[Who wrote this article? We need an author name]

Perhaps that moment of intimidation derives from the history of 
the handshake. According to one anthropologist, the handshake 
evolved in medieval Europe, during the times of knights. It seems 
not all were laudable Lancelots or gallant Gallahads. More than a 
few would approach opponents with concealed weapons and when 
within striking distance do the needful, driving dagger or 
striking sword into the unguarded paladin. 

To fend off the fear of a foe's foul foil, knights took to 
offering their open and visibly empty hand to each other. It was 
a kind of surety, a gesture of trust, which said, "See, I am 
unarmed, so you may safely let me approach." As the story goes, 
soon the gesture itself took on meaning and the less noble, less 
lethal man on the street adopted the handshake as the proper way 
to greet others. 

In much of the world today, people do not shake hands when they 
meet. They may hug formally or kiss one another on the cheek, as 
in Eastern Europe and Arab states. They may bow softly, eyes 
turned to the ground, as in Japan and China. The Hawaiian 
greeting, termed "honi," consists of placing the nostril gently 
beside that of the person greeted, a kind of sharing of breath, 
which is life and Prana. 

For, Hindus, of course, the greeting of choice is "Namaste," 
the two hands pressed together and held near the heart with the 
head gently bowed as one says, "Namaste." Thus it is both a 
spoken greeting and a gesture, a Mantra and a Mudr(a). The 
prayerful hand position is a Mudra called Anjali, from the root 
Anj, "to adorn, honor, celebrate or anoint." The hands held in 
union signify the oneness of an apparently dual cosmos, the 
bringing together of spirit and matter, or the self-meeting the 
Self. It has been said that the right hand represents the higher 
nature or that which is divine in us, while the left hand 
represents the lower, worldly nature. 

In Sanskrit "Namas" means, "bow, obeisance, reverential 
salutation." It comes from the root Nam, which carries meanings 
of bending, bowing, humbly submitting and becoming silent. "Te" 
means "to you." Thus "namaste" means "I bow to you." the act of 
greeting is called "Namaskaram," "Namaskara" and "Namaskar" in 
the varied languages of the subcontinent. 

Namaste has become a veritable icon of what is Bharatiye. Indeed, 
there must be a Bharatiye law, which requires every travel 
brochure. Calendar and poster to include an image of someone with 
palms pressed together, conveying to the world Bharat's hospitality, spirituality and graceful consciousness. You knew all that, of course, but perhaps you did not know that there 
can be subtle ways of enhancing the gesture, as in the West one might shake another's 
hand too strongly to impress and overpower them or too briefly, indicating the withholding of genuine welcome. 

In the case of Namaste, a deeper veneration is sometimes 
expressed by bringing the fingers of the clasped palms to the 
forehead, where they touch the brow, the site of the mystic Third 
Eye. A third form of namaste brings the palms completely above 
the head, a gesture said to focus consciousness in the subtle 
space just above the Brahma-randhra, the aperture in the Crown 
Chakra. This form is so full of reverence it is reserved for 
the Almighty and the holiest of Sat Guru(s). 

It is always interesting, often revealing and occasionally 
enlightening to muse about the everyday cultural traits and 
habits each nation and community evolves, for in the little 
things our Big ideas about Life find direct and personal 
expression. Take, for instance, the different ways that American 
and Japanese toolmakers approach the same task. A saw for 
cutting lumber, if designed in the U.S., is made in such a way 
that the carpenter's stroke away from his body does the cutting. 
But in Japan saws are engineered so that cutting takes place as 
the carpenter draws the saw toward himself. A small detail, but 
it yields a big difference. 

The American saw can, if leaned into, generate more power, while 
the Japanese saw provides more control and refinement in the cut, 
requiring surprisingly less effort. Each has its place in the 
global toolbox. Each speaks -- like the handshake and namaste 
greetings -- of an underlying perception of man's relationship 
with things. 

In the West we are outgoing, forceful, externalized. We are told 
by Ma bell to "reach out and touch somebody." We are unabashedly 
acquisitive, defining our progress in life by how much we have -- 
how much wealth, influence, stored up knowledge, status or 
whatever. Every culture exhibits these traits to some extent, but 
in the east Mother is there to remind us, "Reach in and touch the 
Self." Here we are taught to be more introspective, more 
concerned with the quality of things than their quantity, more 
attuned with the interior dimension of life. 

