Namaskar – Ancient Practice Of Greetings


Namaskar. The traditional Indian Greeting. A gesture which marks respect and love for the person we greet. We greet on the street, in the house, in public transport, at work place, on the phone with Namaste or better word Namaskar or much even better word Pranam. Let us know the meaning and significance of this gesture.

In Sanskrit the word is namah + te = namaste which means “I bow to you” – my greetings, salutations or prostration to you. The word ‘namaha’ can also be literally interpreted as “na ma” (not mine). It has a spiritual significance of negating or reducing one’s ego in the presence of another. Namaskar has more sattvikta than the word namaste.  In Sanskrit the word namas + kara = namaskara  which means “bowing action,” that is, “I am bowing”.

Unlike Namaste, Pranam must be performed in the feet of the other person – not just with two hands together in a prayer posture. As such Pranam should always be done by younger ones to elders.and it is never to be answered by saying Pranam back. In return the elders should give blessings. This greeting is universal and reflects the values of the ancient Indian culture. This is the only most commonly used greeting used by all great characters appearing in Hindu scriptures such as Vedas, Upanishads and epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. In simpler words, bowing in front of him gives the other person feeling of delight and respect. Also motto of “*Atithi Devo Bhava* ” was also achieved.


There are six types of Pranam:

Ashtangana – touching the ground with knees, belly, chest, hands, elbows, chin, nose and temple.

Shastanga – touching the ground with toes, knees, hands, chin, nose and temple.

Panchanga – touching the ground with knees, chest, chin, temple and forehead.

Dandavat – bowing forehead down and touching the ground.

Namaskar – folded hands touching the forehead. This is another more common form of salutation and greeting expressed between people.

Abhinandana – bending forward with folded hands touching the chest.

In Yoga this gesture is called as Anjali mudra. Its is well known fact that the tips at the fingers are major energy points. When we bring together the palms of our fingers linking to the tips of fingers then the Nerve circuits of the Brain are linked to those of the upper body. A feeling of calmness and well being immediately descends. Also in yoga each finger is representative of a certain energy.

Little finger represents Tamas or dullness

The ring finger represents Rajas or Activity

The middle finger represents Satwa or refinement

The index finger represents individual soul or Jivatma

The thumb is the Paramatma or the ultimate soul

As this gesture acknowledge the divine in another, it enhances the spiritual potency and enhances divine consciousness.

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