Namaste.. a very famous gesture, nowadays everywhere around the world. It’s a Sanskrit word and it’s associated with both Hinduism and Yoga, which are different things. Namaste is a salutation originating from the Indian Subcontinent but is used also in nearby countries like Nepal, Bangladesh and other south and southeastern parts of Asia.
It is also commonly used in the opening and closing of yoga classes, which I think is, how it mostly got known in the Western countries.
What’s the meaning though of this beautiful word?
The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a divine spark within each one of us. The gesture is the acknowledgment of the spark/light in the soul of one in another. The divine spark is located in the heart chakra, which is the spiritual center of human compassion. That’s why the gesture is accompanied by bringing the palms together in front of the chest where the heart chakra is located.
Definition of Namaste
Namaste is formed by joining two words, “namas” and “te”.
“Namas” means “bow”, adorations and salutation
“te” means “to you”.
Therefore, the literal meaning of Namaste is ‘bowing to you’.
However, the literal translation is not nearly as important as the spirit of the greeting; a motion that is cordial and executed with grace and certain humility.
In Yoga classes it represents the respectful bond that exists between teacher and student. The teacher says Namaste, meaning he sees his students with equality, and the light within him, sees and bows to the light within the students.
“The divine in me honors the divine in you.”
Another word similar to Namaste, that you might hear if you travel to India or Nepal is Namaskar. During my stay in India I did hear that a lot too.
It is considered as a synonym of Namaste, but there are subtle differences in their meanings. Namaste is the more popular and informal term, meaning as we mentioned above “Salutations to you” or “I bow to you with respect”, while Namaskar is kind of more formal salutation and translates as “I pay my salutations” or “I bow with reverence”.
Definition of Namaskar
Nam, which means “to bow to”
As, which means “to be” or “to exist”
Kar, which means “doing” or “one who does”
If you travel to India, Nepal or other countries in Asia you will hear and see the gesture a lot. Feel free to use it as well, as a salutation, any time you meet someone or before parting ways. It’s an expression of appreciation and respect, so don’t forget to keep your smile up and your heart open.
Through my personal experience people are very open and friendly and if you are so as well, you will allow yourself to have a deeper interaction with the locals and in line with this to learn and experience more about the real and original local life in the place you'll visit.
Love & Light