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NAMASTE (na’mas’te) is a profound and sublime greeting of humility and respect. This simple greeting is expressed while bringing together the palms of the hands before the heart; accompanied by a slight bow of the head. As a greeting, namaste is embraced in the spirit of total surrender to the divine that exists within us all. There is a knowing that goes along with the namaste gesture, and that is, that a divine transaction can only occur between equals. And, moreover, that we are all divine beings having human experiences. Hence, by extending the greeting namaste before another, we recognize the divine spark in them. Furthermore, the gesture helps us to be aware that the same divine flame resides within our own selves. Simply put, Namaste means the following:

“The God in me greets the God in you -The Spirit in me meets and recognizes the same Spirit in you”.

In other words, it recognizes the equality of all, and honors the sacredness of all.

Namaste is a composite of the two Sanskrit words, nama, and te. Te means you, and nama means to bend or bow before. The word nama is split into two, na and ma. Na signifies negation and ma represents mine. The direct meaning would then be “’not mine”. The import being that the individual soul belongs entirely to the Supreme soul, which is identified as residing in the individual towards whom the namaste is directed. Namaste is thus the necessary rejection of “I” and the associated phenomena of separation and egotism. “Ma” in nama means death (spiritual), and when this is negated (na-ma), it signifies immortality.

Namaste is deeply rich in symbolism. The proper performance of namaste requires that we blend the five fingers of the left hand exactly with the fingers of the right hand. The five fingers of the left hand represent the five senses of karma, and those of the right hand, the five organs of knowledge. Hence, it signifies that our karma or action must be in harmony with, and governed by rightful divine knowledge, inspiring us to think and act towards ourselves and others with deep regard.

By combining the five fingers of each hand, a total of ten is achieved. The number ten is a time-honored symbol of perfection, and the mystical number of completion and unity. Ten is the number of the Commandments revealed to Moses by God. In the Pythagorean system, ten was a symbol of the whole of creation. Ancient Chinese thought also regarded ten as the perfectly balanced number. By bringing together the two hands, Namaste recognizes the duality that exists in this world and suggests an effort on our part to embrace a non-dual state of Oneness.

3 Responses to “Namaste — A Divine Greeting”

  1. on 03 Oct 2011 at 9:23 am jojo

    Keshav, what are the 5 organs of knowledge? Thanks Mary Ann for the reminder to review and refresh the old understandings, now, with the help of the maturity that has developed in between. Namaste.

  2. on 03 Oct 2011 at 8:05 am Diane

    Thank you MaryAnn for this reminder to re-read Namaste.   Namaste, Diane

  3. on 02 Oct 2011 at 6:47 pm Mary Ann

    very informative and opened a new awareness of the word and gesture~namaste

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