What is the Meaning of Namaskar or Namaste?
Indian culture is incredibly complex and resembles a chaos of mind-boggling proportions. But beneath this seeming chaos is a scientific foundation that is thousands of years old. Often, the practices that we label today as blind superstition have very logical explanations behind them. The series “Why We Do What We Do” looks at the basis behind the various elements of Indian culture and explains how even the minutest detail was geared towards a human being’s immediate and ultimate wellbeing.
In today’s episode of Why We Do What We Do, Sadhguru explores the meaning and significance of the gesture of namaskar or namaste. Once an ubiquitous part of Indian culture, this gesture of bringing the palms together and bowing down, is born of a profound understanding of the human system.
Read in Telugu: నమస్కారం ఎందుకు?
When you see a person, whether it is in your workplace, on the street, at home or anywhere else, the nature of human intellect is such, the moment it sees, it will make a judgment – “this is okay in that person, this is not okay in that person. He is good, he is not good, he is beautiful, he is ugly” – all kinds of things. You don’t even have to consciously think all this. In a moment, these assessments and judgments are made. And your judgments may be completely wrong because they all are coming from your past experiences of life. They will not allow you to experience something or someone the way they are right now, which is very important. If you want to work effectively in any field, one thing is, if someone comes in front of you, to be able to grasp them the way they are right now is most important. How they were yesterday does not matter. How they are this moment is important. So, the first thing is you bow down. Once you bow down, your likes and dislikes become mild, not strong, because you recognize the source of creation within them. This is the intention behind doing namaskaram.
The Hand of the Creator
There is no piece of creation without the hand of the creator operating in it. The source of creation is operating within every cell and atom. This is why in Indian culture, if you look up at the sky, the culture taught you to bow down. If you look down at the earth, you bow down. If you see a man, a woman, a child, a cow, a tree or whatever, you bow down. And it is a constant reminder that the source of creation is within you too. If you recognize this, you are paving the way towards your ultimate nature every time you do namaskaram.
There is another aspect to this. Your palms have a lot of nerve endings – something that medical science has also discovered today. Actually, your hands speak more than your tongue and your voice. There is a whole science of mudras in yoga. Just by holding your hand in certain ways, you can make your whole system function in different ways. The moment you place your hands together, your dualities, your likes and dislikes, your cravings and aversions, all these things are leveled out. There is a certain oneness to the expression of who you are. The energies are functioning as one.
Making Yourself into an Offering
So namaskaram is not just a cultural aspect. There is a science behind it. If you are doing your sadhana, every time you bring your palms together, there is a crackle of energy – a boom is happening. On the level of your life energy, there is a giving, or you are making yourself into an offering to the other person. In that giving, you will make the other being into a life that will cooperate with you. Only if you are in a state of giving, things around will work out for you. This is so for every life. Only if it gets the cooperation of all life around itself, it manages to prosper.
Editor’s Note: If you liked this post, check out other posts of the series Why We Do What We Do.