Namaskar is more than a traditional greeting of respect, made by bringing the palms together before the face or chest and bowing.
The main objective of doing Namaskar to someone is to derive spiritual as well as soothing benefits while completely diminishing ego and shallow pride. It is respecting the divinity (soul) residing within a person.
Pranam, Namaskar or Namaste Background
Namaskar or Namaste and Its origin
Meaning of Namaskar or Namaste
Namaskār, also known as Namastē, is an ancient form of greeting of Bharat which is practiced even today. It’s origin is billions of years old. Bhagwan and demigods also greet each other with this ancient Salutation. But its significance is more constructive for us humans. It is used in both occasions; on arrival and while leaving.
There are two methods of greeting in Namaskar
Greeter Bends Head a Little
When a person greets another with namaskar, the greeting is accompanied by a slight bow made with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards and closely positioned in front of the chest. Along with this, the word ‘namaskar’ or ‘namaste’ is said to the person who is being greeted. The hand position is known as the Namaskar Mudra.
Greeter Completely Bows His Head
Some greeters also bow completely in front of a person while greeting to convey they believe in superiority of the soul in the person.
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Explanation of Namaste or Namaskar
The word नमस्कार ‘Namaskar’ is derived from the Sanskrit root नमः ‘namah’, which means paying obeisance (Namaskar) or salutation.
From Science of Justice – ‘Namaha’ is a physical action expressing that ‘you are superior to me in all qualities and in every way’.
We are all are originally Souls and not bodies. The divinity (Bhagwan/Atma) within us help us remain alive and do Karma. The greeting of Namaskar is when the Soul (atma) in one person acknowledges and pays obeisance to the Soul (atma) in another.
We should ideally Say ‘Namaskar’ when we greet someone and not Namaste. Namaskar has more deeper connection than the word Namaste. Namaskar means greeting a Soul (source of all) while Namaste means greeting the form that is covering the Soul. That is the reason when a person addresses large audience he greets them as Namaskar while when he greets a single person he says Namaste. Though we can use Namaskar even to greet single person.
Soulful Meaning of Namaskar or Namaste
Spiritual (आध्यात्मिक) Benefits of Namaskar
Purpose of Namaskar
The spiritual growth enhances when greeting of Namaskar is done. The acknowledgement of presence of divine (soul) during act of greeting develops the attitude of surrender, gratitude and samarpan. When the recipient also complements it develops spiritual connection between two souls. The divine connection of togetherness boosts the aura and relation with the formless soul is progressed from the mortal form of body. Respecting soul is admiring the controller of body. The exchange of Namaskars with mutual obeisance increases Spirituality for both the individuals.
During Namaskar, the greeter thinks, “You are superior to me; ‘I’ am the subordinate one. I do not know anything, You are omniscient, endless”, the moment this thinking crosses the mind, it immensely helps in reducing ego and increasing modesty. The person in complete modesty salutes the soul. The form of a body is a medium to pay gratitude to the formless soul. It is recognition of the power of spirituality (आध्यात्मिक शक्ति) present in the human form.
Pranam, Namaskar or Namaste Benefits
The Transfer of Subtle Energies in Namaskar
Refer image above: Namaskar 1 mudra is offering Namaskar (pranam) to God.
Namaskar 2 mudra is offering Namaskar to an individual or people.
Why Joining of Palms Gesture in Namaskar
It was Hinduism that bestowed knowledge to the world that a living body is made up of 5 elements: Water (Jal), Fire (Agni), Earth (Pruthvītattva/Bhumi), Air (Pavan/Marut) and Vacuum (Ākāshtattva/Sunya). Human body is considered as a microcosmo in this cosmic universe. There’s constant and enormous flow of energy within the human body.
Ākāshtattva cannot be harmed, it is endless, it cannot be destructed even when the entire Universe gets destructed to form new creation. Ākāshtattva exists pre-manifestation to post-manifestation. It is always present and most powerful of all elements. By doing the Namaskar Mudra (joining of palms), a greater level of Divine consciousness is absorbed into the body. The person is connected to Ākāshtattva. The concentration of energy increases while uttering the word “Namaskar”, and person is connected to second element that is the Absolute Earth Principle (Pruthvītattva). This is because the mudra by itself is associated with the Absolute Earth Principle. So joining hands relates to Ākāshtattva and uttering Namaskar connects to Pruthvītattva. As both of the elements of energy connects, other elements also starts connecting with the person – Water (Jal), Fire (Agni) and Air (Pavan/Marut). This result in generation of spiritual positivism in the person.
