Namaste is a gesture. And when spoken – a beautiful word! Say it with me Nah-mah-stay. Isn’t that just a beautifully flowing word?
Even more beautiful is the meaning behind it. Coming from the Sanskrit ‘nama’ meaning ‘to bow’ and ‘te’ meaning ‘you’. It can be conveyed by speaking the word namaste while bowing your head slightly and with your hands together (like praying hands with your fingers pointing up) in front of your chest (upon greeting a person)…or just the bow without the speaking (upon departure). Now, if you are writing something like a letter…writing the word ‘namaste’ would replace for instance, sincerely or love or good day….any type of closing statement.
It is an expression of respect in India…although I think this is such a beautiful expression it should be used worldwide much like a smile.
When you say namaste or bow, you are saying “the light within me honors the light within you” or “The Spirit (or God / Divinity) within me recognizes the spirit (or God / Divinity) within you” or “The God in me greets the God in you” Now seriously, how beautiful is that?
Now the whole reason why ‘namaste’ is done is because we are recognizing the other person as being on equal ground because… we are all one. Children of the Divine. Of God. Of Spirit. A beautiful greeting that knows no lines like color of skin, age or genger. You can use the gesture towards anyone, even people you don’t know.
In eastern religions, the gesture of namaste bowing is very meaningful and spiritually rooted. As I said, both hands come together (prayer hands). One hand represents the higher spiritual self, the other hand the earthly/worldly self. When putting the two hand together it indicates you are rising above differences and connecting with the person you are bowing to.
What’s interesting to me is that I first thought that namaste would be equivalent to a hand shake. Wrong. The whole gesture in bowing (head / shoulders slightly forward) lessens the sense of ego (self-centeredness). The bow also demonstrates humility. But in shaking hands many things can be intended or even felt. For instance power, arrogance, displeasure or pleasure.
The touching of one’s hands together puts one in touch with one’s soul…. not an outer personality, it protects your own energies rather than like in hand shaking which may bring about disturbances to ones energy from mingling with others energies.