What is the significance of Namaste in India ?
Namaste could be just a casual or formal greeting, a cultural convention or an act of workship. However, there is much more to it than meets the eye. In Sanskrit,namah+te = namaste. It means – I bow to you – my greeting, saluations or prostration to you. Namaha can also be literally interpreted as ‘na ma‘ (not mine). It has a spriritual significance of negating or reducing one’s ego in the presence of another.
The real meeting between people is the meeting of their minds. When we greet another, we do so with pranam, which means, “I bow to the Lord Supreme in you”, indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The bowing down of the head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love and humility.
The spiritual meaning is even deeper. The life force, the divinity, the Self or the Lord in me, is the same in all. Recognizing this oneness with the meeting of the palms, we salute with head bowed to the Divinity in the person we meet. That is why sometimes, we close our eyes as we do pranam to a revered person or the Lord – as if to look within.
When we know this significance, our greeting does not remain just a superficial gesture or word but paves the way for a deeper communion with another in an atmosphere of love and respect.