individuals. It is a proven fact that a handshake does transmit pathogens and one simple handshake transfers at least 124 million live organisms on average. 

With the recent upsurge of COVID-19 ( coronavirus outbreak), various preventive measures have played an important role. ‘Namaste’ has been given a lot of importance and recognition worldwide and is being opted as an exceptional measure to avoid contact, maintain hand hygiene, and social distancing towards each other. 

Henceforth, the entire world is taking up the habit of ‘Namaste’. It is one of the best ways to keep infectious agents at bay in the present scenario.

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