Namaste – Meaning and Spiritual Significance of Namaskar

Namaste is a Sanskrit word for a respectful salutation performed by joining two palms together. Namaste means “I bow before you” or “the God who dwells in me salutes the God who dwells in you.”

Namaste is a gesture of reverence, gratitude, and respect toward another. In recent days in the West, Namaste has become more popular due to the rise of Yoga in the western world.

According to Indian, Nepalese, and Buddhist cultures, Namaste shows respect and goodwill towards others. This gesture is used in everyday life when saying hello or goodbye, during worship, in prayers, and in spiritual practices. It is also an expression of one of the most commonly used mudras in Hatha Yoga.

Let us explain everything you need to know about namaste and its spiritual significance below,

Namaste or Namaskar

Namaste Meaning

Depending on the context, Namaste can have different meanings, among which are the following: “I bow to you with reverence,” “I honor your divine essence,” “I humbly bow to God in you,” and “I welcome the radiance of the divine light in you,” “I express gratitude to you.”

In Vedic Literature, Namaste is a combination of “Namah” + “Te.” Thus, the word Namah takes the form of Sandhi. It is the combination of “Namah” – ‘bow, worship, reverence,’ ‘greeting with a bow’ and ‘te‘- a pronoun in the second person and dative case: ‘you.’

There is another version of the Namaste translation: “not for me, but for you” this message reflects the main essence of Karma Yoga as selfless service when an act is performed for the benefit of others, without selfish motivation.

Namaste is equivalent to “Namu” in the Buddhist “Namu Amida Butsu.” In addition, this “Nanmu” means “Kie” in the Buddhist language, which means to believe in God, Buddha, and high priests and rely on them physically and mentally. The idea that everyone has a god in humans means giving thanks and salutes to the god who is in each human being.

How to do Namaste?

Generally, most people speak and join both palms at once to do Namaste. But, to do Namaste in a proper way, you should first join both palms close to your heart chakra (Chest area), finger-pointing upwards, and bow your head down by pronouncing Namaste.

Namaste is a combination of "Namah" + "Te."

How to Pronounce Namaste?

  • Na Mas Tey
  • Na Mah Stay (Short “S” sound)

Spiritual Meaning of Namaste

The term Namaste not only opens the way for one soul to meet another but also signifies the union of two energies. According to scholars of Spirituality, a person’s right hand is more linked to faith, while the left hand is more linked to thought. By joining the two hands, these two forces unite.

In Yoga, namaste also symbolizes the union of Sun and Moon energy. When you bring your palms together to perform, two vital energy unites and make you surrender to the divine. When you do namaste, you express “the divine in me bows” or “I bow to the divine.”

This word represents the idea that we are all one: we have many more similarities than differences. According to tantric philosophy – which looks to the human body as a means of attaining knowledge – each person, thought, feeling, or experience is a perfect expression of divine consciousness.

When we remember who we are through this spiritual practice, we understand that there are no barriers between ourselves and others. We are all part of the whole.

Namaste and Namaskar

The Sanskrit terms Namaste and Namaskar have a similar meaning referring to the expression of respect and reverence, accompanied by a gesture of folded hands. They are based on one word, “Namah, which means ‘worship, reverence.’ It is an expression of admiration and entrustment of oneself, trust, and self-surrender concerning the divine light source in each of us.

Thus, Namaste, which means “a respectful greeting to you,” consists of the words “Namah” and “te” (to you), as mentioned above. Namaskar, meaning “I bow with respect” or “I bow with respect to you, which is a manifestation of the divine essence,” consists of “Namah” and “Kar” (Kar – ‘do,’ ‘follow,’ ‘perform,’ ‘form’).

In the modern world, both words are used interchangeably, meaning a manifestation of respect for the divine principle in the other. However, it is believed that initially, when saying “Namaste,” they addressed a deity or a saint. At the same time, “Namaskar” was used only for people who are one of the manifestations of single divine essence. It is not worshiping another person’s ego but reverence for a particle of the Higher Consciousness in him.

Places where Namaste is widely Used

Namaste by Elderly women of Nepal. Picture Credit: LuAnne Cadd/MAF, Flicker

This greeting is used by members of various Asian faiths and religions: Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Taoists, Shintoists, and Buddhists, among others less popular.

In Nepali and Indian cultures, even among non-believers, it is used at the beginning of a conversation as a greeting. Sometimes, only a gesture with the hands is made without saying the word.

In the West, on the other hand, it is used exclusively in yoga centers where yoga and meditation are taught. The Namaste gesture can accompany prayer and mantra recitation.

Folding our palms in Namaste, we also express gratitude to the yoga teacher at the beginning of the class or lecture, recognizing him as a teacher. At the end of a yoga class, we express gratitude for the valuable knowledge passed on to us or the lesson received.

We can also thank with this gesture any person to whom we are grateful for the assistance provided, thereby directing the energy of gratitude from the heart.

Namaste in Yoga Practice

Performing the namaste gesture in yoga stimulates the free movement of prana, subtle universal energy within yourself. The free and unhindered movement of this subtle energy, prana, in the body is the key to your immunity and positive outlook.

The namaste yoga or gesture is also part of the Yoga Mudras system. Although it is used daily as a greeting in almost all yoga studios, it is correctly performed in a specific position and with a certain attitude.

In Yoga philosophy, Namaste is also called Anjali mudra (prayer position). At its core, this “Anjali” gesture expresses humility and reverence. It is a gesture of gratitude and thanksgiving for the gift of life and all we have. This gesture also has many useful properties. So, with regular practice of this gesture, the joints of your palms and fingers will improve their elasticity.

If you need to calm down and focus before an important meeting or exam, then “Anjali” will also come to the rescue. (Also Read – Your Hands Have The Power To Heal – 10 Powerful Mudras)

With the correct execution of this Anjali mudra, your mind will become peaceful; you will be able to deal more successfully with insomnia, anxiety, and depression. This gesture will help your mind tune in to the positive and correct the thinking process.

Namaste also acts as a form of common greeting that does not involve physical contact and intrusion into the energy space of another person, which is a sign of respect. With this gesture, we express benevolent disinterestedness and appreciation for another person.

Method of doing Namaste Yoga

Namaste in Yoga

To begin, please find a comfortable seated position on your mat with your legs crossed and your hands resting on your knees. Sit up tall, lengthening your spine and relaxing your shoulders.

Now, bring your hands together at your heart center in the Namaste gesture, pressing your palms firmly together and lifting your elbows slightly. Take a deep inhale, and as you exhale, close your eyes and bow your head slightly forward towards your fingertips.

Hold this position for a few breaths, feeling the energy of your hands coming together and the sense of connection and gratitude in your heart. Take a moment to reflect on what you’re thankful for in your life, and send that feeling of gratitude out into the world around you.

When you’re ready, slowly release your hands and take a few deep breaths. You can repeat this gesture and meditation as many times as you like, using it as a reminder to stay connected to your inner self and to the world around you.

Namaste means complete modesty and dedication to the Almighty. Namaste helps to feel inner peace and achieve balance as it is believed that all energy flowing through the body is concentrated in the palms, solar plexus, and feet. Namaste is the recognition of other human beings as part of divinity. Who would have thought such a simple gesture had wide meaning and versatility?