The Complex Meaning of Namaste


Namaste Readers!

The word ‘Namaste’ has lot of prominence in Hinduism. It is pronounced as Na-Ma-Stay. It is a symbol of modesty and humility.

In the Hindu religion, people mutually exchange greetings or salutations with ‘Namaste’.This form of exchanging greetings is done by bringing the two palms together to the chest level and by bowing the head while saying the word ‘Namaste’. Besides a form of greeting, Namaste is an act of worship in the Hindu religion such as ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. It means”I bow to Lord Shiva”. In Sanskrit language, “Namaste”(namah + te =namste) means “I bow to you”.

Namaste could be derived from ‘Namah’ or ‘Namasya’. ‘Ma’ in nama means spiritual death, and when this is negated (na-ma), signifies immortality. Namaste is considered as a means for negating mutual ego and extending friendship. Namaste also helps the meeting of minds between people,which signifies the real meeting between them. It is also said that joining of the two palms is an indication of harmony between our thoughts and action (karma).

The spiritual meaning of Namaste is profane.

Particularly in Hinduism, Gods are worshiped by closing the eyes and joining the palms in reverence, which indicates the recognition of their divinity. The joining of the palms denotes the meeting of two extremities-the feet of the Divine (right palm), with the head of the devotee (left palm).

Namaste is also associated with the institution of marriage for the Hindus.

It indicates a new beginning and the union of the male and female elements of nature. It can be best explained with the ‘Ardhanarishvara’ form of Lord Shiva. ‘Ardhanarishvara’ is best translated as “the lord who is half women”. In this form Shiva has his beloved wife Parvati engrafted in him, which signifies the love and devotion between them. This form also helps in bringing harmony to their natures. Parvati neutralizes Shiva’s destructive urge created during a dance form called ‘Tandava’.On the contrary, ‘Lasya’, the gentle dance form of the Goddess Parvati brings rebirth and creation. Thus, Namaste signifies the importance of a perfect marriage.

In the West Namaste is largely believed to be a type of Yogic practice.

Sources include:

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