Reveal Namaste’s Secret Spiritual Meaning in 70 Chars

The word “namaste” has become popular in yoga classes and New Age circles. But what does it really mean, beyond a simple greeting?

Namaste is a Sanskrit phrase made up of two words: “nama” meaning “bow” and “te” meaning “you.” Together, namaste literally translates to “bow to you.” It is both a spoken phrase and physical gesture used to express respect, honor, and devotion.

Etymology and Literal Translation of Namaste

The word namaste derives from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language used in Hindu scriptures and teachings. It is made up of two component words:

  • “Nama” which translates to “bowing” or “adoration.”
  • “Te” meaning “to you.”

So put together, namaste literally translates to “bowing to you” or “adoration to you” in English. It can also be translated as “I bow to the divine in you.”

This gets to the essence of why namaste is used – it recognizes the inherent divinity within each person through a symbolic bowing gesture.

The Gesture and Physical Aspect of Namaste

The physical gesture of namaste involves placing the hands together near the heart with head gently bowed, as if bowing before another person. The hands are pressed together with palms touching and fingers pointing up, thumbs close to the chest.

Some spiritual teachers interpret the placement of the hands as representing the union of the right and left sides of ourselves – our masculine and feminine aspects, our rational and intuitive selves. Bringing them together represents spiritual wholeness.

The bow of the head is seen as honoring the divine light within the other person. Closing the eyes while bowing the head helps internalize the divine exchange.

The namaste gesture is typically accompanied by the spoken phrase “namaste” or “namaskar.” This completes the physical manifestation of respect and honor for the sacredness of the other.

Deeper Spiritual Significance of Namaste Gesture

Beyond just a symbolic gesture of greeting, namaste carries deeper spiritual significance.

Namaste recognizes that there is a divine spark within every human being that connects us all. It sees the sacredness of the divine reflected in another person. That is why the gesture is accompanied by a small bow – it is bowing before the divine light within another.

This represents the belief in the underlying oneness and unity of all humans. While our outer appearances and personalities may be different, at our core we all emanate from the same universal source of divine light.

Namaste honors the unification between people and the divinity within them. Rather than seeing others as separate, it sees them as reflecting different aspects of the same sacred source.

Act of Reverence

Namaste is an act of reverence. It recognizes the value and beauty of another person at a soul level. It honors one’s sacred spiritual essence, beyond just their outer persona and ego self.

Seeing Past Outer Differences

This act of reverence also allows one to see past outer differences to the divine essence within. It transcends distinctions of race, gender, age, class, and personality to see the sacred spark that unites us.

The spiritual meaning goes beyond the physical gesture to truly recognizing the holy in all people, even those we may not like or understand.

Namaste as Recognition of Divinity in All

This leads to the deeper meaning of namaste – recognizing the divinity within all beings. Namaste sees Brahman, the supreme universal spirit, manifested in each living being.

This belief derives from Advaita Vedanta, a spiritual philosophy in Hinduism. It sees Brahman as the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the divine ground of all matter, energy, time, space, and beings.

So the divine light of Brahman exists within all creatures. By bowing to another with namaste, you honor the presence of this divine light within them.

The full spiritual meaning can be translated as: “I bow to the divine in you, which is also the divine in me.” It recognizes that we are all emanations from the same infinite universal source.

Removing Ego Boundaries

With this mindset, namaste helps relinquish one’s ego boundaries and sense of separation from others. It removes the barriers that divide us and obscures our underlying unity.

Developing Divine Perception

Regularly greeting others with namaste and truly seeing the divine in them helps to develop divine perception. With consistent practice, one learns to see past superficial differences and maintain consciousness of divine inner light.

Namaste as Expression of Oneness and Interconnection

As namaste recognizes divinity in all beings, it also expresses the unity and interconnectedness between all of life. It transcends the illusion of separation and superficial identity.

This meaning comes from the Vedic maxim, “Tat tvam asi,” which translates to “you are that.” It affirms that the Self – Atman – within you is identical and one with Brahman, the supreme universal spirit.

So in namaste, one honors the divine in another that is also identical with the divine within oneself. This reflects the oneness and interconnectedness between people and all living things.

breaking down perceived boundaries

Regularly practicing namaste trains one to see past constructed identities and barriers that appear to separate us. With deep spiritual intention, habitual boundaries slowly dissolve.

Developing Unity Consciousness

Approaching all beings with namaste ultimately cultivates a vision of unity consciousness – a deep knowing in the oneness inherent between you, others and all life. Separateness dissolves into interconnection.

Using Namaste for Meditation and Centering Oneself

The namaste gesture and saying can also be used for self-reflection, inward focus, and centering oneself in a spiritual state of being.

Bringing the hands together near the heart and bowing the head while saying “namaste” inwardly can function as a mindfulness practice. The accompanying breath focus helps calm the body and mind.

This centers awareness in the present moment, beyond the stream of thoughts. It realigns one’s consciousness with the truth of sacred oneness versus the illusion of separateness.

Here, namaste becomes a technique to cultivate higher states of truth, presence, gratitude, and unity within oneself. The inward gesture helps reconnect with one’s inner divine light.

Cultivating Presence and Gratitude

Bringing hands to heart while bowing, one can use the namaste gesture to cultivate present-moment awareness and gratitude for life.

Offering namaste to oneself realigns with the fundamental unity between one’s own deepest self and the universal Self – Brahman. The division between individual self and Supreme spirit dissolves.

In this way, namaste as a meditative practice reunites one with the sacred source of all being – affirming the divine truth that we are all one.