Why do we do Namaste ?

Discussion in 'Chitvish on Hindu Culture & Vedanta' started by Chitvish, Oct 26, 2006.

  1. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Namaste is the traditional Indian form of salutation. This is a very graceful and modest form of greeting. It is also a greeting with deep spiritual and symbolic significance. It means
    “ I honour in you the divine, that I honour within myself and I know we are one”.

    When a Hindu meets a friend or acquaintance, or when introduced to a new person, he or she greets the person with palms joined together in front of the chest and says “Namaste” or “Namaskarah”. Some even bend slightly before saying these words. The joining of the palms shows the oneness of the people. The two hands though different belongs to the same person. Similarly the two persons belong to the same source, the Lord. So he or she looks upon the other person as non-separate from oneself and this is a Vedic vision.

    Namaste is also known by the beautiful term “ anjali”. Joining the two palms also means that we are attempting to synchronise our straying thoughts. Since the heart is compared to a lotus bud, this anjali symbolically represents the beautiful thoughts arising from the heart.

    We always use this method to greet people, younger than us, of our own age, those who are elder to us, friends and sometimes even strangers. It can be a casual or a formal greeting.

    The word namaste can be interpreted in 2 ways.

    First is namasya (namaha) + te, which means obeisance to you.
    I bow to you or greet you is the literal meaning. But the deeper meaning is, I am aware of the Lord residing in you and also aware that the same Lord resides in me. Both are one and the same and deserve namaskara. Accepting this oneness is the deeper meaning.

    Second is na + ma + te
    The word nama is split into two: naand ma. Na signifies negation and ma represents mine. The meaning would then be 'not mine'. The import being that the individual soul belongs entirely to the Supreme soul, which is identified as residing in the individual towards whom the namaste is directed. Indeed there is nothing that the soul can claim as its own. Namaste is thus the necessary rejection of "I" (ego) and the associated phenomena of egotism. We also mean “ may our minds meet “, by folding the palms and placing them before the chest. We also bow our heads in a sign of humility and graciousness.

    When we do this in the temple or in the prayer room, we close our eyes, as if to look within. We develop communion with God.
    So namaste is not a superficial gesture, but almost a communication of love and respect to the other person.

    Finally, the gesture of namaste is unique also in the sense that its physical performance is accompanied by a verbal utterance of the word "namaste." This practice is equivalent to the chanting of a mantra. The sonority of the sacred sound 'namaste' is believed to have a quasi-magical value, corresponding to a creative energy change. This transformation is that of aligning oneself in harmony with the vibration of the cosmos itself. Thus this is both a spoken greeting and a gesture, a Mantra and a Mudra. The prayerful hand position is called Anjali, meaning "to honour. "
    Simply put, namaste means the following:
    The God in me greets the God in you
    The Spirit in me meets the same Spirit in you.
    In other words, it recognizes the equality of all, and pays honour to the sacredness of all.

    Love & regards,
    Chithra.








     
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  2. safa

    safa Bronze IL'ite

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    Namaskaram!

    Good morning Chithra,
    It is interesting..Many can understand the purpose of joining hands like a lotus bud..So I could inform my friends too..
    love you,
    Seena.
     
  3. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Namaste, Seena !

    Thankyou very much for the prompt feed back !
    Well, that is my young friend Safa !!
    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
  4. Priya Amarnath

    Priya Amarnath Bronze IL'ite

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    beautiful

    My dear Chithra

    With your beautiful writting style you have conveyed the importance of Namaskarm, in a simple way. Thanking you for yet another wonderful piece.

    Love and regards
    Priya
     
  5. meenaprakash

    meenaprakash Silver IL'ite

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    wonderful post

    Dear Chitra,

    that's too good an insight into the word, Namaste. I always felt its a beautiful gesture but never knew the significance. This also reminds me of the japanese way of greeting. once we had a bunch of japanese visiting our office & we were taught how to greet them - the bowing techniques & handing visiting cards, etc. I think japanese are very serious about their culture.

    thanks for sharing this wonderful post.

    Love & regards,
     
  6. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Namaste, Priya !

    You have always a very nice word for me, Priya - I cannot thank you enough !
    Now, remember, I will say namaste first, when we meet !!??
    Thankyou for the F B , Priya !
    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
  7. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Namaste, Meena !

    Over the years, we have inadvertantly changed over to the "hand shake " & "hi" culture.
    But still, namste has its own grace & charm !
    Thankyou for the prompt F B .
    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
  8. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

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    Namaste Chitra,

    That was a lovely post. But we here are always doing this....i learnt to feel proud about this act and the meaning behind it only after i came here. All my german friends, acquaintances, consciously do this when they meet me.....or write emails to me also. I ,coming from India had changed to saying Hi or Hello and shaking hands too, but they are so fascinated by this custom of addressing people that , now i also only do this when i meet anyone....no more shaking hands. And since i am supposedly in the cultural field, i get the oppotunity to explain the meaning also, which again reinforces my belief and faith in my religion and its practises.
    Thanks for this post, i feel good about this here , in our IL site, ....and you gave me an oppotunity to share this feeling with you all!
     
  9. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Namaste, Sudha, my dancer-friend !

    Since you are a dancer, you must be doing it more beautifully like a mudra !
    But now, in Chennai, even if we do namaste with our hands, we always say "namaskaram" - that sounds more apt.
    I am glad, though living abroad, you practise this socially as well.
    Thanks for the F B, Sudha !
    Love & regards,
    Chithra.
     
  10. meenu

    meenu Bronze IL'ite

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    Shouldn't I say Namaste too?

    Dear Chith,
    Vanakkam!I clean forgot today is thursday and your post was a pleasant reminder.The idenification of one's soul as not different from the other's is the highlight of todays post.In tamilnadu we often greet each other by saying namaskaram and the magic word instantly puts each other at ease. It is indeed a manthra,
    Thank you for an enjoyable post on a gloomy rainy day.
    God be with you,dear Chith
    Regards,
    Meenu
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2006

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