What Does Namaste Actually Mean?

Written by Shirin Mehdi

Namaste is more than what you think it is. The gesture Namaste has a meaningful place in the science of yoga other than being an ancient form of greeting in the Asian countries. Now, that’s something you did not know, did you?

Namaste is a profound and philosophical symbol which I am sure you use on particular occasions like greeting elders/priests, while praying, in a yoga class, at a spiritual discourse, etc.

Namaste is also considered very ‘Indian,’ but its appeal is universal. Once you get to know its true meaning and purpose, you will be amazed.

And, that’s what we would do here by telling you everything you need to know about this very relatable yet mysterious gesture—‘namaste.’ Come, join in.

What Is The Meaning Of Namaste?

Namaste is pronounced as na-ma-stay. The term ‘nama’ means bowing and ‘stay’ means to you. So the word Namaste means “bowing to you.”

The pre-classical Sanskrit or otherwise called Vedic Sanskrit dates back to 1500 B.C. Namaste is a Sanskrit word and can be traced back to the first usage of the Sanskrit language.

Also, many terracotta figures were excavated from the Indus Valley Civilization site which dates back to 3000 BC to 2000 BC.

Namaste is a common way to respectfully greet or bid goodbye to a person in India and Nepal. It is similar to saying ‘hello’ in the Western countries.

The act of Namaste comes from the Vedic customs and is a form of saluting. It expresses feelings and emotions like honor, courtesy, politeness and hospitality to the person the gesture namaste is directed to.

That and there is more! Namaste is a deeper concept than you think it is. To know more, keep scrolling down, my friend.

The Spiritual Meaning Of Namaste


If you attempt to study the term ‘Namaste’ more profoundly, you will realize what it holds what it stands for.

Namaste is a gesture that is respecting the divine presence in each of us. It is a spark that is located near your heart chakra. Namaste is acknowledging the soul and paying respects to it.

In fact, the act of Namaste recognizes and respects the spirit of one by the soul of another. Namaste wholly means—“I honor the place in you which is of love, truth, light, and peace.”, “I bow to the divine in you.”

Namaste represents the Vedic philosophy which believes that the divine and self is same and the gesture of namaste is bowing down to the divine in your being.

Imagine paying homage to the soul of another person through a namaste. It is a beautiful emotion evoking a spiritual tinge.

Your heart centers and chakras connect when you utter the word Namaste. It reverberates positive vibrations and passes positive energy to the one uttered to.

The Usage Of Namaste


Namaste is a common gesture in many countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh and few other parts of Asia.

It is used in the context of greeting or welcoming a guest. It is also utilized in a manner to thank a person for their kindness or assistance. Between a teacher and student, namaste is a connection free from ego and complete surrender.

In Hindi and Nepalese, Namaste and Namaskar are commonly used. In Odia too it is Namaskar. In Kannada, it is Namaskara, and in Telugu, it is Dandamu. In Bengali, it is Nomoshkar, and in Tamil, it is Vanakkam. In Malayalam, it is Namaskaram.

Significance Of Namaste In Yoga


Usually, you do the namaste at the beginning and end of a yoga class. It is done to spread a sense of gratitude among the students towards the teacher and the art that they are about to learn.

The teacher also pays respect to those she is teaching and to the master she has learned from. Namaste is revering the ultimate truth that all of us are one which yoga strives to teach through a structural method.

Namaste also evokes a sense of spirituality in a yoga class and sets the mood of the class, that is to be peaceful and positive and work towards what is necessary without ego or competition.

Namaste also refers to equality and sharing in a yoga class. In short, it is an excellent way to start and end a yoga class or practice.

Namaste and Namaskar are many a time used interchangeably. Are the two the same or is there any difference? Let’s find out.

Difference Between Namaste And Namaskar

Let’s first figure out their literal meanings to understand the difference. Namaste translates to ‘salutation to you’ whereas namaskar translates to ‘I pay my salutation.’

There are various discussions as to why they differ from each other and which term to use on a particular occasion.

An understood demarcation between namaskar and Namaste is that namaskar is used when greeting more than one person and Namaste is used to welcome an individual.

Now that we know so much about Namaste, why don’t we learn how to do it. Check below.

Step-By-Step Guide To Make The Namaste Gesture


Bring your palms together till they touch each other. The fingers should face upwards and the thumbs closer to the heart. The Namaste gesture is also called Anjali mudra or Pranamasana.

Then you close your eyes and bow your head. You can also begin by placing the mudra in front of your third eye and then bring it down in front of your heart chakra when you bow your head down.

Bringing your hands together increases the flow of divinity and bowing your head with closed eyes helps you surrender to the divinity.

You can either do namaste to another person or yourself. In the western world, the gesture of namaste is made along with uttering the word whereas, in the Eastern world, the gesture itself is understood as signifying namaste and speaking the word is skipped.

Now, let’s answer some common queries on Namaste.

Is Namaste a religious symbol?

No, Namaste is not a religious symbol. It is a spiritual symbol that evokes love and positivity.

Is it okay to greet a younger person by the gesture Namaste? 

There is no age bar when it comes to greeting people with Namaste. Anybody of any age can greet anybody of any age with it.

Namaste is beautiful. Isn’t it? A gesture which is recognizing and respecting your soul is elevating yet humbling. It is one of a kind, and there is no better way to respect a person than gesturing a namaste towards her. So, the next time you meet a person, why not try namaste instead of saying hi?

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