So, there you have it, the whole of Eastern and Western culture 
summed up in the handshake which reaches out horizontally to 
greet another, and Namaste which reaches in vertically to 
acknowledge that, in truth, that there is no other. 

As a test of how these two greetings differ, imagine you are 
magically confronted with the Divine. The Paramatma, Almighty, 
walks up to you on the street. What do you do? reach out to shake 
His hand? Probably not. Though suitable between man and man, it;' 
an unseemly expression between man and Paramatma. We never shake 
hands with paramatma. I mean, what if your palms are sweating? 

So you namaste instead, the reason it feels natural to namaste 
before Paramatma is that it is, in its very essence, a spiritual 
gesture, not a worldly one. By a handshake we acknowledge our 
equality with others. We reveal our humanity. We convey how 
strong we are, how nervous, how aggressive or passive. There is 
bold physicality to it. For these and other reasons, Popes never 
shake hands. Kings never shake hands. Even mothers don't shake 
hands with their own children. 

Namaste is cosmically indifferent. Kings do namaste, Sat Gurus 
namaste and mothers namaste to their own family. We all namaste 
before the Almighty, a holy man, and even a holy place. The namaste 
gesture bespeaks our inner valuing of the sacredness of all. It 
betokens our intuition that all souls are divine, in their 
essence. It reminds us in quite a graphic manner, and with 
insistent repetition, that we can see Paramatma everywhere and in 
every human being we meet. It is saying, silently, "I see the 
Deity in us both, and bow before Him or Her. I acknowledge the 
holiness of even this mundane meeting. I cannot separate that 
which is spiritual in us from that which is human and ordinary." 

And while we are singing the praises of Namaste, it should be 
observed how efficient a gesture it is in an age of mass 
communication. A politician, or performer can greet fifty 
thousand people with a single Namaste, and they can return the 
honor instantly. In such a situation a handshake is unthinkable 
and a mere waving of one hand is somehow too frivolous. 

There are other, more mystical meanings behind Namaste. The nerve 
current of the body converges in the feet, the solar plexus and 
the hands. Psychic energy leaves the body at these junctures. To 
"ground" that energy and balance the flow of Prana streaming 
through the nerve system, Yogi(s) cross their legs in the lotus 
posture, and bring their hands together. The Anjali Mudra acts 
like a simple Yog(ic) Asan(a), balancing and harmonizing our 
energies, keeping us centered, inwardly poised and mentally 
protected. It closes our aura, shielding us psychically. It keeps 
us from becoming too externalized, thus we remain close to our 
intuitive nature, our super consciousness. 

Here are some insights into Namaste from a number of Hindu(s): 

Namaste elevates one's consciousness, reminding one that all 
beings, all existence is holy, is the Almighty. It 
communicates, "I honor or worship the Divinity within you." 
Also it draws the individual inward for a moment, inspires 
reflection on the deeper realities, softening the interface 
between people. It would be difficult or offend or feel 
animosity toward any one you greet as Paramatma. 
Namaste is a gesture of friendship and kindness, also of 
thanks or special recognition. Mystically it is called 
"Namaskara Mudra" in the Agami Pooja, and it centers one's 
energy within the spine. 
I've heard it means "I salute the Almighty within you." The 
true Namaste gesture is accompanied by bowing the head and 
shoulders slightly. This is a gesture that lessens our sense 
of ego and self-centeredness, requiring some humility to do it 
well -- whereas shaking hands can be quite an arrogant event. 
Touching the hands together puts you in touch with your 
center, your soul, Namaste puts you forward as a soul, not an 
outer personality. 
The gesture has a subtle effect on the aura and nerve system, 
bringing focused attention and a collection of one's forces, 
so to speak. It also protects against unnecessary psychic 
connections, which are fostered by shaking hands. This might be 
called a form of purity also--protecting one's energies. 

This form of acknowledgment is so lovely, so graceful. Just 
look at two people in Namaste and you will see so much human 
beauty and refinement. 

Hits: 940


Customer Service

Wayist Church of the East


Thank You

Thank you for visiting our little temple May the Peace be yours, may you gain the Light you seek and may Truth come to you at the time you require it.