I’ve heard this word for years. Namaste, almost always accompanied by hands held together mid-chest, fingertips up almost like praying, and a small bow of the head. It is like a greeting, or a farewell. I see it written in signatures after an email or a forum post. But what does it mean?

Wikipedia says this: Nepali and Indian greeting as well as a gesture. Namaskar is considered a slightly more formal version than Namaste but both express deep respect. It is commonly used in Nepal and India by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, and many continue to use this outside the Indian subcontinent. In Indian and Nepali culture, the word is spoken at the beginning of written or verbal communication. However, the same hands-folded gesture is made wordlessly upon departure.

In recent times, and more globally, the term “namaste” has come to be especially associated with yoga and spiritual meditation all over the world. In this context, it has been viewed in terms of a multitude of very complicated and poetic meanings which tie in with the spiritual origins of the word. Some examples:

  • “I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me.”
  • “I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace, When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.”
  • “I salute the God within you.”
  • “I recognize that we are all equal.”
  • “The entire universe resides within you.”
  • “The divine peace in me greets the divine peace in you.”
  • “Your spirit and my spirit are ONE.”
  • “That which is of the Divine in me greets that which is of the Divine in you.”
  • “The Divinity within me perceives and adores the Divinity within you.”

I love this.

I’m not the type of person who would hold up my hands in such a gesture and bow my head either in greeting or in farewell, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have that sentiment in my heart every time I meet someone or say goodbye. It’s a sign of respect. It means that I honor the God within you.

We could all do a little more of honoring the God within each other, don’t you think?


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