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Meaning of Namaste
By:Tara Shakti

Every culture has its unique form of greeting. It is a universal human need to acknowledge each other in some way. In Japan, it's bowing; in America, it's hugging or hand shaking. "Namaste" is a greeting originally from South Asia that is commonly used in yoga classes and spiritual circles around the world.

Geography

This greeting originated in South Asia.
In most parts of South Asia---India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal---namaste is the standard greeting. It is commonly used by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Muslims and Buddhists, and many continue to greet in this way in other parts of the world as well. Today, namaste is universally used in the spiritual teachings and practices of yoga and meditation.

Methodology
The physical gesture, the A˝jali Mudrā, is found in many Eastern religions and is similar to the prayer position found in Western religions. It is done by placing the palms together at the heart center, closing the eyes, and slightly bowing the head while saying "Namaste." To indicate deep respect, as for a god, guru or holy person, it is also done by placing the hands together at the third eye, bowing the head, then bringing the hands down to the heart or even placing the hands together above the head.

Variations
Namaskar is considered a more formal version of namaste and is commonly used in northern India. Namaskara and Namaskaram are formal versions used in Southern India. Also, in some cases, the gesture is enough to convey the message and the word namaste itself is not used. Sometimes too the hands are simply placed together at the heart center without any bow of the head.

Definition
The word namaste comes from the Sanskrit words "namah," which means bow, "as," which means I, and "te," which means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means, "I bow to you." It is a way of paying homage, showing respect or expressing gratitude.

Meanings
"The Divine spark in me greets the Divine spark in you."
There are many interpretations of what namaste exactly means, but most are spiritual in nature: "The God in me meets and greets the God in you"; "The Divine spark in me sees and acknowledges the Divine spark in you"; "From that place of divinity in me I bow to the divinity in you"; or "I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me." There are many other interpretations as well.

Significance
Namaste is about oneness with all that is.
Bowing the head to the heart is essentially a surrender of the ego to the spirit. Placing the palms together unites left and right, male and female, human and Divine. The gesture is an understanding that self, the other, and God are one, that the life force or divinity in us is the same that is in everyone and everything. It is a symbol of peace and oneness with all that is.