The human body is composed of immense energy. It is up to us to turn it into positive or negative energy. Shaking hands result in transfer of positive or negative energy while Namaskar only result in transfer of positive energy when done with humble human beings. The choice is yours which type of energy you want to absorb.
Science Behind Lack of Physical Contact in Namaskar
The Japanese form of greeting – bow and hand wave has origin from Hindu form of Namaskar. Both are non-contact form of greeting. Physical contact enhances the ease of flow of subtle-energies between two people. The flow of energies between two people during handshake (or contactable greetings) is fatal for a positively energized individual, if he shakes hand with a negativity filled pessimistic individual, the gloom from the person is transferred to the positive individual. While in Namaskar as there is no physical contact, the ability for one person to affect another negatively is minimized to larger extent.
There is no greeting of a body but respecting of Soul (atma) is involved in Namaskar. Atma is pious – formless and nothing can effect the immortal, indestructible soul. The impact of negative energies is negligible.
However, it is highly advised to keep distance from a person who is possessed or fully filled with negative traits – alcohol drinking, pr*stitution, other illegal and insane activities. A possessed person send negative vibrations while greeting Namaskar to a nice person. This was also one of the reasons in Hinduism, elders always advice to have company of good people who are dharmic and do not possess bad behavior. Having relations with such people would lead to greetings and meetups which further destroys the positive circumference of a good person. Still when compared with a greeting that involves physical contact, the passing of impact from the negative entity is very limited. The conveyance of glorification towards soul annihilates the negative vibrations completely.
Always make friendship with good natured individuals who are devoid of negative traits.
Process of Namaskar or Namaste
How to Do Namaskar
The Scientific Process of Namaskar
- Take a breath chant ॐ once and feel you are only a soul not body.
- Close your eyes gently.
- Focus that you are greeting a soul (god) from a soul (god) within you. You can imagine image of a god that you believe in.
- Pause to follow steps (1,2 and 3) before uttering Namaskar and then say Namaskar.
- Never hassle and utter Namaskar. The right method is to humbly complete the simple steps to greet the soul.
Don’ts in Namaskar
Some important things you should remember when you greet someone also check whether other person is correctly greeting you or completing the formality.
- Do not have ill-feelings towards other person. Better meet and greet person who is not your enemy.
- Use clean hands if possible to greet.
- Do not hold any object in the hands and greet hurriedly. As doing so means your hands are not in perfect Namaskar Mudra. This position do not flow the energy in correct form to the recipient. The fingers and their tips should be straight while greeting in Namaskar.
- Do not keep any Rajo or Tamo object in hand while greeting – objects like key chain, currency notes, handkerchief should not be kept in hands. Also if the object in the hand is Rajo or Tamo, and it is touched to the forehead or chest while doing Namaskar, then the Raja-Tama components from it may enter the body of the person who is doing Namaskar.
Thus we can easily conclude that practice of Namaskar which emerged from Hindu science is the best form of greeting.
Update to this 2014 archive article on March-2020:
Namaste/Namaskar No Handshake
Harmful Effects of Handshake and Viral Disease
Handshake makes one person lean and come in close contact with the greeter.
According to CDC, usually any harmful virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
Similarly COVID-19 Coronavirus spreads when a person comes into close contact with the patient:
1. Respiration: Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
2. Inhale: These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
3. Touch: Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects: It may be possible that a person can get Coronavirus (COVID-19) by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Namaste/Namaskar Prevents Coronavirus Symptoms
According to WMD, Coronavirus symptoms can show up anywhere from 2 to 14 days after exposure. Early on, they’re a lot like the common cold. You might notice:
3. Shortness of breath
Infections range from mild to serious. The virus can turn deadly if it leads to pneumonia, respiratory failure, or septic shock. Those most at risk of death are the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
Instead of greeting a person in handshake fashion, show gratitude, to respect his/her soul by folding hands in Pranam or Namaste mudra. This way, you are safe from absorbing harmful virus. The best part of Namaste or Namaskar form of greeting is, you can greet a person from any visible distance. Usually, to avoid contact with a patient, it is done from the distance of 12 to 20 feet.