The true meaning of “Namaste”


Some people shake hands, some kiss and hug. Others just say hello.

People everywhere greet one another as a sign of recognition, affection, friendship and reverence. While hand shakes, hugs, bows and nods are all acceptable greetings, in the West, the most common greeting is a kiss, or kisses, on the cheek.

A simple greeting can be an ice breaker when finding yourself in unfamiliar territories just by saying ‘hello’ in their dialect.

Through most parts of south-east Asia, people greet one another in a respectful form of ‘Namaste‘, generally putting one’s palms together and thumb in the centre of the forehead, above the junction of the eyebrows (third-eye). Namas means to ‘bow’ or  ‘obeisance’, ‘reverential salutation’ or ‘adoration and te means ‘to you’. Therefore, Namas te literally means “bowing to you”.

Whilst spending a few months in India, I found that its use became a commonality that one uses lightly, until I was recently greeted by someone very dear to me who heartfully put her palms together and said “Namaskar”. I felt a sense of awe as she said it, and I politely greeted her in the same manner, not knowing its actual meaning and returned home to find out. What I came across truly touched my heart.

Used as a respectful and deeper form of greeting, the ideation which is kept in mind when saying this ONE word means ‘With all the depths and charms of my mind and all the love and cordiality of my heart, the divinity within me greets the divinity within you‘.

Greetings all over the world have a sense of respect and acknowledgment and human connection, but this, in particular, truly left a mark on me. It expresses politeness, courtesy, honour, and hospitality from one person to the other and is by far the most meaningful word I have ever heard.