The meaning of Namaste or Namaskara

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The meaning of Namaste or Namaskara

Introduction to the Tradition

Namaste or Namaskara is symbolic to Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism and Yoga. It is a sign of respect as well as of obeisance and greeting. The Namaste is the act of bringing together both hand palms to meet each other. This formation is called the “Anjali Mudra” where a person bends slightly forward with the folded hands touching the middle of the chest or heart. In Yoga, it is called “Pranamasana”

Namaskar and Namaste are a part of six different forms of Pranaam –

  1. Ashthanga (Ashtha=eight; Anga=body parts): Touching the ground with knees, belly, chest, hands, elbows, chin, nose, and temple. [Pronunciation: a-sha-th-an-ga]
  2. Shasthanga (Shashtha=six; Anga=body parts): Touching the ground with toes, knees, hands, chin, nose, and temple. [Pronunciation: sh-ash-tha-nga]
  3. Panchanga (Pancha=five; Anga=body parts): Touching the ground with knees, chest, chin, temple, and forehead. [Pronunciation: pan-ch-an-ga]
  4. Dandavat (Dand=stick): Bowing the forehead down and touching the ground. [Pronunciation: dan-da-va-t]
  5. Abhinandan (Congratulations to you): Bending forward with folded hands touching the chest. [Pronunciation: a-bh-e-nan-d-an]
  6. Namaskar (Bowing to you). The same as doing a Namaste with folded hands and touching the forehead. 

It is also recognized as a polite way to solicit requests.

Cultural Importance

The Namaste or Namaskara is symbolic to the Sanatana Dharma practiced since ancient times in the Indian sub-continent and South-East Asian countries as well as China, Japan etc.

The act of Namaste means that “I bow to the Divine force in you” Indian culture places a higher importance to the notion of “Every living being is the manifestation of the Divine”.

The “Anjali Mudra” which symbolizes the Namaste or Namaskara is a hand gesture used in many yoga poses, classical dance forms and in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

The Anjali Mudra is performed by bringing together left and right hand palms together, fingertip to fingertip with the thumbs touching or pointing to the middle of chest, position of the heart. This mudra should create an illusion of a pyramid, with the tip of the middle fingers creating an equilateral triangle with both the right and left elbows. Also while doing this, a slight bow is accompanied.

This mudra helps to achieve focus and meditative state.

Scientific Explanation

The basic difference between a Namaste and Namaskara is that the former is a gesture and latter is the sound.

When two people greet in this manner, they establish a connection in the spiritual realm. This establishes a connection between two positive auras with quantum realm. It also means that a person is without ego and superiority or inferiority complex; is humble and accepts that he shares common human traits with the other person he is greeting.

In the Anjali Mudra, each finger represents an element of which the body is made –

  1. Agni – Fire
  2. Prithvi / Bhumi – Earth
  3. Pavan / Marut – Air
  4. Jal – Water
  5. Akash / Shunya – Vacumm / Space

The powers of these elements are amalgamated in the Anjali Mudra which aids the flow of cosmic energy from the Universe which gets channelized through the mudra which increases the spiritual energy of the person.

With this mudra, the possibility of transfer of germs and negative energy does not arise.

This mudra activates the pressure points in ears and eyes and stimulates parts of brain associated with memory. This aids in remembrance of the person.

Significance in terms of Health

  1. Uniting the palms in the Anjali Mudra join the privilege and left halves of the hemispheres of the brain.
  2. Mitigates stress and uneasiness.
  3. Improves the adaptability of the arms, hands, wrists and fingers.
  4. Can be uti

Namaskar in Yoga

The gesture itself is a meditative form of Yoga. Apart from this, the Anjali Mudra is performed in various Yoga Asanas such as –
1.    Surya Namaskar
Pranamasana with Parvatasana is the first and last pose in the Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation. The Anjali Mudra in Surya Namaskar gives the following benefits:
•    Both the right and left brain hemispheres get connected to each other.
•    Unifies active and receptive natures.
•    The Lotus Chakra of the Kundalini resides in the heart. Anjali Mudra helps to gently open up this chakra with awareness.
2.    Tadasana
The Anjali Mudra helps to open or close the shoulders and chest. The mudra helps to calm the mind and find centre and balance.
3.    Anjaneyasana
Anjali Mudra helps to develop and maintain a sense of reverence and praise and recognition of sacredness of life during this asana.
4.    Hanumanasana
The Anjali Mudra in this asana is performed when split is performed. It helps to create a balance of posture creating a perpendicular with two 90 degree angles.
5.    Malasana
The Anjali Mudra helps to press the elbows on to the inner thighs thus extending the front partof the torso
6.    Pranayam
The Anjali Mudra helps to keep a balance and calm of your pose. It also helps to shut out thoughts to increase focus.
7.    Matsyasana
Anjali Mudra in this yoga helps to ease your chest by raising the hands elbow up in the air. The positioning creates an imagery of a pyramid over the chest which helps relieve stress.
8.    Prasarit Padottanasana
In this yoga, the Anjali Mudra is inverted, which means it is used as a means to outstretch the arms backwards to make the limbs supple. The back bone becomes stronger. In this asana, the Anjali Mudra which is reversed is called “Prishtanjali Mudra” which means “the back or rear of anything”.
9.    Kapotasana
In this asana, the Anjali Mudra helps to support the crown of the head. It also helps to activate the crown chakra which helps to alleviate symptoms of insomnia and migraines.
10.    Utkatasana
In this yoga, the Anjali Mudra helps to outstretch your arms in the air with the elbows touching the ears. This helps the spine to maintain its flexibility.
11.    Urdhva Hastasana
In this yoga, the Anjali Mudra helps to release tension from the muscles of the arm and increases blood flow in the arms.
12.    Veerbhadrasana
In this yoga, the Anjali Mudra helps to keep a balance of the outstretched arms creating a right angle with respect to the ground to support the feet.
13.    Vrikshasana
In this yoga, the Anjali Mudra over the head creates a pole of balance which compensates for the suspended leg. It also acts as transmission point for the good vibes from the Universe to enter the body through the brain.

Over to you…

What benefits you received by incorporating Namaskar, Namaste and Anjali Mudra in your life and routine? We are curious to know.


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