vihangamyoga's picture

Average: 2.5 (2 votes)

“Namaste” symbolizes the Indian culture but is there something more to this custom than being a symbol? Find out in this story…….
This story is the tale of my research. I underwent this journey a few years back and I am putting it in front of you for one reason only – share the significance of “Namaste”. Humans have always been good followers and they tend to follow customs for long periods of time. The Indian culture is an ancient culture and it has been alive since thousands of years (which undoubtedly are a matter of pride for the entire humanity). People in India still acknowledge as well as follow the same ancient culture to a good extent. But somewhere in the middle of the many changes, people have begun to lose faith in their culture. This blog is aimed at reinstating faith in the value of our ancient culture (if lost). For faith is the pillar of our existence, faith is the kaleidoscope of hope, faith is our biggest resource and we must never let go off it.
Ever wondered about India’s most prominent word! Well, it is Namaste – a customary greeting when individuals meet and a salutation upon their parting. Younger persons usually initiate the exchange with their elders. Initiating the exchange is seen as a sign of respect in other hierarchical settings. It is the common greeting in Nepal as well. Almost everybody in India knows “Namaste”. It’s not a name but a posture for salutation, a customary greeting that has been practiced in India since the last thousands of years. Even little kids who are not matured enough to go to school can perform this salutation. Anybody interested in Indian culture acknowledges Namaste. But being an adventurer at heart, I decided to understand the history, art and science of Namaste.
I started from scratch – from the man living next door to the sadhu (monk) at the temple, from the fakir at the traffic signal to the bunch of kids leaving for school, from the professor at a college to a man working at his shop. In order to sound sane, I took the garb of a researcher (which I am). Everybody has an answer here (in India) but they were not full proof. In other words, they did not satiate me. I wanted to know many things – who invented Namaste and when, what does it mean, what is its effect, etc. I know Namaste is not gravity and that it was perhaps invented thousands of years back, but I still wanted to know it for the sheer impact that it has had. After all, the only Indian word that has become globally known is Namaste. It is the (so called) first word (of our country). So I had to know it, and hence I decided to work harder at the subject.
A student of Sanskrit (an ancient language) told me that Namaste is a Sanskrit word, the meaning of which is “I bow to you”. Since Sanskrit is believed to be a language that originated in the early Vedic period, “Namaste” is also considered by many to have its root in the Vedic times. But due to some reason, I do not agree with them. I also had this gut feeling that there is a lot more to “Namaste” than what shows. So I decided to delve deeper.

Since Namaste is a posture, it falls in the category of Yoga – an ancient Indian knowledge. This posture is known as Anjali mudra. In this mudra, the hands are held together at the palms in front of the heart and the head is bowed slightly downwards in respect. But to understand the real significance of Namaste, it’s important here to understand its science through the concept of Brahmavidya – a secret ancient knowledge that is today known as Vihangam Yoga.
Understanding Mudra
According to Sir Isaac Newton (who discovered gravity) – “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. This statement or theory is so true. It is proven easily in the lives of Yogis every single moment. They can feel it all the time. So I guess all Yogis must love science. But to every science is also an art and that art has a science as well. Those who practice martial art, mudra, dance or music will know that one action has to be balanced by another. For instance, a mudra with the right hand is balanced by a mudra with the left hand. Similarly in martial art, a movement of the left leg is balanced by the right leg. This is based on the principle of Yin-Yang or Ingala-Pingala. Ingala denotes moon and the left part of the body. Pingala denotes sun and the right part. Thus does the Yamuna river flow from the left of Ganges which denotes Pingala. The left hand, left leg, left brain and left part of body are governed by Ingala whereas right part is governed by Pingala.
The purpose of Namaste
When we join the two hands together in Namaste pose, we attain a state of outer Sama (balance). The Namaste denotes the middle path or central channel Sushumna, which brings us spiritual bliss. Namaste denotes freedom from the endless cycle of left and right, the cycle of two opposites, the cycle of light and darkness, the cycle of femininity and masculinity, the cycle of Kaal (Time) and Prakriti (Nature), the cycle of birth and death. In a pure Namaste mudra, the palm is held together by the heart and the head is bowed, conveying deep reverence born from the heart and absolute submission of mind respectively.
Performing Namaste properly soothes and rejuvenates the body and mind. The feeling and intensity of respect and humility lingers and grows when practiced as a daily ritual. The ritual of Namaste (also called Pranam) is accompanied by a personal prayer to God. Offering Pranam soothes and rejuvenates the body and mind. God, as the creator, sustainer and destroyer, possesses infinite powers. Pranam is a gesture of appreciation of his greatness and glory. It is also in recognition from the deep recesses of one's mind and soul that God is supreme, and the refuge and protector of all. Therefore, by offering Pranam, one can offer respects and seeks his grace and blessings for happiness in this world and beyond.