The Significance of a Yogic Greeting
In a well-known episode it so transpired that the great lover god Krishna made away with the clothes of unmarried maidens, fourteen to seventeen years of age, bathing in the river Yamuna. Their fervent entreaties to him proved of no avail. It was only after they performed before him the eternal gesture of namaste was he satisfied, and agreed to hand back their garments so that they could recover their modesty.
The gesture (or mudra) of namaste is a simple act made by bringing together both palms of the hands before the heart, and lightly bowing the head. In the simplest of terms it is accepted as a humble greeting straight from the heart and reciprocated accordingly. Namaste is a composite of the two Sanskrit words, nama,and te. Temeans you, and nama has the following connotations To bend To bow To sink To incline To stoop All these suggestions point to a sense of submitting oneself to another, with complete humility. Significantly the word 'nama' has parallels in other ancient languages also. It is cognate with the Greek nemo, nemos and nosmos; to the Latin nemus, the Old Saxon niman, and the German neman and nehman. All these expressions have the general sense of obeisance, homage and veneration. Also important here is to note that the root 'nama' is a neuter one, the significance of which will be elaborated upon later. The word nama is split into two, na and ma. Na signifies negation and ma represents mine. The meaning would then be 'not mine'. The import being that the individual soul belongs entirely to the Supreme soul, which is identified as residing in the individual towards whom the namaste is directed. Indeed there is nothing that the soul can claim as its own. Namaste is thus the necessary rejection of 'I' and the associated phenomena of egotism. It is said that 'ma' in nama means death (spiritual), and when this is negated (na-ma), it signifies immortality.