What is the Meaning of Namaste?
In India, many greet each other with the word “Namaste” – this is joined usually by a slight bow and palms touching in front, sort of like a prayer gesture.
Namaste means literally “I bow to you”.
What is definition of “you”? “I bow to God (Bhagavan) in the form of your body-mind” .
Analogy for understanding: All waves in the ocean are only water. The water is appearing as an individual wave. The essence of the wave is water alone. Similarly, the essence of individual is God.
It's actually written namaḥ te. With Sanskrit sandhi, it becomes “namaste“.
Many people in spiritual circles have adopted this expression. But to most, it's just another spiritual identity status, along with beads, chants, clothes, etc.
The expression “Namaste” honors the individual (jiva), which is an expression of the Divinity (Brahman), or through which Divinity expresses.
It reminds the individual (who takes themselves to be a small, insignificant spec in creation) — is in fact NOT DIFFERENT from God.
Essentially it's Divinity (in form of a limited person), acknowledging Divinity.
So this expression is to be used as a teaching, a reminder.
Don't let it become another mechanical “hello”.
When grasped it can eradicate the idea of the false individuality (body-mind-intellect)… and point towards the fact that you are THAT ESSENCE (Brahman) right now.
Swami Dayananda (of Arsha Vidya) Definition:
Namaste or namaskara is a very beautiful way of greeting each other. In every culture there is a way of greeting like ‘hi’ – ‘hi’ to greet and ‘bye’ to take leave.
And there is also a shake-hand culture in which you hold the other’s hand, which is nice. ‘Hi-bye’ is more simple and modern.
While shaking hands, camaraderie and friendship are exchanged. It also signifies ‘how do you do’ and warmth in cold countries. In this, as we shake hands the two become one.
We have namaste which is social, cultural, religious and spiritual.
Namaste is made up of two words, namaḥ and te.
Namaḥ means (my) salutation and te means to you.
So namaste means my salutation to you.
In yoga there is sūrya-namaskāra.
Namaskāra means doing namaḥ, offering your salutation, your namaskara to Sun.
In the word ‘namaste,’ the person is transcended, like when you say, ‘touch wood’ you touch the nearest wooden thing available.
Here the transcending is not physical because even though the table may have a tablecloth, still you touch it, transcending the tablecloth and the table to touch the wood.
So when you say ‘touch wood,’ you do not go out to touch a log of wood. In this ‘touch wood,’ there is so much Vedanta.
You do namaste to the person in front of you without questioning his or her qualifications and so on. You transcend the person.
Even if you know this person does not deserve your salutation, yet you offer salutation. To whom? To Bhagavan, the Lord.
Remember, the Lord is the TOTAL. And that person to whom you are saying ‘namaste‘ to is not away from the TOTAL.
From Book ‘Hindu Dharma' by Bansi Pandit:
The traditional greeting of Hindus is namaste.
While doing namaste, the palms of both hands are held touching each other, in front of the chest, and the head bows while saying the words, “namaste.”
The word “namaste” means “I bow to you.”
Symbolically, placing palms together depicts humility and bowing the head reflects graciousness.
Thus, namaste is a gracious form of extending friendship in love and humility.
Hindus believe that every human being is potentially divine and eternally pure.
Thus, “namaste” also means “I bow to the divine in you.”
- The peace of God (Brahman) shining on your mind, is the same peace of God shining on this mind.